Ballymartle 2-19 Glen Rovers 0-23: Ballymartle’s Darren McCarthy sent a “pick me” message to Cork senior hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy on Saturday night as he inspired the Riverstick club during a stunning second-half revival against the famed Glen Rovers in round one of the Cork SHC at Páirc Uí Rinn.
A bit player for Barry-Murphy’s Rebels during Cork’s 2015 Allianz League campaign, the goalkeeper-turned-outfield magician was very much centre-stage in this hugely entertaining tie, leading by example from midfield as John Crowley’s charges overturned a seven-point half-time deficit to claim a memorable two-point victory over a gallant Glen side.
Trailing by two points with just a minute of normal time remaining, McCarthy took off on a storming solo-run down the right wing before striking exquisitely off the hurley and directing an unstoppable shot to the top left-hand corner of the goal.
“Darren is doing it year in, year out, in club hurling,” said Crowley afterwards.
“I’m not criticising Cork management at all but I’m amazed that Darren hasn’t got a run with Cork. He’s elusive and the kind of player that if he gets a ball he will score or do something productive with it.”
While McCarthy’s strike proved the game’s coup de grace, one of the match’s key turning points was substitute Johnny Wallace’s well-timed ground stroke in the 46th minute, a moment that arguably acted as the tangible catalyst to Ballymartle’s revival.
Goalkeeper Declan McCarthy, too, can take a bow in contributing to Ballymartle’s latest slaying of a city hurling giant, pulling off two crucial saves in the 6th and 36th minutes, the latter coming at a point when a goal might have pushed the Glen into an unassailable lead and a huge psychological advantage.
While Ballymartle understandably steal the headlines this morning, spare a thought for Richie Kelleher’s Glen charges, who gave enough of an indication that they can still be contenders — as they were in 2014 — in this year’s championship.
The Glen’s cause wasn’t helped when their inspirational captain, Graham Callanan, had to retire after 15 minutes but thanks to some sterling defending from Stephen McDonnell, Ben Murphy and the exciting 18-year-old talent Adam O’Donovan, the Glen were full value for their 0-16 to 0-9 half-time lead.
Dave Noonan’s first-half contribution from midfield was also notable, but it was up front where the Glen sparkled, with all six forwards getting on the score-sheet.
Patrick Horgan once again provided the gold-dust, shooting poetically off both sides from numerous angles and distances while, alongside him, Conor Dorris imitated in many ways the master, slinging one unforgettable point over his left shoulder from under the stand in the 11th minute.
In an eight-minute spell before the break, Rovers outscored the Carrigdhoun men 0-6 to 0-1 to retire at the break in a comfortable position.
“I said at half time that we’d worked diligently over the last four weeks to go at teams, and I felt we had the fitness,” said Crowley. “We just wanted to go to the bitter end and thankfully we did.”
McCarthy was intent on taking this game by the collar and almost snatched a goal 90 seconds after the restart, but saw his blistering effort from 13m shaved the right upright. However, by the 45th minute, the Glen still looked in control when Dave Busteed made it 0-19 to 0-13.
The hugely impressive Jack Dwyer kept Ballymartle in touch before Brian Corry and Barry Dwyer combined to set up Wallace who first-timed to the net. It was game on now.
The Glen seemed to have done enough when Shane Kennifick and Connor Dorris stretched the lead to three (0-22 to 1-16) by the 57th minute and, with scores coming thick and fast, this contest was still in the melting pot with a minute remaining.
Then up stepped McCarthy for that goal before coolly adding a 65 to send Ballymartle’s huge following into raptures.
“We knew how good Ballymartle were so we were under no illusions,” said Glen selector Des Cullinane afterwards.
“They’ve been a tremendously consistent championship side over the last six, seven years. We knew we needed to play well which we did for 45 minutes. We have no complaints with the result. We had every chance to win it and we didn’t. We’re disappointed. It is what it is. We’ll have to dust ourselves down and go again.”
Scorers for Ballymartle:
D McCarthy (1-8, 0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘65’); Jack Dwyer (0-4); B Dwyer (0-3 frees); J Wallace (1-0); K McCarthy (0-2); B Corry and S O’Mahony (0-1 each).
Scorers for Glen Rovers:
P Horgan (0-11, 4 frees, 1 ‘65’); C Dorris (0-4); D Busteed and S Kennifick (0-2 each); D Noonan, D Brosnan, D Cunningham and G Kennifick (0-1 each).
D McCarthy; D Dwyer, C Coleman, D Edmunds; L Corry, P Dwyer, R Cahalane; D McCarthy, S O’Mahony; K McCArthy, B Dwyer, Jack Dwyer; Jamie Dwyer, B Corry, R Dwyer.
S Corry for S O’Mahony (ht); J Wallace for R Dwyer (40); D Kelly for K McCarthy (45).
C Hickey; D Dooling, S McDonnell, B Murphy; A O’Donovan, B Moylan, G Callanan (capt); D Cronin, D Noonan; D Brosnan, D Cunningham, D Busteed; C Dorris, P Horgan, G Kenne#ifick.
S Kennifick for Callanan (inj, 15); L Coughlan for G Kennifick (45).
C McAllister (Aghada)
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