Ballinhassig and Valley Rovers served up a classic Co-Op Superstores Cork Premier IHC at Riverstick on Sunday.
With local bragging rights at stake, Ballinhassig got the better of their rivals, reversing championship results of recent years.
In ideal conditions, this game had everything.
Ballinhassig goalkeeper Patrick Collins saved a penalty from Chris O’Leary immediately after the water break in the second half and in turn the Ballinhassig custodian belted a penalty wide soon afterwards – all during a hectic period of play. From the Ballinhassig point of view, the most important aspect was they delivered when needed and although they trailed by a point at this time, they never panicked.
The winners got off to a flying start and were five points to two up with 12 minutes gone. They hit the upright with a free and they had a couple of wides as well. But Ger and Michael Collins, Donncha O’Donovan, Fintan O’Leary, and Richard Lombard nailed good scores. Importantly, they were creating plenty of opportunities.
Chris O’Leary and Colm Butler responded for Valley Rovers, who fielded without Kevin Canty.
Ballinhassig held a six points to four advantage when this encounter took its first dramatic turn in the 20th minute. Patrick Collins delivered long into the danger area and when the sliotar spilled, Fintan O’Leary was on hand to bag the only goal of the contest.
Valleys almost responded only for the Ballinhassig rear guard and keeper to deny Jack Walsh, his effort going over the end line for a 65 which Chris O’Leary converted. This was a crucial moment, and it enabled Ballinhassig to remain in front, 1-8 to 0-7, at the halfway stage. They signed off the first half with a lovely point from Michael Collins who collected straight from his brother Patrick’s puck out.
A few stern words must have been said at half-time because Valley Rovers returned to the action rifling over six unanswered points. With substitute Cormac Desmond making his presence felt at the edge of the square, five of the six flags were from play, and all within 10 minutes of the restart. Also, Patrick Collins had to make a superb point-blank save from Desmond. Valley Rovers now in the ascendancy by two points.
Ballinhassig were not too keen to relinquish their advantage, Simon O’Neill and Michael Collins achieving parity. And it was parity again, 0-14 to 1-11 midway through the half.
The fourth quarter continued to be action-packed. When Walsh set up Desmond, he headed for goal and was fouled. Chris O’Leary went low with the penalty but Patrick Collins read it well. Butler was alert to the rebound and they took their point.
Conor Desmond combined with O’Donovan and the sides were tied once more.
Butler was picking some nice points for Valleys and moments after he inched them ahead, Fintan O’Leary was dragged down at the other end. Patrick Collins came out of goal only for his penalty shot to go left of the post.
Ballinhassig didn’t drop the heads. They stayed the course. Tyers, who didn’t start because of injury, impacted upon his arrival supplying a brace. Important points also arrived from Colin Reynolds and Lombard to tilt the balance in their favour.
Next Saturday, Valley Rovers are up against the other group losers Ballincollig and they will need a win to keep their hopes alive. Watergrasshill and Ballinhassig meet, also on Saturday.
F O’Leary (1-1), R Lombard and M Collins (0-3 each), G Collins (frees), C Reynolds, and C Tyers (0-2 each), D O’Donovan (65), S O’Neill and C Desmond (0-1 each).
C Butler (0-7, 0-4 frees), C O’Leary (0-4, 0-3 frees, 0-1 65), J Cottrell and A Kenneally (0-2 each), E O’Reilly and C Desmond (0-1 each).
P Collins; J Reardon, Chris Reynolds, M Desmond (Capt); C Desmond, D O’Donovan, B Lombard; S McCarthy, S O’Neill; Colin Reynolds, M Collins, R Lombard; G Collins, F O’Leary, C Grainger.
M Sheehan for B Lombard (38), C Tyers for C Grainger (45), E Lombard for Chris Reynolds (55), E Cullinane for F O’Leary (60).
D Looney; T O’Brien, D Lynch (Capt), E Delaney; M O’Leary, C O’Leary, W Hurley; N O’Donovan, J Lynch; J Cottrell, J Walsh, R O’Sullivan; E O’Reilly, A Kenneally, C Butler.
C Desmond for R O’Sullivan (half time), C Kilduff for A Kenneally (45), S O’Regan for J Lynch (50), G Farrell for E O’Reilly (60).
Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).