BLARNEY are leading contenders for this season's Co-Op Superstores Cork PIHC and showed why with a convincing victory over Mid Cork rivals Inniscarra on Saturday afternoon at Coachford.
Both were in the semi-finals last season but Blarney were better balanced and more confident from the off and with a 0-10 to 0-8 lead at half-time despite hurling into a stiff breeze, made that superiority count.
Scarra deployed their Cork senior Seán O'Donoghue in attack where he was a threat, but that included a stint at the edge of the square when they were against the wind. In stark contrast, Blarney utilised their star man Mark Coleman, despite wearing number 11, in his familiar left wing-back berth.
Coleman was his usual classy self, converting monster frees and a pair of sweet points from play, but wasn't expected to win the game on his own. It helped of course that former Cork minor captain Shane Barrett was unmarkable up top.
Rebel U20 selector Donal O'Mahony who was watching from the bank would certainly have been impressed by Barrett's crisp striking and movement, which yielded 1-7 from play, including three in a row in the second half when Inniscarra had drawn level.
Another young gun Pádraig Power set up the goal with drive up the centre, while Ben Ahern hurled a world of ball from midfield and Declan Hanlon used his heft to lob over a couple of fine scores too. Blarney had steely displays from veterans Joe Jordan and Paul O'Leary, but lost O'Leary, their player-manager, to a late ankle injury which will rule him out of next weekend's critical clash with Castlelyons.
Inniscarra will have to beat Blackrock's second team to keep their interest alive. Fergal O'Leary and Shane O'Mahony got some excellent points, 0-5 between them, and Stephen Olden and Con O'Leary hurled hard until the bitter end.
They'll hope to get a bit more out of All-Ireland winning Cork U17 Owen McCarthy, who did show some sublime skill for his point, and settle on a position for Seán O'Donoghue.
This was all about Blarney though. From Paul Hallissey in goal and centre-back Peter Philpott to sub Barra O'Connell, they had a plethora of notable performers.
S Barrett (1-7), M Coleman (0-5, 3 f), P Power (0-3, 1f), B Ahern, D Hanlon (0-2 each), C Murphy, K Costello, P Crowley, J Jordan (0-1 each).
F O'Leary, S O'Donoghue (1f) (0-3 each), S O'Mahony (0-2), D O'Keeffe (0-2f), C Lombard, O McCarthy (0-1 each).
P Hallissey; S Crowley (jc), P O'Leary, D Walsh; J Jordan, P Philpott (jc), M Coleman; B Ahern, P Crowley; D Hanlon, A McEvoy, C Murphy; K Costello, P Power, S Barrett.
O Hegarty for Walsh (40), B O'Connell for Murphy (42 inj), D Quill for O'Leary (55 inj).
: J O'Keeffe; J O'Callaghan, C O'Leary, J Harrington; S Sheehan, S Olden, C Lombard; L Ryan, L Buckley; O McCarthy, S O'Donoghue, S O’Mahony; F O’Leary, D O'Keeffe, E O’Connor.
D Hughes for L Buckley (47), J Buckley for O'Callaghan (52).
Pat Lyons (Bishopstown).