Blackrock 4-15 Bishopstown 0-18
BISHOPSTOWN pushed Blackrock all the way in a fascinating Co-Op Superstores Premier SHC clash at Inniscarra, but the Rockies' balance up front and constant goal threat was the difference come full-time.
The Town were reeled in by Newtown and Erin's Own in their other group games and now face into a relegation play-off against Ballyhea. On the evidence here, with Shane O'Neill, Thomas Murray and Pa Cronin from their golden crop of county-winning minors as sharp as ever, aided by Brian Murray at midfield, they're more than capable of avoiding the drop.
Blackrock are front-runners for the Seán Óg Murphy cannister and after a pair of Mark O'Keeffe goals soon after the first-half water break never looked like getting caught. They were without Tadhg Deasy and John Cashman but welcomed back Niall Cashman and Michael O'Halloran, off the bench, from injury, which highlights the depth to their panel.
They're solid in every line, from the razor-sharp Gavin Connolly in goal, Gary Norberg and Stephen Murphy in defence, Daniel Meaney at midfield, and a plethora of dangerous attackers, including Robbie Cotter, Alan Connolly and the towering O'Keeffes, Shane and Mark.
Ultimately they couldn't better Glen Rovers' scoring difference to secure an automatic semi-final place, despite classy goals in the second half from Connolly and O'Halloran and must instead face Douglas in the quarter-finals.
That promises to be a belter of a game, with the winners then meeting UCC or Na Piarsaigh in the last four.
The Rockies will take stopping, though Bishopstown's clever passing game and excellent stickwork put it up to them for long spells.
Scorers for Blackrock: A Connolly 1-6 (0-5 f), M O’Keeffe 2-2, M O’Halloran 1-0, R Cotter 0-2, G Connolly (f), Cathal Cormack, D Meaney, D O’Farrell, Ciarán Cormack 0-1 each.
Bishopstown: P Cronin 0-8 (0-5 f), T Murray 0-5 (0-1 sl, 0-1 f), B Murray 0-3, C Hegarty, A O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
BLACKROCK: G Connolly; R Laide, G Norberg, J Ryan; Cathal Cormack (c), N Cashman, S Murphy; D Meaney, D O’Farrell; M O’Keeffe, Ciarán Cormack, J O’Sullivan; A Connolly, S O’Keeffe, R Cotter.
Subs: M O’Halloran for Ciarán Cormack (36), J Golden for O’Farrell (47), Ciarán Cormack for O’Sullivan (58).
BISHOPSTOWN: K O’Halloran; E Byrne, S O’Neill, S Murphy; D Lester, B McConville, B Murphy; C Hegarty, B Murray; T Murray, S Lordan, P Cronin; M Power, M O’Driscoll, J Scally.
Subs: L Lordan for Power (42), C O’Hora for Hegarty (49), A O’Sullivan for S Lordan (52).
Referee: Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).