THAT Ballymartle were within two points of Cloyne at half-time in this Cork SHC round two game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday owed much to the brilliance of keeper Declan McCarthy; that they were ahead at the end of the hour, owed just as much to the accuracy from placed balls of his namesake Darren McCarthy in midfield as it did to the corresponding inaccuracy of a succession of Cloyne free-takers.
First, to Declan McCarthy. Six point-blank saves in the first half, three of those in rapid succession in the 21st minute when twice he got off his knees to somehow reach the ball and keep it from crossing the line; he wasn’t done at that either, and twice more in second half he did superbly to keep cloyne at bay.
But oh, how Cloyne will bemoan the lack of a free-taker. Yes, they had probably the most dangerous individual forward on the pitch in the person of Cork senior Paudie O’Sullivan (though Brian Corry was superb for Ballymartle), whose first-half goal was a score of real quality, bearing in on a goal before unleashing a rocket. On several other occasions also Paudie broke through, each time with only goal on his mind, each time denied; admirable ambition, but certainly a point would have been the wiser option on a couple of occasions.
From placed balls, however, he wasn’t nearly as impressive, and after Dillon Cahill had first failed on free-taking duties, then big brother Diarmuid missed with a 65, Paudie took over and three very scoreable 65s were all missed.
In a tight first half, at the end of which Cloyne led 2-5 to 1-6, Ballymartle had matched Cloyne stride for stride, midfielder Seán O’Mahony’s fine goal in the 12th minute negated within a minute by Paudie.
In the second quarter, however, Cloyne began to dominate, created all those goal chances only to be denied by Declan McCarthy. A straight red card just before the break for corner-back Brian Fleming after a head-high tackle on Paudie O’Sullivan didn’t help Ballymartle’s cause, and as they headed for the dressing room they looked to be in dire trouble.
The second half saw a much-improved performance from Ballymartle, the Corry brothers, Seamus (wing-back) and Brian (full-forward) to the fore, and gradually the points came, parity gained in the 38th minute (1-8 to 2-5), edging in front in the 45th minute (superb Brian Corry point), then matching Cloyne point for point to the end, holding out for a deserved and wildly celebrated win.
Quizzed afterwards on those saves, Declan McCarthy was modesty personified. “You always remember the ones you left in, not the ones you stopped, and I was disappointed with their second goal (Cloyne corner-forward Keith Dennehy pouncing on the rebound of Declan’s save from Dillon Cahill).
“You just throw yourself in front of the ball and hope it hits you, but I’d say they were disappointed too with a few of the shots they took in terms of power, they were the kind of shots that if you left them in you’d be disappointed.
“Our main aim this year was to progress in the senior championship, and this is the culmination of a lot of hard work over many years by a lot of people — we’re just the lucky ones who get to enjoy it.
“You can see the boys going off there, the reception they’re getting — that’s why we do it, for them. How many years did we wait to become a senior club?
“People would have been laughing at us if we had come up (after winning the intermediate title last year), went on to win the All-Ireland) and gone straight back down.”
Scorers for Ballymartle: Darren McCarthy 0-6 (4f, 1 65); B Corry 0-5; S O’Mahony 1-0; R Dwyer, B Dwyer, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cloyne: P O’Sullivan 1-4 (0-3f); K Dennehy 1-0; D Cahill 0-2; C Smyth, C Cusack, C O’Lomasney, 0-1 each.
BALLYMARTLE: Declan McCarthy; M Tobin, D Edmonds, D Coleman; J Kelly, P Dwyer (c), S Corry; B Dwyer, S O’Mahony; Darren McCarthy, R Dwyer, B Corry; J Dwyer, D Dwyer, K Fitzpatrick.
Subs: G Webb for J Dwyer (30); P Coughlan for D Dwyer (54); J Coleman for Fitzpatrick (57).
CLOYNE: D Óg Cusack; B Fleming, K Cronin, E O’Sullivan (c); D Dineen, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, B McCarthy; J Nyhan, Donal O’Sullivan; C O’Lomasney, D Cahill, C Cusack; K Dennehy, P O’Sullivan, C Smyth.
Subs: C O’Sullivan for Nyhan (46); A Walsh for Dineen (53); M Walsh for O’Lomasney (53);
Referee: J Sexton (Ballyhea).
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