Last eight territory will be nothing new to ‘Haven but when facing 2014 champions, Ballincollig, the 2012 and 2013 winners will meet a new force in Cork football in what will be billed the battle of the champions.
To get there, ‘Haven needed to draw on all their championship mettle to subdue the ‘Barr’s. Slow to settle, the five-time champions eventually took a foothold of a free-flowing game to lead by three at the break. And, while their resolve was tested by a never-say-die Barr’s fifteen, Haven’s superior teamwork and shooting power helped them over the finish line.
‘Haven manager, Jim Nolan, was on the first ‘Haven team to bring senior glory to the tiny west Cork parish in 1989, but he knows work must be done if he’s to manage the current generation to the club’s sixth title.
“I thought Ballincollig were top class against Valley Rovers – they played like true champions. We’ll be up against it,” Nolan admitted.
“I always expected a tough game tonight. The Barr’s looked sharp early on – we expected a big challenge and we got it.”
‘Haven had to line out without suspended Cork player, Brian Hurley, but in his absence their forward line hummed along nicely. They did kick a worrying 13 wides but their ability to harness space and scores was, at times, top class.
Central to their scoring threat were Stephen and Michael Hurley, Sean Cahalane and Shane Nolan, while further out the field the hard-working Seán Dineen and Chris Hayes and the teak-tough defending of Tom O’Leary and David Limrick all combined to help fashion a deserved win.
The ‘Barr’s, too, played some fine football. They were economical in their shooting up front where Adrian Murphy, Roy Leahy and Cork minor, Stephen Sherlock had their moments.
Blues boss Tony Leahy had to be pleased with his side’s opening ten minutes when they prised the ‘Haven defence open at will to lead 0-3 to 0-1. The smart movement of Roy Leahy and Adrian Murphy around the full-forward zone was eye-catching while, outfield, Dylan Quinn and Eoin Keane were central figures in the city side’s clever approach play.
Damien Cahalane had opened Haven’s account with a nonchalant effort in the 7th minute before the impressive Shane Nolan registered his first. The ‘Barr’s could have goaled in the 12th minute when a Cian Madden strike hit the upright though Alan O’Connor was on hand to land the rebound as consolation. O’Connor’s point was the ‘Barr’s last in the first half as ‘Haven upped the ante.
Their dominance yielded five successive points by the 27th minute a sequence opened by a fine solo-effort from Stephen Collins, followed by Nolan’s second to level affairs, Stephen Hurley, Paudie Hurley (‘45’) and Darragh Cahalane.
‘Haven might have boosted their interval lead (0-7 to 0-4) had Glenn O’Connor not intervened to magnificently block a Michael Hurley goal-bound shot.
The game restarted with the game’s only controversy when the influential Dylan Quinn was black-carded for a late tackle on Stephen Collins. A yellow might have been sufficient sanction, but ‘Haven stretched their lead to five when Sean Cahalane and Stephen Hurley hit the target.
Then, in a six minute spell between the 34th and 40th minutes, the Barr’s hit 1-3. Murphy and a beauty off his left from Stephen Sherlock initiated the fight-back, and, while Chris Hayes did bomb forward to land an inspirational score, the Barr’s replied with 1-1.
The goal was fashioned through a long ball from Jamie Burns before Roy Leahy gathered to finish clinically to the bottom corner. Murphy followed up swiftly with a free to level matters and they were on parity again after Sean Cahalane and Murphy (‘45’) exchanged points.
But the game’s decisive score came in the 47th minute when Michael Hurley took a direct hard line towards goal before unleashing a powerful effort beyond Shane Sherlock. Sean Cahalane and Stephen Hurley made it 1-13 to 1-8 and, though the Barr’s never surrendered, replying with two on the trot, the ‘Haven’s defence proved impenetrable in the closing five minutes with Roland Whelton added the coup de grace close to full-time.
S Cahalane (0-4, 2 frees); M Hurley (1-0); S Nolan and S Hurley (0-2) each; S Collins, Darragh Cahalane, Damien Cahalane, P Hurley (45), C Hayes and R Whelton (0-1 each).
R Leahy (1-1); A Murphy (0-4, 2 frees, 1 ‘45’); E Finn and Stephen Sherlock (0-2 each); A O’Connor (0-1).
P Hurley; J O’Regan, D Limrick, T O’Leary; R Whelton, Damien Cahalane, C Hayes; M Collins, S Dineen; S Collins, S Hurley, Darragh Cahalane; S Nolan, S Cahalane, M Hurley.
D Hegarty for Darragh Cahalane (45).
Shane Sherlock; P Kennedy, M Shields, S Ryan; D Quinn, E Dennehy, G O’Connor; C Lyons, J Burns; A O’Connor, E Keane, E Finn; A Murphy, R Leahy, C Madden.
Stephen Sherlock for Madden (inj, 19); P Wiley for Quinn (black card, 36); N Horgan for Burns (57).
C Lane (Banteer)