Cork PIHC final
Newcestown 1-23 Valley Rovers 0-8
There were so many ingredients adding to a fervour-laden build-up to the Premier IHC final, it was a pity there wasn’t an enthralling game to match, but Newcestown don’t owe any apologies for that.
Having lost to Ballyhea in the final last season, they were in no mood to let another chance of senior hurling slip.
They put together a devastating performance, pushing clear after an even opening quarter to leave no doubt as to their credentials to operate as a dual senior club in 2016.
The wait to play senior hurling might not seem interminable, given that the club was ‘only’ formed in December 1958. For all but the first nine years of that existence, however, Jimmy O’Mahony has been the club secretary, and seeing them play at the top level will fulfil a life’s ambition for him.
Yesterday’s captain John Crowley made his debut in 1997 and will take to the field in the SHC first round next summer as a 38-year-old, having more than played his part in ensuring the ascension.
To describe the all-round team effort which brought this win as exceptional would be inaccurate as the days when Newcestown lack such overall application are the exceptions.
The game was tied at 0-3 each after 15 minutes but even that masked the territorial dominance of Newcestown, who had amassed six wides by that stage.
By half-time, they had begun to find their groove, leading by 0-10 to 0-4 with nine wides. By the time their 10th came, in the 55th minute, the scoreboard read 0-21 to 0-8 in their favour and there was no doubting the outcome.
A vignette of their labour came in the 22nd minute after a trio of points from Daniel Twomey, Eoin Kelly and Carthach Keane had put them 0-5 to 0-3 in front.
Valley Rovers midfielder Darragh Looney found him in possession around midfield but was soon set upon by four players in red and yellow. After the ball was turned over, Newcestown’s Luke Meade was fouled and Twomey sent over the resulting free to leave three points in it, though Chris O’Leary did respond with a Valleys free from halfway.
Newcestown were motoring now, though. Twomey dominated the first half from a deep berth alongside his brother Tadhg and Jack Meade at midfield and his fourth point came hot on the heels of a fine Seán O’Donovan score, both assisted by Fionn Keane.
Twomey’s run directly led to Carthach Keane’s second point to make it 0-9 to 0-4 and they wrapped up the half with a flowing team score of the highest order.
From a clearance by centre-back James Desmond, the ball was worked through Carthach Keane, Luke Meade and Twomey before a perfect hand-off back to Meade allowed him to leave six in it at the interval.
It was Valleys misfortune to not be as well-calibrated on a day when the occasion and the opponents demanded it. Their preparations were disrupted by the funeral of Noel O’Donovan Sr, father of their full-back Noel, but he was one of their better performers on the day.
The Innishannon outfit made three half-time changes but Newcestown continued to keep the scoreboard ticking and had pushed 0-13 to 0-5 ahead when Chris O’Leary got his fourth and Valleys’ sixth point on 40.
Fiachra Lynch might have swung the momentum back their way with a scoring attempt straight after that but Fionn Keane executed a perfect block and then despatched the ball to his brother Carthach, who extended the margin further.
To emphasise the options available to them, Mikey Bradfield came on and scored two fine points as the space opened up, with Colm Dineen also scoring a point from the bench.
The lead stood at 0-22 to 0-8 in the 59th minute when Valleys goalkeeper Willie Burke took delivery of a high ball and met the incoming Seán O’Donovan with a shoulder and was harshly penalised for charging. Showing no mood for mercy, Daniel Twomey drilled the penalty home and Bradfield rounded things off for his third point.
Making a dual assault at senior with largely the same panels will be a tall order, but Newcestown are well used to meeting challenges and overcoming them.
Scorers for Newcestown:
D Twomey 1-5 (two frees, one 65), C Keane, S O’Donovan, L Meade, E Kelly (two frees), M Bradfield 0-3 each, J Meade 0-2, C Dineen 0-1.
Scorers for Valley Rovers:
C O’Leary 0-4 (three frees), K Canty 0-2, J Walsh, D Crowley 0-1 each.
D Heffernan; M McSweeney, G Murphy, J Crowley; C O’Neill, J Desmond, F Keane; T Twomey, J Meade; L Meade, C Keane, C Twomey; S O’Donovan, E Kelly, D Twomey.
M Bradfield for E Kelly (45), S Ryan for T Twomey (50, injured), T Horgan for C Keane (54), C Dineen for C Twomey (56).
W Burke; C Desmond, N O’Donovan, T O’Brien; D Murphy, D Lynch, J Lynch; G Farrell, D Looney; E O’Reilly, J Walsh, F Lynch; K Canty, C O’Leary, R Butler.
J Cottrell for F Lynch (6-7, blood), Cottrell for O’Reilly, B Crowley for Butler, F Coughlan for Looney (all half-time), D Crowley for F Lynch (44), J Hurley for Walsh (49).
C McAllister (Aghada).
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