Fr O’Neill’s 4-13 Newcestown 1-13
A game-changing three-goal blitz in the run-up to half-time proved to be the vital period of the game for Fr O’Neill’s as they booked their place in the final of the Co-op Superstores Cork SAHC final in Páirc Uí Rinn.
It sets up a mouth-watering final against Charleville next weekend where the wide open spaces of Páirc Uí Chaoimh will suit the youthful vigour of both teams.
O’Neill’s struggled to find their groove here early on, mainly due to endless endeavour, and trailed by 1-3 to 0-5 at the water break.
On the resumption, however, they turned the game completely on its head. Paudie McMahon brought them level, Liam O’Driscoll gave them the lead for the first time before the imperious Declan Dalton nearly burst the net with a 21-yard free to put them in control.
Another O’Driscoll point and a goal from Rob Cullinane doubled their lead before Cian Healy gave Newcestown some rest bite with a free, their first score in sixteen minutes.
Newcestown’s afternoon soon got worse as they lost Colm Dineen to a second yellow card before a Billy Dunne point and Dalton’s second goal left them facing into the abyss, as they trailed by 3-9 to 1-4 at the break.
Newcestown, who were grieving the loss of their founding member, Jimmy O’Mahony, started the second-half well with scores from Healy and Luke Meade, but O’Neill’s soon finished the game as a contest.
McMahon slotted over his second score, Dalton fired over a super point from play before Billy Dunne fed Liam O’Driscoll who goaled from close range. O’Driscoll then intercepted the following puck-out before pointing to give the Imokilly side a 4-12 to 1-6 advantage.
However, the Fr O’Neill’s management will be concerned by the way in which they faded out of the game following O’Driscoll’s point.
Newcestown outscored their east-Cork rivals by 0-7 to 0-1 down the stretch with Luke Meade, Jack Meade and Conor O’Neill all hurling to a standstill but try as they might, they couldn’t find the goal that would have made matters interesting, though Jack Meade did hit the post twice.
O’Neill’s were thankful for the excellent defending of Mark O’Keeffe and Sean O’Connor will need big performances from all of their players as they face into their second county-final in two years.
Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: D Dalton 2-3 (1-2 f), L O’Driscoll 1-3, R Cullinane 1-0, B Dunne 0-3, P McMahon 0-2, K O’Sullivan, Joe Millerick 0-1 each.
Newcestown: C Healy 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-2 f, 0-1 65), L Meade, J Meade and E Kelly (f) 0-2 each, C O’Neill (65), T Twomey, J Kelleher 0-1 each.
FR O’NEILL’S: C Sloane; M Millerick (JC), S O’Connor, E Motherway; J Barry, M O’Keeffe, T Millerick; K O’Sullivan, Joe Millerick; R Cullinane, P McMahon (JC), J Hankard, L O’Driscoll, D Dalton, B Dunne.
Subs: John Millerick for Dunne (blood, 44-46), E Conway for Hankard (44), P Butler for Motherway (44), John Millerick for Joe Millerick (46), C Broderick for T Millerick (50).
NEWCESTOWN: C Wilson; M McSweeney (c), C Twomey, N Murray; C O’Neill, L Meade, G O’Donovan; C Dineen, T Twomey; J Meade, J Kelleher, D Twomey; D Buckley, S O’Donovan, C Healy.
Subs: S O’Sullivan for D Twomey (h-t), E Kelly for Healy (40), Collins for Murray (40).
Referee: Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).