Peter O’Brien drives Avondhu to victory

Avondhu 0-20 Ballymartle 1-15: Avondhu showed true grit to get the better of Ballymartle in the opening round of the Cork SHC at Rathcormac on Saturday.

It was close throughout, the accuracy of Peter O’Brien going a long way towards deciding the outcome. The Kildorrery clubman fired 12 points, including a host of magnificent long-range efforts. This terrific team performance is a step forward for the divisional side as they failed to emerge from the Divisions/Colleges section in the last two championships.

Manager Jodie Hayes said preparations have gone well this year: “We acknowledge the club is first and we have said that all along. Avondhu is second, and to be fair to the boys they have always turned up when we needed them. We played five or six challenge games and we have had about five training sessions so the commitment is there.”

Three points in arrears at the break, Ballymartle showed great resolve to battle back in the second-half. They came within a point in the third quarter, and levelled soon after, but Avondhu were defiant to the end.

The Riverstick side, who defeated the eventual county champions Glen Rovers in round one in 2015, will have to play the losers of Glen Rovers and Carbery in round 2B.

Ballymartle had the better of the early exchanges, enjoying a 0-4 to 0-2 lead, with Darren McCarthy raising a couple of flags from play. But five points in succession got the north Cork team up-and-running. O’Brien struck four from placed balls while Pa Herlihy added to earlier scores from Andrew Cagney and Kieran Morrisson.

Ballymartle, meanwhile, were racking up the wides, only scoring once, a much-needed point from wing-forward Keith Fitzpatrick. It, however, proved to be a brief respite as Avondhu kept their focus and finished the half strongly. As well, the impressive Declan McCarthy had to be alert twice between the Ballymartle posts, forced to pull off impressive saves from Herlihy and O’Brien.

Avondhu restarted 0-9 to 0-6 to the good. However, Ballymartle quickly set about reducing the lead with point from Jamie Dwyer (2) and Darren McCarthy – an O’Brien free was the Avondhu reply. Two more points from O’Brien stretched the lead again and by the 40th minute it remained a three-point game (0-13 to 0-10). By the end of the third quarter, a Kieran Morrisson point had pushed his side four points clear.

Ballymartle hit back. Sub Dan O’Leary bagged his second point before Jamie Dwyer had the sliotar in the Avondhu net, 1-12 to 0-15, and 10 minutes remaining. Crucially, O’Brien answered with a 65m. They were tied again before Denis Hayes and Jack Barry grabbed points for Avondhu. O’Leary rifled over another point for Ballymartle to cut the deficit once more to the bare minimum.

Again, O’Brien showed remarkable dead ball skills from an extremely tight angle.

In a grandstand finish Darren McCarthy made it a one-point match as the clock ticked towards 60 minutes. But O’Brien nailed another beauty to stretch the gap to two points.

In injury time now, Ballymartle won a free and Darren McCarthy had to drive the ball low and hard, but it was from distance. Rickard Cahalane did latch onto it but the Avondhu defence cleared to safety, epitomising the marvellous work rate that was evident throughout. The winners of Youghal and Bride Rovers await in round 2A.

Scorers for Avondhu:

P O’Brien (0-12, 0-7 frees, 0-3 65s), K Morrisson, A Cagney and J Barry (0-2 each), D Hayes and P Herlihy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Ballymartle:

J Dwyer (1-2), D McCarthy (0-5, two frees), K Fitzpatrick (0-4, two frees), D O’Leary (0-3), B Dwyer (0-1).

AVONDHU:

A Long (Mallow); J Daly (Fermoy), E Dillon (Milford), E Clancy (Fermoy); M Walsh (Kildorrery), B O’Sullivan (Fermoy), M Brennan (Fermoy); K Morrisson (Fermoy); J Barry (Charleville); S O’Connell (Milford), J Hayes (Mallow), P O’Brien (Kildorrery); A Cagney (Charleville), D Hayes (Mallow), P Herlihy (Mallow).

Subs:

H O’Gorman (Milford) for K Morrisson (bs 8-10), A Luttrell (Mallow) for M Brennan (bs 13-19), H O’Gorman (Milford) for S O’Connell (38), A Luttrell (Mallow) for M Walsh (43), J Buckley (Charleville) for A Luttrell (47 inj), M Kavanagh (Charleville) for A Cagney (55).

BALLYMARTLE:

Declan McCarthy; T J Murphy, M Tobin, D Edmonds; G Webb, A Gould, L Corry; S O’Mahony, B Dwyer; B Corry, R Cahalane, K Fitzpatrick; Darren McCarthy, J Dwyer, K McCarthy.

Subs:

D O’Leary for K McCarthy (30), D Dwyer for L Corry (half-time).

Referee:

Cathal McAllister (Aghada).



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