Newtown held as goal hero Murphy rescues Erin’s Own

A DRAMATIC late, late goal for Erin’s Own, Kieran ‘Hero’ Murphy – living up to his nickname with a superb ‘double’ on a long Killian Murphy centre – one minute into injury-time, was enough to deny reigning champions Newtownshandrum victory in this Cork SHC quarter-final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday.

Having battled back from a terrible start in which they conceded two goals in the opening four minutes, it was no more than the Glounthane side deserved, and yet Newtownshandrum will surely be kicking themselves.

With only two minutes left they were a solid four points in front; heading into injury-time that was back to a goal but the Newtown defence was coping comfortably.

Then came a bad Newtown error, possession carelessly lost out on the right wing, ball beautifully delivered by wing-back Murphy into the Newtown danger area, even more beautifully pulled on by the Hero, who had been shifted from midfield to the edge of the square – net billowing.

Certainly manager Phil Noonan wasn’t a happy man afterwards: “We’re disappointed. We were ahead at the right time but some messing on the right wing at the end, instead of doing what they were told to do, get the ball up the field – deciding to run with the ball, which was crazy, the result of it a goal at the other end. Overall a draw might be a fair result but we felt that on the second half performance we just about deserved it.”

Perhaps Phil is right, and Newtown did look slightly better for most of the match, but despite that fine start, they were never able to pull clear of a dogged Erin’s Own.

Erin’s Own manager Michael O’Connor feared “a drubbing” after those two early Newtown goals, the first within 20 seconds of the throw-in, wing-back Jack O’Herlihy with a tremendous charge straight down the middle, parting to full-forward James Bowles for the shot, the second a few minutes later when the pacy Cathal Naughton raced on to a breaking ball in midfield and belted a beauty past Kieran Murphy (a different Kieran) in the Erin’s Own goal.

That drubbing, however, never materialised; a series of Newtown defensive transgressions were all punished by deadly-accurate free-taker Eoin Murphy, together with a cheekily-taken goal by Maurice O’Carroll, put in position by an inch-perfect pass by Alan Bowen, there was just two points between the sides at the break, Newtown ahead 2-6 to 1-7, having played with the aid of the strong breeze.

Seven minutes after the restart it was level pegging, Erin’s Own points from Seán Kelly, O’Carroll, Eoin Murphy and the increasingly influential Brian Clifford in midfield, against just two for Newtown (Ryan Clifford and James Bowles), tying it up, and now, wind in their sails, Erin’s Own were in the driving seat.

It was at this stage, however, that Newtownshandrum took on the look of champions, and a goal from wing-forward Michael Bowles after good work by Dermot Gleeson and John O’Connor, followed by a brace of points by Ben O’Connor to put the Cork kingpins five to the good.

Again, however, they failed to drive on – “We don’t seem to be able to press home our advantage at the moment,” said Phil Noonan, “But maybe it will come.”

Maybe, but they’re going to need more from their attack, as will Erin’s Own at the other end, if they are to go much further in this championship.

Admittedly it was a good night for defenders, with Jerry O’Mahony and Dermot Gleeson (Newtown), and Paul Fenton and Shane Murphy (Erin’s Own) outstanding in the corners, Peter Kelly (Erin’s Own) and Pat Mulcahy (Newtown) commanding at centre-back, but this was a perfect evening for attacking hurling, and both sides were guilty of missing gilt-edged chances.

“It was a great game, good for the county,” said a smiling Michael O’Connor. “The pendulum had been swinging towards Newtown, but maybe, maybe, it’s now swinging towards us. Overall I’m very pleased with the display, a lot happier than we were half an hour ago.”

Scorers for Newtownshandrum: J Bowles (1-1); M Bowles (1-1); B O’Connor (0-4, 0-3f); C Naughton 1-0; R Clifford (0-2); PJ Copse, Jerry O’Connor, John O’Connor (0-1).

Erin’s Own: E Murphy (0-8, 0-7f); M O’Carroll (1-1); K Murphy (1-0); B Clifford (0-3); S Kelly, C Coakley (0-1).

NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: W Biggane; J O’Mahony, G O’Mahony, D Gleeson; J O’Herlihy, P Mulcahy, P Noonan; PJ Copse, C Naughton; R Clifford, Jerry O’Connor (c), M Bowles; J Coughlan, J Bowles, B O’Connor. Subs: John O’Connor for Coughlan (30); R Farrissey for Naughton (60+1).

ERIN’S OWN: Kieran Murphy; P Fenton, P Fitzgerald (c), S Murphy; S Cronin, P Kelly, Killian Murphy; Kieran ‘Hero’ Murphy, B Clifford; S Kelly, M O’Carroll, M O’Connor; C Coakley, E Murphy, A Bowen. Sub: M Collins for Kelly (55)

Referee: D Kirwan (Eire Óg).

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