Bride Rovers served notice of their intentions with a strong start in Group C of the Co-op SuperStores Cork SAHC at Ballincollig on Saturday evening.
While they couldn’t maintain the scoring rate that saw them retire with a half-time lead of 1-12 to 0-4, they didn’t allow Ballymartle within seven points in the second half.
It means a potentially thrilling all-East Cork clash next Friday with Fr O’Neills, who beat Kilworth on Friday.
Manager Stephen Glasgow felt that the victory showcased the team’s attacking qualities in the first half and their resilience after the break.
“We would have taken a win by a point at the start of the day,” he said.
“The lads really put in an unbelievable shift in the first 30. The first water-break took the wind out of our sails a bit but we gathered it again and drove on.
“It’ll be a quick turnaround to next Friday but it’s the same for Fr O’Neills, even if they’ll have had an extra day!”
While Bride captain Daniel Dooley and Brian Corry of Ballymartle shared the opening two points, the rest of the first quarter belonged to the Rathcormac/Bartlemy outfit, who were playing blue jerseys to avoid a clash.
Dooley and Kieran Kearney impressed at midfield and 38-year-old Brian Murphy and Shane Walsh stood out in a miserly defence, but their cause was helped by a malfunctioning in the Ballymartle attack, with four different players off-target from dead balls.
In contrast, Bride were on song in front of goal, with just two of 16 efforts inside the Ballymartle half finding their target. They were 0-6 to 0-1 ahead by the time of the water break and might have had even more joy if a few deliveries inside had stuck.
While it took time to rediscover their rhythm and Conleith Ryan was forced off injured after winning a free, they ended the half well, with William Finnegan bringing his tally to eight points before a goal in the tenth minute of injury time.
Brian Roche was the man to get it thanks to a super finish after strong build-up play from Kearney and an 11-point interval advantage was more than healthy.
That stretched out to 12 on the restart after points from Dooley – a superb individual effort – and Finnegan sandwiched one from Darren McCarthy of Ballymartle. However, thereafter Ballymartle began to get a hold on proceedings and Bride were unable to work any scoring opportunity between the 33rd and 45th minutes.
It took until the 55th for them to add another score, another Finnegan free making it 1-15 to 0-10, with McCarthy and Seán O’Mahony having helped Ballymartle to eat into the lead prior to that.
Ballymartle needed goals and came close to getting them but both McCarthy and O’Mahony saw efforts brilliantly saved by Cian Hogan in the Bride goal. Finnegan (two) and a Paddy O’Flynn sideline cut helped the victors to pull clear before the end, leaving them looking forward to Friday’s derby with anticipation.
W Finnegan 0-11 (0-7f), D Dooley 0-3, B Roche 1-0, P O’Flynn 0-2 (0-1 sideline), S Walsh 0-1.
Darren MCarthy 0-8 (0-5f), S O’Mahony (0-1f, 0-1 65), B Corry 0-2 each.
C Hogan; F Collins, B Murphy, T O’Sullivan; S O’Connor, E Roche, S Walsh; D Dooley, K Kearney; W Finnegan, R Prendergast, P O’Flynn; C Ryan, C O’Connor, B Roche.
J Mannix for Ryan (23, injured), M Collins for O’Connor (53), J Pratt for Prendergast (59).
P Allen; C Coleman, M Tobin, L Corry; S Dorney, E O’Leary, S Corry; S O’Mahony, C Allen; J Dwyer, B Corry, S Cummins; Darren McCarthy, K McCarthy, J McCarthy.
P Geary for Dwyer (30, injured), G Webb for Dorney (half-time), Darragh McCarthy for K McCarthy (44).
B Sweeney (Erin’s Own).