Cork Premier SHC: Na Piarsaigh 2-23 St Finbarr’s 0-17
Out go the Barrs, their second double-digit defeat in the space of eight days means last year’s county semi-finalists cannot now progress to the knockout stages.
No more than their 14-point hammering at the hands of Glen Rovers the weekend before last, the Barrs were oh so flat on Sunday afternoon. The verve, fire, and intent which Na Piarsaigh brought to proceedings right from the off were desperately lacking from a somewhat disjointed Barrs effort.
They never once led and beyond the opening two minutes, they never again stood level with their opponents.
Behind by eight after 24 minutes, the Barrs did succeed in halving this deficit by the time the interval whistle sounded. But in a carbon copy of the Glen game, they failed to maintain this momentum into the second period and instead fell further and further adrift as the half wore on.
A scoring difference of minus 26 sums up the horrid opening fortnight the Barrs have endured in the Cork Premier SHC and Aidan Fitzpatrick’s charges shouldn’t need telling how critical it is that they take something from their final Group C outing against Carrigtwohill if they’re to avoid getting dragged into the relegation final.
For Na Piarsaigh, a knockout place is within reach.
The only way they can be overtaken by Carrigtwohill is if they lose to the Glen next time out, Carrigtwohill beat the Barrs, and there is a score-difference swing of 15 points in favour of Carrigtwohill. The latter’s scoring difference currently stands at -2, Na Piarsaigh’s is +12.
Manager Colin O’Sullivan was understandably delighted with his team’s 12-point victory. They finished the first half with seven different scores and kicked on again in the second period, with substitute Craig Hanifin - a member of last year’s Cork U20 side - hitting three points from play upon his introduction.
“Our club needed a win today. We absolutely needed a win. We needed something to kick us on. Today was a good launching pad for us,” said O’Sullivan.
“The team has taken a couple of knocks this year, we have lost a number of key players [through injury]. We are down probably five of the starting 15 from last year, including our captain and vice-captain, Cian Buckley, Eddie Gunning, and Pa O’Rourke. They were huge losses during the year.
“I have to give full credit to the players. Our club is lucky to have these guys, they are a fantastic bunch. There were some incredible performances out there. Kelvin Forde at midfield, Daire Connery was immense, Christopher Joyce too. Luke [Donovan], he made a slight error last week, but he battled back this week and made some great saves. I am delighted for them.”
Donovan denied Eoghan Finn, Ethan Twomey, and Brian Hayes late on. Christopher Joyce got himself in the way of a separate Hayes effort, while Adam Dennehy was brave in blocking Jack O’Kelly’s goal drive on 50 minutes. The Na Piarsaigh defence would not allow itself to be breached.
But the winning and losing of the game did not play out in the final quarter, rather it was Na Piarsaigh’s forceful opening to either half which took them clear of their southside opponents.
They led 1-6 to 0-3 at the end of the opening quarter, Shane Forde finding the net as early as the second minute. He was desperately unlucky not to register a second goal shortly after, corner-back Olan Murphy clearing the sliotar off the line.
Evan Sheehan’s dead-ball accuracy, added to fine scores from Christopher Joyce, Kevin Moynihan, and a Padraig Guest brace, propelled the northsiders 1-10 to 0-5 clear six minutes from half-time.
And while the Barrs struck six of the half’s final eight points to halve the deficit come the break, 1-12 to 0-11, a second Shane Forde goal at the beginning of the second period swung the pendulum back in Na Piarsaigh’s favour. And there it remained to the finish.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: E Sheehan (0-9, 0-7 frees); S Forde (2-2); D Connery (0-1 ‘65, 0-1 free), C Hanifin (0-3 each); P Guest (0-2); K Moynihan, C Joyce, C Hanifin, D Gunning (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: B Hayes (0-6); C Cahalane (0-5, 0-5 frees); C Barrett, J Cahalane (0-2 each); D Cahlane (0-1 free), E Twomey (0-1 each).
NA PIARSAIGH: L Donovan; Anthony Dennehy, Adam Dennehy, K Power; G Joyce, C Joyce, D Connery; K Forde, K Buckley; S Forde, Eoin Sheehan, K Moynihan; Evan Sheehan, D Gunning, P Guest.
Subs: C Hanifin for Eoin Sheehan (23 mins, inj); G Healy for Buckley (50); E Hanifin for Gunning (60, inj).
ST FINBARR’S: S Hurley; C Walsh, J Burns, O Murphy; G O’Connor, E Keane, C Barrett; B Hennessy, E Twomey; E Finn, D Cahalane, C Cahalane; S Sherlock, B Hayes, J Cahalane.
Subs: R O’Mahony for Walsh (36 mins); J O’Kelly for Sherlock (41).
Referee: D Copps.