'Perfect start' and late rally see Blackrock hold on for impressive win over Erins Own

Alan Connolly finished with a personal tally of 1-9
'Perfect start' and late rally see Blackrock hold on for impressive win over Erins Own
Sean Kelly of Erins Own about to gather the sliothar ahead of Blackrock's Stephen Murphy and teammate Robbie O'Flynn during the Co Op Superstores Cork Premier Senior Hurling Championship match in Parc Ui Rinn. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Blackrock 2-16 Erin’s Own 2-12 

The “perfect start” and a battling finish. It is what happened in between, though, that Blackrock will spend this week addressing as they prepare to renew acquaintances with the team - Newtownshandrum - who dumped them out of last year’s championship.

2017 county finalists Blackrock got their Group B campaign off to a winning start on Saturday and if they can follow this four-point victory with a successful revenge mission against the men from North Cork next Sunday, they will be all but assured of their place in the knockout stages.

There are plenty of positives for the Rockies — who were without the injured Michael O’Halloran — to take from their opening day exertions. There’s also a great deal to work on.

Having surged into an 11-point lead by the 21st minute, they were then outscored by 2-8 to 0-4 in the ensuing half an hour of action. What it meant was that their once double-digit advantage now stood at just one point. Momentum had tilted to Erin’s Own. A most unlikely comeback was almost complete.

But credit to the Rockies. They dug in, refused to allow their opponents snatch an equaliser, and hit four of the game’s final five points to make sure of the win. Hard work they made of it, absolutely, but after three months of lockdown, you take the win in whatever shape it comes.

“We never left the lead go, but it came very close in a lot of cases,” Blackrock joint-manager Fergal Ryan reflected afterward.

“Erin’s Own were never going to roll over and let us do what we wanted. They came right back into it and made it the fight we had discussed it was going to be beforehand. It shows a quality when you can hang onto a lead. We hung on and finished it with a couple of points, so that was pleasing.

“Newtown are up next. They gave us a right dixie last year in Mourneabbey, beat us well on the day. Hopefully, our lads will get up for that game. I am sure Newtown won’t need any motivation to get up for Blackrock. That’s our next challenge. We’ll have to overcome it, and if we do, we place ourselves in a good position.” Ryan was understandably delighted with his side’s opening efforts.

Ciarán Cormack whipped home their first goal after five minutes and when Alan Connolly added a second 16 minutes later, the scoreboard read 2-8 to 0-3. Connolly and Tadhg Deasy both hit two points from play, with the former also accurate from the dead-ball situation.

Blackrock's Ritchie Laide holds onto the ball despite the challenge from Erins Own Cathal Linehan. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Blackrock's Ritchie Laide holds onto the ball despite the challenge from Erins Own Cathal Linehan. Picture: Howard Crowdy

Erin’s Own, by way of contrast, were all at sea. Bar Cork senior Robbie O’Flynn, they had not one player causing the slightest bit of bother for Blackrock. O’Flynn struck two points following their opponents’ second goal and after Maurice O’Carroll flicked to the net an Eoghan Murphy free, the interval gap was a not so insurmountable five.

It was an enjoyably open contest, with both sides enjoying a plethora of goal chances during the first half. The respective ‘keepers did well, with Blackrock number one Gavin Connolly repelling a Robbie O’Flynn shot and Eoghan Murphy penalty in successive plays.

Murphy’s free-taking accuracy and a much tighter defensive effort led by the impressive James O’Flynn kept Martin Bowen’s side in touch upon the resumption and the deficit was down to the minimum - 2-12 to 2-11 - when sub Alan Bowen held his nerve to find the net on 50 minutes. Crucially, though, they were unable to locate an equaliser between there and the finish.

“In a couple of challenge games we played, we had terrible starts. But it was a perfect start here” said Ryan.

“If you are looking for perfect starts, you couldn’t really get any better from the point of view of what they were doing on the pitch and what they were doing on the scoreboard. We’ve got to make sure that after the water break, we are coming back on the field with the same high intensity we left with. We got to work on that.”

Scorers for Blackrock: A Connolly (1-9, 0-6 frees, 0-1 ‘65); Ciarán Cormack (1-1); T Deasy (0-2); K O’Keeffe, S Murphy, D O’Farrell, R Cotter (0-1 each).

Scorers for Erin’s Own: E Murphy (0-5, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘65); R O’Flynn (0-4); M O’Carroll, A Bowen (1-0 each); J O’Carroll (0-2); R Twomey (0-1).

BLACKROCK: G Connolly; G Norberg, J Ryan, R Laide; Cathal Cormack, J Cashman, D Meaney; S Murphy, D O’Farrell; S O’Keeffe, Ciarán Cormack, M O’Keeffe; T Deasy, A Connolly, K O’Keeffe.

Subs: R Cotter for Ciarán Cormack (51 mins); J O’Sullivan for K O’Keeffe (53).

ERIN’S OWN: S Bowen; C O’Connor, C Dooley, S Murphy; C O’Mahony, J O’Flynn, J O’Carroll; S Kelly, D Twomey; R O’Flynn, S Guilfoyle, R Twomey; C Lenihan, M O’Carroll, E Murphy.

Subs: K Murphy for R Twomey, S Horgan for D Twomey (both 25 mins); S Cronin for Guilfoyle (38); A Bowen for Lenihan (45).

Referee: C O’Regan.

- Updated on August 2 at 4.32pm

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