Despite not scoring for the final 16 minutes of play, Avondhu progressed to the Cork SFC quarter-finals at Ilen Rovers’ expense in Macroom on Saturday night.
When Teddy O’Shea scored their goal in the 48th minute, the North Cork division led by 1-12 to 0-9, and while they were outscored in the remainder of normal time and four additional minutes, Ilen could not transform enough of their possession into scores.
Avondhu did not take all of their chances themselves — they had nine wides, six in a wasteful first-half — but crucially, they managed to score a goal while Ilen’s Cian O’Driscoll and player-manager Kieran Daly both pointed when presented with great green-flag chances.
That was the key difference, in the view of Avondhu manager Daithí Pierce.
“Ilen are a good, strong physical side,” he said, “but I suppose the goal that we got changed the whole lot. That was all that was in it.
“They missed a few and at the end they were only popping ball in, hoping, whereas if they had run it the way they had been it could have worked.”
Ilen began in superb fashion as their swift running game cut through Avondhu – who had to field a brand-new full-back line due to injuries, including to Cork star Ray Carey – and led by 0-3 to 0-0 after nine minutes, a lead which could have been more had O’Driscoll gone for goal.
His brothers Conor and Peadar were doing well at midfield and Avondhu were making life difficult for themselves in attack with poor shooting before they found form and were level by the 12th minute through Mikey Sheehan, Colm O’Neill and Cian O’Riordan.
With Daly working hard, Ilen still retained the impetus, however, and by the 25th minute they were 0-7 to 0-5 in front following Alan Holland’s free, but they had goalkeeper Gary Coakley to thank for a super save from O’Neill.
Cian O’Riordan dropping deeper had allowed Avondhu to win more possession around the middle, however, and they scored the half’s final three points through Sheehan, O’Neill and O’Riordan to take the lead for the first time just as the interval neared.
Though Kevin O’Sullivan levelled early in the second-half, Ilen’s play was not as precise as it had been in the opening period and their wides tally now began to build. In contrast, Avondhu had found some real form and four unanswered points in 10 minutes had them 0-12 to 0-8 clear. Daly pointed after great work by Dan Mac Eoin, but it could have been a goal, and the costliness of that miss was amplified when O’Shea netted at the other end soon after.
It was a slightly fortuitous goal as Hurl Dockery’s point attempt was falling short and Coakley came off his line to claim. O’Shea shouldered him and tapped home when the ball came loose, but Ilen’s appeals were waved away by referee Nathan Wall as Coakley had been outside the small rectangle.
Sub Brian O’Sullivan and Holland responded to give Ilen some hope, but they could not make the most of possession as their composure dwindled. One last quest for an equalising goal saw Peadar O’Driscoll launch the ball towards the goalmouth but Paul O’Flynn — who did well at full-back on former Cork team-mate Kevin O’Sullivan — flicked the ball away and Avondhu survived. They now play another West Cork side, O’Donovan Rossa, in the quarter-finals.
Scorers for Avondhu: C O’Neill 0-5 (2f, 1 45), M Sheehan, C O’Riordan 0-3 each, T O’Shea 1-0, T Monaghan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ilen Rovers: K O’Sullivan 0-3 (1f), K Daly, A Holland, D Mac Eoin (1f) 0-2 each, Cian O’Driscoll, T O’Regan, B O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
AVONDHU: C Conway (Clyda Rovers); L Dockery (Mallow), P O’Flynn (Ballyclough), C Kenny (Clyda Rovers); E Stanton (Mallow), C O’Connell (Killavullen), E O’Connor (Kildorrery); P Kissane (Clyda Rovers), H Dockery (Mallow); C O’Riordan (Mallow), D O’Mahony (Kilshannig), M Sheehan (Glanworth); V O’Donoghue (Araglin), C O’Neill (Ballyclough), T O’Shea (Ballyclough).
Subs: T Monaghan (Kildorrery) for O’Mahony (half-time), S Fitzgerald (Kildorrery) for H Dockery (58).
ILEN ROVERS: G Coakley; M Hellen, D Coughlan, P Minihane; C Cotter, D O’Donovan, Cian O’Driscoll; Conor O’Driscoll, P O’Driscoll; A Coughlan, T O’Regan, K Daly; D Mac Eoin, A Holland, K O’Sullivan.
Subs: B Leonard for Cotter (ht), B O’Sullivan for A Coughlan (42), B Looney for K Daly (51).
Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).
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