Valley Rovers 0-20 Blackrock 1-14
A TALLY of 15 points from Cork’s Chris O’Leary helped Valley Rovers to victory over Blackrock in Friday night’s Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC relegation play-off at Páirc Uí Rinn.
The Innishannon side couldn’t ever get fully clear of Blackrock’s clutches and when sub David Cashman netted a goal for the Rockies on 58 minutes, it left just two points between the teams. Thankfully for the Rovers, it was as close as they allowed their opponents to come and they will hurl in the third tier again next year while Blackrock drop down to intermediate A.
The periods just before and after half-time were where Valleys did the most to establish a gap between the sides. Coming up to the break, they led by a point, 0-9 to 0-8, and needed corner-back Tomás O’Brien to clear off the line when Olan Kelleher’s goalward delivery eluded everybody else and almost ended up in the net.
In first-half injury time, Chris O’Leary’s seventh point of the game ensured Valleys retired with a 0-10 to 0-8 interval advantage and he added another on the resumption but Olan Kelleher might have replied with a Rockies goal only for a good O’Brien block.
After that, Valleys had three consecutive points, one from Seán O’Regan followed by a pair of O’Leary frees and they were 0-14 to 0-9 in front, the largest lead of the game up to then.
By the time of the second-half water break, two Eoin O’Farrell frees had helped Blackrock to only slightly eat into the deficit, 0-15 to 0-11 the score, and Valleys pushed on again after action restarted with points from Jack Walsh and O’Leary (two), answered by Rockies half-backs Ross Coleman and Alan O’Callaghan.
That meant it was 0-18 to 0-13 with two minutes of normal time left when Blackrock sub Martin O’Farrell went for a point and, with the ball within reach, goalkeeper Darragh Looney brought it down. That allowed another sub, David Cashman, an attempt at a goal and, while Looney blocked his initial effort, the ball was kept alive in the danger area by the Rockies and Cashman sent a pulled effort to the net.
It left just two points in it, and when O’Leary got his 14th point of the night, Blackrock midfielder Conor O’Brien replied. Unfortunately for Blackrock, there were no further goal chances and O’Leary’s 15th and final score left Valleys three clear at the end.
The victors had had a dream start with a Cormac Kilduff point inside ten seconds but Olan Kelleher replied for the Rockies and the first half was nip and tuck throughout. While points from O’Leary and Kevin Canty had Valleys 0-5 to 0-2 ahead after ten minutes, Colin O’Leary and Liam O’Sullivan were on target for Blackrock. However, while the same one-point margin pertained at the water-break, with Eoin O’Farrell’s frees answering those of O’Leary, they were unable to draw level at any stage during the opening period.
Two more from O’Leary did have Valley’s 0-9 to 0-6 clear by 24 – and Blackrock needed a good David O’Shea save to deny Jack Walsh a goal – but O’Farrell and sub Ger Regan kept the city side in it.
While Valleys were never fully safe at any stage in the second half they did enough to stay in front and ensure that their status was preserved.
Scorers for Valley Rovers: C O’Leary 0-15 (0-12 f), J Walsh 0-2, C Kilduff, S O’Regan, K Canty 0-1 each.
Blackrock: E O’Farrell 0-6 (0-4 f, 0-1 65), D Cashman 1-0, O Kelleher 0-2, R Coleman, A O’Callaghan, C O’Brien, C O’Leary, L O’Sullivan, G Regan 0-1 each.
VALLEY ROVERS: D Looney; T O’Brien, M O’Leary, E Delaney; C Kilduff, W Hurley, N O’Donovan; J Walsh, J Lynch; S O’Regan, K Canty, A Kenneally; E O’Reilly, C O’Leary, R O’Sullivan.
Subs: A Kenneally for O’Sullivan (37), C Butler for O’Reilly (40), C O’Sullivan for Desmond (46).
BLACKROCK: D O’Shea; A Hayes, A Hogan, D O’Brien; R Coleman, A O’Callaghan, E Smith; C O’Brien, C McCarthy; O Kelleher, I O’Keeffe, C O’Leary; E O’Farrell, P Lenighan, L O’Sullivan.
Subs: G Regan for O’Sullivan (20, injured), D Cashman for Lenighan, M O’Farrell for O’Leary (both 48).
Referee: I McCarthy (Bandon).