Fourteen-point winners over last year’s county semi-finalists despite operating with just 14 men for more than half of proceedings. Try as they might, Glen Rovers will not be able to downplay either this performance or result.
It is hard to know where to begin with this stellar opening round effort from the Glen for there was so much to admire about their display: Patrick Horgan delivered an exhibition in point-scoring in the first-half (oh how his magic was missed), his performance bookended with a beautifully taken goal in second-half stoppages; young Simon Kennefick struck 2-1 from play on the evening the club wore for the first time a specially commissioned jersey containing an image of his late grandfather, Christy Ring, to mark 100 years since the latter’s birth; outscoring their opponents by 2-9 to 0-7 when down a man, and limiting their great rivals to just four second-half points.
That Glen Rovers had to make do with 14 men inside the whitewash followed referee Cathal McAllister’s decision to show Cork senior Robert Downey a straight red card for an off the ball challenge on Eoin Keane after 23 minutes.
Despite playing into the face of a stiffish breeze, Glen Rovers hummed a sweet tune early on and led by six, 1-11 to 0-8, at the time of Downey’s dismissal. There was, however, a definite shift in momentum following the sending-off, the Barrs accounting for three of the game’s final four points before half-time to leave four between them - 1-12 to 0-11 - at the break.
The problem for the Barrs was that they could not build on this brief spell of dominance upon the restart. Ridiculously poor defending allowed Kennefick in for his second goal 51 seconds into the second period. A Dean Brosnan point and two Horgan frees later and the gap was into double-digit territory.
Had you tuned in late to proceedings, you’d have been forgiven for thinking it was the Barrs who were down a man. The Glen were so smart in their distribution of possession that they completely negated the extra man in the opposition defence.
“The Barrs were carrying a couple of injuries, they have a lot of lads playing football, as well. One or two of them did look leggy so I wouldn't be getting carried away with tonight,” said Richie Kelleher, the Glen manager doing his level best to keep a lid on expectations.
“It is going to be a busy season. We got to take this, be proud of it, and move on very quickly because the next game is around the corner. There is a match next weekend and if we get turned over next weekend, this might work against us. We got to get focused straightaway, get up in the morning and start working on our bodies for the Carrigtwohill game.”
Kelleher was a satisfied man with regard to how his charges responded to Downey’s dismissal. “We brought Dean Brosnan to midfield, Simon Kennefick to the wing, and left two inside. They are good hurlers, are together so long that they have been in so many different situations together. They just got on with it, used their hurling brain.
“We are happy with where we are. We left them off during lockdown, didn't go near them, and if they came back two stone overweight, they came back two stone overweight, but, in fairness, you could see here that they were all working away by themselves and doing something.
“We trained in a green area in a housing estate in Ballyvolane for our first session back. I said to the lads, if you are not comfortable participating, don't turn up, absolutely no problem. But everybody was there and we knew that night we were going to drive on with this.”
It was somewhat coincidental that the draw for the divisions/colleges section was announced over the tannoy at half-time during Saturday's non-contest. Four-in-a-row chasing Imokilly have received a bye to the decider of that section, but given they no longer have access to Fr O’Neills' and Cloyne’s top hurlers, it’s a fair statement to make that 2019 beaten finalists Glen Rovers are, at this point, the early frontrunners for county championship honours.
P Horgan (1-9, 0-5 frees); S Kennefick (2-1); L Coughlan (0-3); L Horgan, D Noonan (0-2 each); C Dorris, D Brosnan, D Tynan (0-1 each).
E Finn (0-5, 0-3 frees); D Cahalane (0-3, 0-1 free); E Keane, B Hennessy (0-2 each); B Hayes, B Beckett, C Keane (0-1 each).
: C Hickey; A Lynch, D Dooling, C Healy; R Downey, B Moylan, D Noonan; A O’Donovan, D Cronin; D Brosnan, P Horgan, L Horgan; S Kennefick, C Dorris, L Coughlan.
: D Tynan for Dorris (56 mins).
S Hurley; C Walsh, J Burns, J Neville; G O’Connor, E Keane, D Cahalane; B Hennessy, E Finn; C Keane, B Hayes, B Beckett; C Cahalane, R O’Mahony, S Sherlock.
: J Cahalane for Beckett (39); E Twomey for C Keane (47).
: C McAllister.
- Updated on August 2 at 3.17pm.