Castlelyons 1-23 Courcey Rovers 1-17
A BETTER-BALANCED Castlelyons side were deserving winners over Courcey Rovers in Saturday afternoon’s PIHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn.
The Ballinspittle team did not make it easy for them, however, particularly in the opening half but the East Cork side raised their game considerably in the second half and in the end few could argue with the outcome.
They lost the final in 2013 in a low-scoring encounter with Youghal but on the evidence presented here, they are more than capable of setting the record straight in a fortnight’s time.
This was an entertaining hour’s hurling with both sides delivering some fine scores but Castlelyons had the greater potency up front and had the three Spillane brothers, Anthony, Colm, and Michael, contributing handsomely on the scoreboard with Anthony particularly impressive.
They have a strong spine down the middle with the experienced Colm Barry and Niall O’Leary, assertive at full-back and centre-back respectively while the likes of Alan Fenton, Keith O’Leary, Tom Carroll and Barry Murphy also provided plenty of energy on a pristine sod.
Courcey Rovers' cause was not helped by the early withdrawal of Sean Twomey through injury and a fully-fit contribution from the Cork U20 would have boosted them considerably.
And he was hugely instrumental in getting his side off to a flyer in the opening minute when he crashed home a fine goal after poor clearance from Jack Barry in the Castlelyons goal.
Thereafter, however, Barry was in fine form as the Castlelyons' last line of defence.
Courcey Rovers were the better side in the opening sequences and led by six points after just eight minutes.
Aidan O’Donovan, Richard Swetnam, Stephen Nyhan and Tadgh O’Sullivan added points following Twomey's Early goal and they were going very well at that early stage in the proceedings.
Gradually, however, Castlelyons settled into the game and the scores arrived with Anthony Spillane hugely influential.
He banged home a fine goal in the 27th minute and by the interval, the East Cork team had fully reasserted themselves and led by two points, 1-12 to 1-10.
Ronan Nyhan and Sweetnam levelled it all up for Courcey Rovers when they resumed but Castlelyons seized control thereafter.
Colm Spillane burst into the game on the forty, winning possession and firing over a hat-trick of superb points Anthony Spillane added to his tally with a few more and after seven unanswered scores, they led by seven points.
Courceys, however, battled bravely and reduced the gap to four points after scores from Sweetnam and Michael O’Donovan.
But Castlelyons were not for turning and a few points from Alan Fenton had them firmly in the driving seat again.
Courcey Rovers desperately required a goal but the Castlelyons defence was always standing firm and in the end, they had power and the balance to see them safely into the winner’s enclosure.
So it’s four wins from four now for Castlelyons and there is a lot of depth and experience throughout this team and, no doubt, the pain of losing a final back in 2013 will drive them on even more now.
Scorers for Castlelyons: A Spillane 1-6, M Spillane 0-5 (0-2 f, 0-165), C Spillane 0-3, A Fenton 0-3 (0-2 f), B Murphy, K O’Leary 0-2 each, J Kearney, T Carroll 0-1 each.
Courcey Rovers: R Sweetnam 0-6 (0-4 f), S Twomey 1-0, A O’Donovan, T O’Sullivan, J O’Neill 0-2 each, S Nyhan free, O Crowley, R Nyhan, L Jeffries, M O’Donovan 0-1 each.
CASTLELYONS: J Barry, J O’Leary, C Barry, T Carroll, L Sexton, N O’Leary, C O’Neill, E Maye, K O’Leary, B Murphy, C Spillane, A Fenton, J Kearney, A Spillane, M Spillane.
Subs : L Doocey for M Spillane (42), B Carroll for B Murphy (56).
COURCEY ROVERS: S Nyhan, K Collins, L Mulcahy, C Daly, M Collins, F Lordan, B Collins, J O’Neill, DJ Twomey, B Ryan, R Nyhan, T O’Sullivan, R Sweetnam, S Twomey, A O’Donovan.
Subs: O Crowley for S Twomey (7 inj), D Duggan for Daly (25), M Donovan for Ryan (H-t), M Donovan for DJ Twomey (h-t), L Jeffries for Crowley (55).
Referee: T O’Donovan (Douglas).