Blackrock 3-26 UCC 0-34 (aet)
A PULSATING Cork County SHC semi-final at headquarters that provided sixty three scores and took eighty minutes before a resolution was found in Blackrock’s favour.
Just the bare minimum separated the sides when referee Joe Larkin called time and it was one of those games that the memory bank will find hard to erase.
The Rockies are back in the final after losing out three years ago and for their sheer doggedness and refusal to yield when it looked like the pendulum was swinging in UCC’s favour, they just about deserved it.
Tremendous credit must be given to both sides for what was compelling stuff at times and UCC must be unique insofar as they put up 34 scores but still came out on the wrong end of the scoreline.
It all came down to the last 10 minutes of extra-time with UCC in front by three points and looking like they were going to make their first final since 1999.
But the Rockies put up the no surrender sign and secured the next five points to go two clear.
UCC got one back right on the full-time whistle but it wasn’t to be for them.
Blackrock’s hat-trick of goals in regulation time was another major contributory factor in their victory and their use of the bench was important too with one of their substitutes, Tadgh Deasy posting some sublime points.
Shane O’Keeffe, John O’Sullivan, Alan Connolly and Niall Cashman played significant roles too in their triumph and their collective character shone brightest when it was most required.
The outstanding Shane Conway delivered 14 points for UCC and still ended up on the losing side while Blarney trio, Mark Coleman, Shane Barrett and Padraig Power contributed handsomely too.
UCC led by a point at the interval, 0-13 to 1-9 with Conor Boylan very prominent in that period.
The Rockies goal was scored by Shane O’Keeffe after 21 minutes and a John O’Sullivan point suddenly had them four in front.
But UCC scored five unanswered points thereafter and at the break it was obvious this was going to be a game that was going all the way to the wire.
O’Keeffe nailed his second goal shortly after they resumed but UCC were not for turning and points from Andrew Casey, David Griffin and Conway had them back in front.
Barrett and Power fired over a few more points after Deasy had sublimely pointed a Rockies sideline.
The sides were deadlocked again after 53 minutes when Alan Connolly goaled but again UCC responded to go three points clear.
The Rockies needed a riposte now and points from Connolly and Niall Cashman had it down to a point.
Power put UCC two clear again as the clock counted down but again these Rockies bravehearts came again with Niall Cashman and Alan Connolly bringing the game to extra-time.
UCC led by a point, 0-30 to 3-20 after the first 10 minutes and when young Rockies sub Robbie Cotter pointed it was all square again.
But the Rockies resilience finally won the day with Alan Connolly rifling over their last two points.
It was as dramatic as it gets and maybe the old club spirit that exists in Church Road made that minimal of difference in the end.
Scorers for Blackrock: S. O’Keeffe (2-1); A. Connolly (1-7, 5 frees 1 65); T. Deasy (0-5, 1 sideline); J. O’Sullivan (0-4); N. Cashman (0-2 1 free 1 65); D. Meaney, M. O’Keeffe (0-2 each); Cathal Cormack, D. O’Farrell, R. Cotter (0-1 each).
UCC: S. Conway (0-14, 9 frees, 1 sideline); P. Power (0-6); C. Boylan, S. Barrett (0-3 each); D. Griffin, M. Kehoe (0-2 each); M. Coleman, B Verling, E Desmond, A Casey 0-1 each.
BLACKROCK: G Connolly; J. Ryan, G Norberg, R Laide; Cathal Cormack, N Cashman, S. Murphy; D Meaney, D O’Farrell; S O’Keeffe, Ciaran Cormack, M O’Keeffe; M O’Halloran, A. Connolly, J O’Sullivan.
Subs: J. Cashman and T. Deasy for O’Farrell and M. O’Keeffe (39); A. O’Callaghan for O’Halloran (68); K. O’Keeffe for Murphy (73).
UCC: (Cork unless stated) D. Desmond (Éire Óg,); E. Clifford (Cloughduv), D. Lowney (Clonakilty), K. O’Dwyer (Killenaule,); M. Coleman (Blarney), P. O’Loughlin (Kilmallock,), D. Griffin (Clonakilty); K O’Leary (Castlelyons), P. Cadell (JK Brackens); A. Casey (Ballyduff Upper), S. Conway (Lixnaw), M. Kehoe (Kilsheelan-Kilcash); S. Barrett (Blarney), P. Power (Blarney), C. Boylan (Na Piarsaigh).
Subs: E. Desmond (Carrigaline) for O’Leary (HT); O. McCarthy (Inniscarra) for Casey (67); B. Verling (Cloughduv) for Boylan (68); M O’Leary for O’Dwyer.
Referee: J. Larkin (Ballinora).