Former county star Micéal Ó Croinín showed class is permanent as Naomh Abán had a perfect start to the Cork Premier IFC at Kilmurry on Saturday night.
Lining out at full-forward, Ó Croinín kicked eight points to secure his side’s passage to round three. For Ballinora it’s a second round tie against the losers of the Carrigaline/Mallow tie.
It was a result that didn’t look likely early on as Ballinora began at a blistering pace and it required a goal line save from Anthony Lynch to deny them a goal in the seventh minute. Two evenly matched sides were level twice in the opening half and while scores were scarce, the closeness of the exchanges more than compensated.
The aerial dominance of the Ballinora pair, Michael Hodge and Alan O’Neill, meant a plentiful supply of ball into their attack, but a combination of excellent defending by the evergreen Lynch and Seamus Ó Mathúna, and poor finishing, cost them several scores.
At the other end, Naomh Abán had to rely on the accuracy of Ó Croinín from placed balls for scores. The former county senior kicked three points in a row to edge his side 0-3 to 0-1 ahead after 20 minutes.
But Ballinora pair Pat Fitton and Conor Brosnan kept their side in touch before the former edged them ahead for the first time with a great point.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the half with the sides tied for the second time (0-4 apiece) by the 28th minute, before Hodge landed the lead point after a great run. Ballinora maintained the pressured to the break, with Conor Murphy forcing a magnificent save from Naomh Abán ‘keeper Jonathan Ó hUidhir.
Inexplicably the Waterfall side failed to maintain their first half form despite a Conor Brosnan point after 20 seconds.
Naomh Abán were a transformed side on the restart and within the minutes had landed five points in a row — with Ó Croinín hitting three.
Despite losing the services of midfielder Diarmuid Ó Laoire who, along with Tadgh Ó Scannail, succeeded in breaking the Ballinora
dominance in that area, the Gaeltacht side, with Ó Croinín superb, put the issue beyond doubt with a splendid goal from Donncha Ó Ceocháin.
Ballinora mounted a late rally but Naomh Abán held firm to record a comfortable victory.
Scorers for Naomi Abán: M. Ó Croinín 0-8 (0-3 frees); D. Ó Ceocháin 1-1; D. Ó Suilleabháin, D. Ó Croinín, T. Ó Scannail 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballinora: B. Ahern (0-2 frees), C. Brosnan (0-1 free) 0-3 each; P. fitton, M. Hodge, A. O’Neill 0-1 each.
NAOMH ABÁN: S. Ó hUidhir; E. Ó Criodáin, S. Ó Mathúna, C. Ó Deasúna; C. de hIde, A. Ó Loingsigh, C. Ó Tuama; T. Ó Scannail, M. Ó Laoire; D. Ó Liatháin, M. Ó Croinín, D. Ó Croinín; A. Ó Loingsigh, S. MacCarthaigh, D. Ó Suilleabháin.
Subs: D. Ó Ceocháin for D. Ó Liatháin (15); C. Ó Murchú for S. MacCarthaigh (45); S. MacCarthaigh for M. Ó Laoire (48); S. Ó Laoire for C. Ó Murchú (50).
BALLINORA: E. Walsh; D. O’Neill, G. O’Halloran, D. O’Neill; M. Kelleher, C. O’Connor, T. McGrath; M. Hodge, A. O’Neill; I. Wycherley, C. Brosnan, B. Ahern; C. Sheehan, C. Murphy, P. Fitton.
Subs: C. Lucey for Wycherley (50).
Referee: D. Shorten (St. Marys).
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