Watergrasshill 1-15 Blarney 0-14: Watergrasshill deservedly took the spoils from an exciting Cork PIHC first round tie at Riverstown yesterday, but only after a late goal from William Connolly put this game beyond the reach of battling Blarney.
Connolly’s 32nd-minute strike came as Watergrasshill fought to maintain a single point advantage and Blarney were pressing hard for an equaliser.
Overall, however, the better side won, at least team mentor Ciaran O’Neill believed that was the case: “I suppose we lacked a bit of composure in the first-half, we took wrong options at times but you’ll get that in the first championship game of the year.
“We were probably under a bit of pressure after the poor display against Mallow last year but we dug it out well and we had John Halbert there to help us out - he’s in a different class. As the game went on guys relaxed a bit and the points started going over instead of wide.”
It was all square at half-time with both attacks guilty of poor finishing time and again.
At the end of 30 minutes, it was 8-6 in terms of missed chances, but the scorned opportunities for Watergrasshill came in quick succession in the opening exchanges.
In the opening quarter, for instance, the wide count was 6-1 and of the three points scored by the winners, only one came from play.
In terms of possession, Watergrasshill had the better of the game but Blarney should be lauded for the way they took their opportunities and for battling well in defence.
Watergrasshill did, however, settle into their stride and three late second half points in particular from Shane O’Regan, Patrick Cronin, and John Halbert left no doubt as to their potential.
Watergrasshill stormed into a three points lead with early second-half scores, the Halbert brothers contributing points as Blarney fought to stay in touch with a Keith Costello score.
Blarney did battle on, and they were within a point heading towards the end of normal time; indeed,they might even have been in front were it not for a magnificent point-blank save from Darragh O’Callaghan from David Dunlea.
Then came Connolly’s powerful strike to spark wild celebrations in the Watergrasshill ranks.
For Blarney, it’s time to re-group and put this defeat behind them. Team manager Michael O’Mahony admitted it was an uphill struggle throughout the second-half: “We struggled to get level, Watergrasshill were value for their win but we hope for better than today, we’re up against Charleville in a couple of weeks so now we’ll just go way now and prepare for that.”
Scorers for Watergrasshill:
W Connolly 1-0, S O’Regan 0-6 (0-4 frees), J Halbert 0-4, B Halbert 0-3, P Cronin 0-2.
Scorers for Blarney:
B O’Connell 0-5 (0-1 free), M Coleman 0-3, K Costello, L Sheehan 0-2 each, D Dunlea, B Hurley 0-1 each.
D O’Callaghan, A Ricken, E O’Reilly, M Barry, S O’Callaghan, K O’Neill, P O’Regan, A Cronin (captain), P Cronin, W Connolly, S O’Regan, E Barry, W O’Leary, D O’Farrell, J Halbert.
B Halbert for E Barry (27), D McCarthy for W O’Leary (55), K Coakley for E O’Reilly (57, injured).
P Hallissey, J Barrett, D Walsh, D McSweeney (captain), P Philpott, J Jordan, P O’Connor, K Costello, M Coleman, R Murphy, S Lohan, B O’Connell, B Hurley, D Dunlea, C Murphy.
S Crowley (Argideen Rangers).
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