Round four of the Cork senior hurling championship at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday and also the unofficial Carrigdhoun divisional final as these two old foes went toe to toe in a typical tight derby battle.
They’re familiar with each other, Ballymartle and Courcey Rovers, perhaps too familiar which made for one hell of a cagey game.
Ballymartle were fielding without four regulars, Seamus Corry, Dan Dwyer, Jamie Dwyer and Daniel Edmonds all currently on a break in America, and it showed.
For most of the game they played second fiddle to Courceys, were tied at the break on 0-5 apiece when they should have been trailing by at least five, did trail by two with just eight minutes of regular time remaining (0-10 to 0-8), but managed to pull the game out of the fire with a late Darren McCarthy-inspired charge.
McCarthy was the stand-out player for the winners. He started in midfield but it was when shifted to corner-forward that he really began to do damage. One point he scored in the first-half, after his move, six more in the second, three of those in those final minutes. Not bad for a man who spends most of his practice time as back-up Cork senior keeper to Anthony Nash!
“It’s tough,” he explained, of making the transition back to playing as a forward.
“I’ve done very little for the last six weeks or so with the club because of the county involvement. I was released for last week, trained on Tuesday and Thursday but it’s difficult to get back to the intensity of playing outfield again at this level.”
Well, he did fine, better than fine eventually.
Veteran Vincent Hurley led a superb defensive display by Courcey Rovers, a sextet Ballymartle had real problems in breaking down. The full-back trio of Colm Daly, Brian Hayes and Dan Lordan was supreme and every single one of those first-half Ballymartle points was hard earned, free-taker Barry Dwyer with three.
Courcey too, however, were finding it difficult to score, partly because of solid Ballymartle defence, but mainly because of inaccuracy — nine wides in that opening half. Had they someone of Darren McCarthy’s ability, who knows? Could have been game over, a fact admitted by Ballymartle coach Anthony McCarthy. “We were lucky to be going in at half-time five points each. They had a lot of wides, they had more possession, they had more fire, they were more ‘up’ for it than us. We gave the lads an awful bollicking at half-time, that wasn’t the position we wanted to be in.
“I’d say Courcey Rovers must feel very deprived of that win tonight because they gave it everything. With time up we’d have taken a draw, very lucky to be going out of here with a three-point win.”
In the second-half Courceys continued to look the better team, even if only marginally so, and with points from Daire Lordan (three), Shane Moloney and sub Cian Lordan, edged into that two-point lead in the 52nd minute.
Just in time, however, Ballymartle found their game, and found their hero. Darren McCarthy again.
“We made hard work of it, got out of jail and that’s for sure. I don’t think it was a game for the purist, was it?
“We didn’t play at all in the first half and even for most of the second half we were still struggling but thanks be to God we pulled it out of the bag. The boys tightened up in the back-line, gave nothing away, we got a few vital scores. Courceys will probably feel they threw it away.”
Scorers for Ballymartle: Darren McCarthy 0-7 (2f, 1 65); B Dwyer 0-4 (2f); S O’Mahony, R Dwyer, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Courcey Rovers: Daire Lordan 0-7 (3f, 1 65); S Moloney, J Murphy, C Lordan, 0-1 each.
BALLYMARTLE: Declan McCarthy; D O’Dwyer, M Tobin, D Coleman; J Kelly, P Dwyer, C Coleman; TJ Murphy, Darren McCarthy; S O’Mahony, R Dwyer, B Dwyer; R Cahalane, B Corry, K Fitzpatrick.
Subs: C McCarthy (Cahalane 49).
COURCEY ROVERS: S Nyhan; C Daly, B Hayes, Dan Lordan; O Gately, V Hurley, J Duggan; K Moloney, G Moloney; J Murphy, Daire Lordan, S Moloney; G Minihane, N Murphy, S Holland.
Subs: C Lordan (Holland 30); J O’Regan (N Murphy 45); S McCarthy (Duggan 55).
Referee: J O’Connor (Lisgoold).
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