Glen Rovers 0-18 Midleton 1-12: The last time Glen Rovers reached consecutive Cork SHC finals was at the end of the 1980s, when a loss in ’88 to St Finbarr’s was followed in ’89 with victory over Sarsfields.
That 1989 win was the last time the Seán Óg Murphy Cup made the trip to Blackpool, but those believing in omens will be hoping history will repeat itself. Last year, the Glen lost to Sars in a disappointing fashion but they have come roaring back, even allowing for the speed-bump of a first-round loss to Ballymartle.
In Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday, the northsiders were good value for a three-point win over a Midleton side that struggled to really get going, despite the tonic of a Cormac Walsh goal in the first minute.
Such a setback was hardly noticed by the Glen as, by half-time, they were 0-8 to 1-3 ahead — it would have been more but for a flurry of wides coming up to the break — and had moved six clear, 0-14 to 1-5, after hitting a purple patch during the second half.
Midleton were never going to fade away completely, however, and managed to claw their way back to within two points with four minutes left.
A Patrick Horgan 65 gave the Glen a first score in 10 minutes, but as the game crept into injury time Paul Haughney had a chance of a goal. His well-hit shot flashed over and the Glen breathed a sigh of relief, with Conor Dorris rubber-stamping the win with his third point at the death.
Glen manager Richie Kelleher acknowledged that a stiff rearguard action had been required but was pleased with the way his team managed to see out the game.
“I thought Midleton maybe went for goals too early,” he said, “that’s their business, but if they started tapping over points we might have been in trouble. It was backs to the wall and in fairness to our lads they really stood up.
“They’ve done that in the two years since we took over and you can’t fault them. They give it everything and that’s all you can ask for.” Walsh’s goal, when he burst through the Glen cover before crashing his shot home, looked to have set Midleton on their way but the Glen settled better, with Dave Noonan prominent at midfield, and Patrick Horgan’s perfectly calibrated free-taking a valuable asset.
They were level at 1-3 to 0-6 when Horgan converted the free after the troublesome Brian Phelan had drawn a foul and then Noonan profited from a good sideline cut by midfield partner Donal Cronin to send over a lovely effort from the left.
Horgan made it 0-8 to 1-3 on 21 after Phelan had again been fouled, but there were no scores for the remainder of the half as the Glen’s wides tally built up alarmingly. Even so, they may have gone in trailing but for a superb Cathal Hickey save to deny Luke O’Farrell in the 29th minute.
Too often, however, Midleton lacked a cutting edge up front, where Conor Lehane — named as a sub but not near fitness — was missed.
The Glen might have begun the second half with a goal as Horgan knifed through and attempted to play in Phelan but Finbarr O’Mahony defended well. Though Horgan’s seventh point increased the lead, Midleton responded through Paul Haughney and Brian Hartnett — one of two subs introduced in the first half — and suddenly there was just a point in it.
The Glen weren’t going to collapse, though. Brosnan pointed after Noonan picked him out, Horgan sent over a free — again won by Phelan — and a 65 and centre-back Brian Moylan scored an inspirational effort from the right before Conor Dorris got in on the act.
Midleton needed something special and might have got it when Hartnett had a sight of goal only for David Dooling to make a flying block, but moments later Horgan could have put the Glen out of sight only for Tommy Wallace to save from him.
The Magpies made the most of the let-off as Walsh (three) and Luke O’Farrell scored to give them their best period of the game, with the Glen wobbling slightly as Noonan was sent off for a second yellow card. They steadied again, however, and now await the winners of the Sarsfields and Erin’s Own replay.
Scorers for Glen Rovers:
P Horgan 0-10 (four frees, four 65s), C Dorris 0-3, D Noonan 0-2, B Moylan, D Brosnan, D Busteed 0-1 each.
Scorers for Midleton:
C Walsh 1-6 (four frees), P Haughney 0-3, S O’Farrell, B Hartnett, L O’Farrell 0-1 each.
C Hickey; B Murphy, S McDonnell, G Moylan; D Dooling, B Moylan, G Callanan; D Cronin, D Noonan; D Brosnan, P Horgan, D Cunningham; C Dorris, B Phelan, D Busteed.
T Wallace; C Hurley, F O’Mahony, P O’Mahony; P Dowling, A Ryan, K Burke; P Haughney, S Smith; L Coughlan, P O’Farrell, J Nagle; C Walsh, L O’Farrell, S O’Farrell.
D Kirwan (Éire Óg).
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