THERE must be something in the water up Newtownshandrum direction following their impressive come-from-behind win over Bishopstown in the Co-Op Stores county premier senior hurling championship in Glantane at the weekend.
They trailed by 1-15 to 0-10 at the second water-break only to return a completely different outfit, shutting out their opponents while rattling off 11 points for a sensational 0-21 to 1-15 triumph.
“I’m thinking a draw at that stage,” said coach Pat Mulcahy afterwards.
“We didn’t hurl at all in a typical first-round game involving a lot of anxiety.
“We’ve a young side while Bishopstown are physical with a lot of pace and didn’t allow us hurl.”
Mulcahy was delighted with the spirit shown by the 15 starters and the important contribution from the four players plucked from the bench.
“We had an 18-year-old, two lads 19, and overall we’ve something like eight or nine players under 23.
“Even though they’re big boys they don’t have the experience and we haven’t won a tight game for a while.
“Last season we lost to the Glen by a point, Midleton by the same margin the year before, so it was great to win a game that was nip and tuck.”
The city side played with the wind from the start and led by 0-12 to 0-9 at half-time with the Murray brothers, Brian and Tomas, and Pa Cronin leading the way.
And when Mark Driscoll netted in the 44th minute, followed by a superb Cronin point, Newtown found themselves eight points adrift.
“We couldn’t open up and we just struggled to get into our rhythm.
“I didn’t think it was gone from us because once you have the breeze and we were also playing into the scoring goal, you have a chance. I still thought we needed a goal, but as it turned out we didn’t.
“We had one or two opportunities in the first half, but they didn’t come off.
“I always felt it would be low-scoring against Bishopstown. It was also going to be tough and physical.
“We expected it, but didn’t manage it very well in the first half.”
Bishopstown full-back Barry Murphy denied Jamie Coughlan with a brave clearance off the line in the opening half.
And the same goal-mouth witnessed further excitement on the resumption when Driscoll almost added two more goals. Just before the second water-break he shot wide and then in the middle of 10 minutes’ injury-time, with the Town a point behind, 0-19 to 1-15, Driscoll had a shot swept off the line by despairing defenders.
One of the key factors in the dramatic turn of events came from Newtown’s substitutes.
“I thought they gave us a bit of pace and made a difference. Dermot McCarthy, who came on early in the second half, scored four points from play.
“He’s married into the parish, marrying Michelle O’Connor, sister of Ben and Jerry. Dermot is a fine hurler, having previously played with Staker Wallace in Limerick.
“He only transferred to us this year so this was Dermot’s first championship game for Newtown.
“He played a few challenge matches with us and isn’t probably up to speed just yet, but he can score. Dermot is a lovely striker of the ball.
“John Twomey came on and did very well while Jerry O’Mahony, who is 34-35 years of age, scored a brilliant point to put us one up. I think the game just opened up at that stage.”
Newtown’s victory was all the more praiseworthy because of Tim O’Mahony’s limited influence on the contest. The Cork player was centre-forward in the first half but was well held by Jamie O’Sullivan, who did a good job on him.
“We were trying to find a place to get him involved, but Tim wasn’t hurling well for us.
“It didn’t work out for him on this occasion, but Tim’s been outstanding for us in games and we’ve two tough matches ahead of us.”
Next up is Blackrock in Mallow on Sunday at 2pm.
“It will be a big step up from this game, but we have a win from our first game which gives us a chance,” said Mulcahy.