Piarsaigh goals crucial as Newtown collapse

Na Piarsaigh 3-15 Newtownshandrum 0-14
Oh how quickly it all unravelled for Newtownshandrum.

Ahead on two occasions early in the second-half, the north Cork outfit had recovered from a Keith Buckley goal to restore parity (1-9 to 0-12) entering the final quarter. Indeed, with Jamie Coughlan razor sharp from placed balls and forward colleagues Ryan Clifford and James Bowles proving more than capable in their supporting roles, Liam Ryan’s side held pole position turning the bend for home.

Alas, when Cathal McAllister sounded the final whistle shortly before 4pm, the Newtownshandrum players found themselves 10-points adrift, and few complaints can they have with the margin of defeat.

In a soulless and error-ridden affair, it was a most intriguing final quarter – Newtownshandrum inexplicably collapsing, Na Piarsaigh pouncing for two hugely opportunistic goals.

Keith Buckley and Padraig Gould swatted points to re-establish Na Piarsaigh’s two-point advantage and although James Bowles cut the deficit to the minimum, by the time Newtownshandrum again added to their tally they would trail by eight-points.

On 50 minutes, Buckley attempted to find Anthony Dennehy from a close range free. The pass didn’t find its intended target, but Newtownshandrum struggled to clear their lines. Possession was returned to Buckley who rounded corner-back Dermot Gleeson and dispatched clinically beyond ’keeper Willie Biggane. Buckley split the posts in the ensuing passage of play and from a contest which had ebbed and flowed all through, here were Na Piarsaigh with a 2-12 to 0-13 lead.

The city club rubberstamped their semi-final berth in the subsequent action, Padraig Gould batting to the net after Biggane had produced a smart save to deny Dwayne Lee.

Anthony Dennehy, his fourth of the afternoon, and a Padraig Gould brace rounded off a remarkable closing spurt from the winners – 2-4 to 0-2 they outscored Newtownshandrum in the final 15 minutes of action.

“Goals win games and that was very much the case here,” reflected Na Piarsaigh coach Sean Guiheen.

“The first goal was crucial in that if gives you a lift. We thrived on it. We kicked on and it gave us confidence. We weren’t as nervy as we had been up to that point. The goals certainly came at the right times for us.

“Keith’s second goal was the one that saw us home. There was only 10 minutes to go at that stage. ”

Newtownshandrum operated a two-man full-forward line during the opening half, with Patrick Rourke plying his trade behind the half-back line. From the perspective of limiting Na Piarsaigh’s forward openings, it had the desired effect. At the other end of the field, however, they struggled to make any real headway close to goal. With James and Michael Bowles outnumbered, and in truth out-hurled, inside, Newtownshandrum were forced to shoot from distance. The collective radar, though, was far from in perfect working order. Seven first-half wides they clocked, added to four efforts dropped into the hand of Na Piarsaigh keeper Darragh O’Connell.

The losers finished the half with six different scorers – Ryan Clifford, Cathal Naughton, Conor Twomey, Jerry Lane, Mattie Ryan and Coughlan on target; the latter saw his penalty drive deflected over the crossbar at the end of the first quarter.

Na Piarsaigh, meanwhile, were heavily reliant on Anthony Dennehy and Keith Buckley – the pair contributing all but two of their first-half tally, the sides deadlocked 0-7 apiece at the break.

And so Na Piarsaigh march on to a second successive semi-final appearance, Sars providing the opposition on this occasion.

“We certainly will not fear Sars,” continued Guiheen. “We know we will have to perform the next day. Sars will be raging hot favourites, but on our day if we perform we know we can beat anyone in the competition. ”

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: K Buckley (2-5, 0-4 frees); P Gould (1-4, 0-1 pen); Anthony Dennehy (0-4); S O’Sullivan, P Rourke (0-1 each).

Scorers for Newtownshandrum: J Coughlan (0-6, 0-3 frees, 0-1 pen, 0-1 ’65); J Bowles (0-2); M Thompson, C Twomey, M Ryan, C Naughton, J Lane, R Clifford (0-1 each).

NA PIARSAIGH: D O’Connell; A Brady, D Mannix, E Moynihan; Adam Dennehy, J Gardiner, S Óg Ó hAilpín; C Joyce, C Buckley; K Buckley, P Rourke, P Gould; D Lee, Anthony Dennehy, A Kenneally.

Subs: A Keating for O’Connell (HT), S O’Sullivan for Kenneally (HT).

NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: W Biggane; G O’Mahony, R Fallon, D Gleeson; J Herlihy, C Twomey, M Ryan; PJ Copse, C Naughton; R Clifford, J Coughlan, J Lane; M Bowles, J Bowles, JP King.

Subs: T O’Mahony for Lane (28 mins), J O’Mahony for G O’Mahony (38 mins), M Thompson for M Bowles (51), D Stack for Naughton (55).

Referee: C McAllister (Aghada).

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