Blackrock 1-22 Ballyhea 1-13: Twelve months after losing heavily to Ballyhea, Blackrock were this time standing on the winner’s rostrum after a low-key Cork SHC first round clash at sun-splashed Mallow yesterday.
While this fixture lacked the cutting edge of knock-out hurling, that will not matter a jot to the Rockies, a club that is determined to leave its mark on this year’s campaign.
“We’re happy,” said Blackrock manager, Fergal Ryan afterwards. “We just focused on this game and aimed to get a win. Ballyhea gave us a good hiding last year so it was important for us to turn the tables from that point of view.”
The eagle-eyed Kevin O’Keeffe gave a tour de force from left corner-forward accumulating an impressive 1-12 (1-10 from placed balls), his penalty coming at the death after Alan O’Callaghan was hauled down in the square. At that point Ballyhea’s backline was running on empty having struggled for long periods to live with the pace and power of the Blackrock attack during the second moiety.
Though trailing by just two points at half time, Ballyhea were in a good position to challenge for victory on the turnover, but the Rockies upped the tempo considerably for the second-half, storming out the blocks on the restart to outscore their opponents 0-8 to 0-2 and lead by eight by the 41st minute.
A goal by Maurice O’Sullivan on 46 minutes gave much-needed oxygen to Ballyhea’s wilting efforts, a score that narrowed the gap to four and that gave the Avindhu men hope. However, in the next play, Pa O’Callaghan had a wonderful chance to narrow the gap further only to see his effort sail wide. A point might have seen the game take a different direction.
The sides were level on three occasions during a first half that failed to match the soaring temperatures. Too many frees and too many stoppages precipitated a staccato feel to a contest that rarely caught fire.
Maurice O’Sullivan opened scoring with a beautiful effort from the left wing before the Rockies replied with three quick-fire points from Kevin O’Keeffe (frees) and a fine score from Niall Cashman.
The Seandún side’s defence was proving particularly resilient, too, with Dylan Stokes and Gary Norberg strong in the tackle and efficient in clearing their lines. Midway through the first-half Ballyhea switched Pa O’Callaghan to the middle of the field where the Cork U21 proved more influential and, allied to the influential play of Barry Coleman and Liam O’Connor, the Magpies drew level in the 48th minute through points from John Morrissey and O’Callaghan.
The sides were level once again on 28 minutes after O’Callaghan pointed, but the Rockies finished the half stronger with Kevin O’Keeffe, Norberg and David Farrell landing points to leave it stand 0-9 to 0-7 at the break.
A more focused Blackrock re-emerged in the second-half and, by the 41st minute, were 0-17 to 0-9 in front, Shane O’Keeffe’s 37th minute point the pick from a litany of fine Rockies’ points. It appeared the game was ebbing away from Ballyhea before Gavin Morrissey pounced on a speculative John Morrissey ball into the Alan Long’s square. The Blackrock goalkeeper batted the ball away but Gavin Morrissey was on hand to return with power to the net.
Two frees from the outstanding Kevin O’Keeffe and a nicely judged effort from Stephen Murphy becalmed Blackrock nerves, and, although Ballyhea never threw in the towel they could not stop a very determined Blackrock from notching a further 1-1 in injury time through Michael O’Halloran (point) and Kevin O’Keeffe (penalty).
Scorers for Blackrock:
K O’Keeffe 1-12 (1-0 pen, 10f); G Regan 1-1; D Farrell and S O’Keeffe 0-2 each; N Cashman, D Cashman, S Murphy and M O’Halloran 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballyhea:
P O’Callaghan 0-8 (7f, 1 ‘65’); G Morrissey 1-0; M O’Sullivan 0-3; J Morrissey 0-2.
M Browne; O O’Sullivan, M Morrissey, K Copps; J Hennessy, B Coleman, S Dennehy; L O’Connor, D Copps; L Hanley, M O’Sullivan, P O’Callaghan; J Morrissey, G Morrissey, J O’Sullivan.
C Hanley for D Copps and E Rea for J O’Sullivan (both ht); T O’Sullivan for K Copps (50).
A Long; J Ryan, D Stokes, J Cashman; N Cashman, E Smith, A O’Callaghan; D O’Farrell, S Murphy; E O’Farrell, D Cashman, S O’Keeffe; M O’Halloran, G Regan, K O’Keeffe.
C Cormack for D Cashman (44); E O’Farrell for Regan (60).
B Murphy (Carrigtwohill)
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