Anthony Spillane gave a captain’s performance as Castlelyons booked their spot in the Co-op Superstores Cork Premier IHC final with an impressive victory over Courcey Rovers on Saturday in Páirc Úi Rinn.
The full-forward struck for 1-6 from play, was fouled for two frees and led the attack with guile, accuracy, and menace throughout.
His side trailed by six points after seven minutes, but when he struck for his goal to level the game for the first time at 1-9 apiece 20 minutes later, the Imokilly side took control of the game. Keith O’Leary traded scores with Courcey’s Richard Sweetnam before two Barry Murphy gems saw the East Cork outfit lead by 1-12 to 1-10 at the break.
Two quick points from Sweetnam and Ronan Nyhan brought Courcey’s level again on the resumption but then Castlelyons kicked for home.
Colm Barry was dominating his square, Niall O’Leary and Leo Sexton were in control in the half-back line and Colm Spillane thundered into the game in support of his brother as they hit seven consecutive points.
Six of them came from the Spillane brothers, Michael with one, Anthony with two and Colm with three while O’Leary had the other to leave them in pole position entering the final quarter.
Courceys, being the competitors that they are, managed to reduce the margin to four before the water break with two points from Sweetnam and another from Michael O’Donovan but in truth the break broke their momentum.
Two points from Alan Fenton and Anthony Spillane’s sixth point pushed the Castlelyons lead back out to seven soon after, meaning Courcey’s desperately needed a goal that they never looked like getting.
Points from Olan Crowley and William Jeffries sandwiched Fenton’s third for the Imokilly men but it was too little, too late for the Carrigdhoun side who had started the game in blistering fashion.
Their young Cork star, Seán Twomey, started his first game of the summer due to a groin injury and he made his presence felt immediately, capitalising on a loose pas from Jack Barry before crashing the ball home inside sixty seconds.
Critically, they lost him to injury seven minutes later but with Sweetnam, Aidan O’Donovan and Tadgh O’Sullivan all looking sharp up front they soon established a 1-5 to 1-2 lead.
Gradually, Castlelyons made inroads to their lead with Anthony and Michael Spillane prominent though two Jerry O’Neill points left the south east men leading by 1-9 to 0-8 after 25 minutes.
The loss of Twomey, however, was exacerbated by Anthony Spillane’s class as Castlelyons look forward to their first final appearance since 2013, when they lost to Youghal, in a fortnight’s time.
A Spillane (1-6), M Spillane (0-5, 2 frees, 1 ’65), C Spillane and A Fenton (2 frees) (0-3 each), K O’Leary and B Murphy (0-2 each), T Carroll and J Kearney (0-1 each).
: R Sweetnam (0-6, 4 frees), S Twomey (1-0), A O’Donovan, J O’Neill and T O’Sullivan (0-2 each), S Nyhan (free), R Nyhan, O Crowley, M O’Donovan and L Jeffries (0-1 each).
J Barry; J O’Leary, C Barry, T Carroll; L Sexton, N O’Leary, C O’Neill; E Maye, K O’Leary; B Murphy, C Spillane, A Fenton; J Kearney, A Spillane (Capt), M Spillane.
: L Doocey for M Spillane (42 min), B Carroll for Murphy (57).
S Nyhan; K Collins, B Mulcahy (capt), C Daly; M Collins, F Lordan, B Collins; J O’Neill, DJ Twomey; B Ryan, R Nyhan, T O’Sullivan; R Sweetnam, S Twomey, A O’Donovan.
O Crowley for Twomey (inj, 8), D Duggan for Daly (inj, 26), J McCarthy for Ryan (h/t), M O’Donovan for Twomey (h/t), L Jeffries for Crowley (60).
: Teddy O’Donovan (Douglas).