Watergrasshill 1-22 Ballincollig 1-18
TRAILING by two points just after the second-half water break and a man down after losing Pa Cronin to a second yellow card, Watergrasshill looked in big trouble in this PIHC opening round tie at Blarney.
Yet the Hill distributed the ball superbly across the fourth quarter, belying the fact they had only 14 players on the pitch, while their work-rate was incredible. They lanced over four successive points, including one from a Shane Óg O'Regan turnover on a puck-out and put themselves back in front.
While Paul Cooney forced Darragh O'Callaghan into a flying save, which resulted in a Seán Walsh point to make it 1-19 to 1-18, Watergrasshill drove on again. Aaron Ricken, Gary O'Kelly Lynch and Brian Fenton held firm at the back and Anthony Cronin was everywhere.
Kevin O'Neill and Daire O'Leary had been crucial to their side coming down from an initial 0-4 to no score deficit when Fenton Denny nailed three from play on the bounce. Along with Padraig O'Leary, the East Cork outfit got 0-8 from play from their half-forward unit.
Seán Desmond was a real handful up top, and finished with 1-3 from play, which was vital when Liam Jennings was hounding Cork U20 O'Regan relentlessly. Ballincollig lost Jennings to an injury, which obviously didn't help their cause, but they simply couldn't make the extra hurler count for the last 20 minutes.
When the other Shane O'Regan curled over a gem to make it 1-22 to 1-18 deep into injury even a goal wouldn't do them.
Cian Dorgan was the Collig's top-scorer and took his goal brilliantly after great work by Denny and Dave Bowen, while Robbie Bourke had two points from play and four assists. Mark Prendergast and Conor O'Leary showed well at times and Ross O'Donovan made a couple of goal-saving interventions.
Still, they just didn't replicate the Hill's intensity or clever passing into space.
The Hill next meet Ballinhassig, who beat Valley Rovers on Sunday.
Scorers for Watergrasshill: S O'Regan 0-7 (0-6 f), S S Desmond 1-3, D O'Leary 0-4, P O'Leary, K O'Neill, S Óg O'Regan 0-2 each, P Cronin, A Cronin 0-1 each.
Ballincollig: C Dorgan 1-8 (0-4 f), S Walsh, F Denny 0-3 each, R Bourke, C O'Leary 0-2 each.
WATERGRASSHILL: D O'Callaghan; P Cronin, A Ricken, C Cronin; S Field, G O'Kelly Lynch, B Fenton; A Cronin, P O'Regan; P O'Leary, K O'Neill, D O'Leary; S O'Regan, S Óg O'Regan, S Desmond.
Sub: D Dennehy for C Cronin (44).
BALLINCOLLIG: J Linehan; R O'Donovan, L Jennings, S Murphy; G O'Donoghue, B Coleman, M Prendergast; JP Murphy, R Bourke; D Moore, D Bowen, C O'Leary; S Walsh, C Dorgan, F Denny.
Subs: R O'Doherty for Moore (37), C O'Sullivan for Jennings (41 inj), P Cooney for O'Donoghue (47).
Referee: Cathal Egan (Glen Rovers).