A crucial second-half goal by midfielder Brian Hurley cemented Blarney’s place in the quarter-final of the Premier IHC at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night where the Mid Cork club were deserving winners over Mallow in a disappointing fourth round tie.
The goal came six minutes from the end of normal time and at a time when Mallow were playing with 14 players after county U21 player Cormac Murphy was sent off for a second yellow card offence, and Blarney a point in arrears playing into the strong wind and dazzling sun.
It was a result that pleased coach Kevin Hyland, who heaped praise on his charges for the manner in which they held their composure in the second half when playing into the wind.
“After falling a goal behind so early in the game and playing with the elements in the first half, the lads displayed commendable heart to stay in contention,” said Kevin.
“Given the strength of the wind we needed to build up at least a six-point half-time lead, and when we went in a point down, it wasn’t looking good for us.
“However they are a tremendous group of players with a nice sprinkling of youth and experience and they never panicked, took the game to Mallow in the second half, dug deep, played good solid hurling, not great hurling, and we fully deserved the victory.
“There is a great passion for the game in the village of Blarney, and hopefully we gave our supporters something to cheer about tonight,” added Hyland.
Regrettably, Mallow refused to comment at the final whistle.
The North Cork side couldn’t have asked for a better start. From the throw-in, full-forward Denis Hurley had the sliotar in the net from a pass by Cormac Murphy after just 35 seconds.
Aided by the strong wind and sun, Blarney recovered quickly from that early setback and it took a superb double save by Mallow keeper Aidan Long to keep his net intact.
The strength of the wind reduced Mallow to sporadic attacks but they made them tell to deservedly lead 1-3 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter. However, using the elements to good effect, Blarney laid siege to the Mallow defence but couldn’t make any impression due to the brilliance of Jason Culloty and Gerry Hayes, and had to depend on Peter O’Driscoll for scores.
Showing uncanny accuracy from placed balls, O’Driscoll pointed four in a row to help his side to, 1-4 to 0-6 at the break. The Blarney tactic of running at the Mallow defence at every opportunity on the restart resulted in O’Driscoll tying the game for the first time in the 33rd minute. When Daniel Cronin gave the Mid Cork side the lead for the first time a minute later, the tempo of the game quickened.
The exchanges became extremely keen and Mallow’s excellent midfielder Murphy was given the line for a second yellow offence, and it had a devastating effect on his side.
Inevitably the numerical advantage began to tell and in a superb three-man move, Brian Hurley was on the end of it to rattle the Mallow net to set up a meeting with Youghal in the quarter-final.
Scorers for Blarney: P O'Driscoll 0-6 (5fs, 1 65), B Hurley 1-0, E McCarthy, J O'Sullivan (f), D Cronin, E O'Connor, J Hurley 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mallow: D Hayes 1-0, C Murphy, A Sheehan (2f) 0-2 each, C Moloney, D Kerrisk 0-1 each.
BLARNEY: P Hallissey; J Barrett, D McSweeney, P O’Leary; J Jordan, J Hughes, M O’Leary; B Hurley, B O’Connell; E McCarthy, J O’Sullivan, O O’Connor; P O’Driscoll, R McNamara, S Mulcahy.
Subs: D Cronin for McNamara (10), P O’Sullivan for J O’Sullivan (15), J Hurley for Mulcahy (55), D Walsh for B Hurley (60).
MALLOW: A Long; J Culloty, C Kerrisk, F O’Neill; T, O’Riordan, G Hayes, D Kerrisk; C Murphy, K McCarthy; A Sheehan, C Moloney, M Maher; C Leahy, D Hayes, P Herlihy.
Subs: G O’Sullivan for K McCarthy (35) K O’Connor for C Leahy (50).
Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved