Douglas 2-21 Midleton 2-16 Dublin, you know, weren’t the only champions to fall yesterday afternoon.
Midleton’s reign as Cork senior hurling title holders was unceremoniously ended by a tenacious and supremely hungry Douglas outfit, the 2013 winners crashing to the floor at the shrill of Diarmuid Kirwan’s final whistle.
It has been a frustrating summer for Peter Smith’s charges, victory over Killeagh the sole positive, if even you could call it that, of their unsuccessful title defence. After the dizzying heights of last year they never looked like emulating that form again, certainly not during this one.
Five points separated the sides at the death and, truth be told, Douglas were full value for their victory. The work-rate in defence, complimented by the sharpness of the front six, both units excellently led by the Cadogan brothers, the platform from which they escorted Midleton to the exit door.
Manager Cathal Collins was at pains to stress no silverware has yet been collected, but he’ll have some job keeping a lid on the hype sure to grip the club on the run-in to their quarter-final fixture against Youghal. In sum, both 2013 county finalists have now fallen at Douglas’ sword. No greater statement of intent can you issue.
More impressive was this victory when you consider it was achieved from a position of weakness, 2-14 to 0-17 they trailed on 49 minutes following Midleton’s second major. Luke O’Farrell, set-up by Brian Hartnett, whipped the sliotar beyond Douglas goalkeeper Tom Delaney. Remember, by this juncture, Douglas had yet to raise a green flag.
In the subsequent action, full-forward Mark O’Connor drilled wide a run-of-the-mill free. The collective groan from the Douglas contingent was ominous. From the puckout, O’Connor was afforded a shot at redemption, this time from inside his own half. The posts sweetly split.
On 54 minutes, Alan Cadogan cut in from the left corner before being pulled to the ground by Seamus O’Farrell. Penalty. Step forward Mark Harrington. Goal Douglas.
Conor Lehane nailed his sixth free thereafter to level matters for the seventh time. With the top half of the sandglass quickly running empty, the next score would prove crucial. Two minutes out, Mark Harrington’s delivery broke kindly to Mark Collins who connected superbly as the sliotar hopped off the Páirc Uí Chaoimh sod. Goal Douglas.
Midleton’s resistance was broken and white flags courtesy of Stephen Moylan, O’Connor and sub Finbarr Desmond sealed the win “Our character was most pleasing,” said a delighted Cathal Collins afterwards.
“There were a few times we thought we would get frees, Alan Cadogan was fouled at one point and we didn’t get anything from it. Midleton went up the field and got a point. Then they got the goal. You’d say it is gone, but I know these fellas. There is a special bunch of players there. They were super today.
“We were four points down in the second-half and we turned it around. We deserved this. Stephen Moylan came out to midfield in the second-half and he made a difference. Mark Harrington was excellent. Eoin Cadogan was outstanding. Paul Clarke, you couldn’t fault him. Mark O’Connor missed a routine free at the Blackrock end. He came back out straight away and put over a huge free.
“We have beaten last year’s two finalists, but we have nothing won yet. You have nothing won until you take that cup above in that stand.”
The winners opened the brighter, responding to Paul Haughney’s effort 37 seconds in with four points on the trot – Alan Cadogan bookending the flurry of scores. And what an hour Cadogan would enjoy, five points he tallied, not to mention the penalty and countless other frees he won.
Brother Eoin was similarly excellent in keeping the tightest of leashes on Conor Lehane. It was the latter’s delivery which saw Brian Hartnett pull to the net for the contest’s opening goal on 13 minutes. The champions struck five unanswered minors subsequently – Lehane, Haughney and Hartnett the providers. 1-9 to 0-8 they led at the interval, Douglas ‘keeper Tom Delaney’s penalty effort rising the wrong side of the woodwork in first-half stoppage time. A Conor Lehane free early in the second period extended their lead to five, but no greater would it grow. Stephen Moylan, Alan Cadogan (0-2) and two massive Mark O’Connor strikes squared proceedings, setting the scene for a most dramatic final quarter, one where Douglas suggested they will take some stopping in their bid to annex the Séan Óg Murphy Cup.
Scorers for Douglas: M O’Connor (0-8, 6fs), M Collins (1-2), A Cadogan (0-5), S Moylan (0-3), M Harrington (1-0pen), A Ward, T Delaney (0-1 pen), F Desmond (0-1 each).
Scorers for Midleton: C Lehane (0-10, 7fs, 1 65), L O’Farrell (1-2), B Hartnett (1-1), P Haughney (0-2), P O’Shea (0-1).
DOUGLAS: T Delaney; F Tobin, E Cadogan, P Shine; M McGrath, C Lucey, P Clarke; O Mulrooney, M Harrington; M Collins, J Moylan, S Moylan; A Ward, M O’Connor, A Cadogan.
Subs: E Dolan for Mulrooney (ht), F Desmond for J Moylan (39), M O’Callaghan for Ward (57).
MIDLETON: J Loftus; F O’Mahony, A Kearney, S O’Farrell; F O’Mahony, J Nagle, P Dowling; C Walsh, P Haughney; L O’Farrell, A Ryan, P O’Shea; P White, C Lehane, B Hartnett.
Subs: S Smyth for White (50).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).
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