Ultimate underdogs Carrigtwohill continue to defy expectations in the senior hurling championship

Ultimate underdogs Carrigtwohill continue to defy expectations in the senior hurling championship

Cailean Macan and Gavin Morrissey, Ballyhea, close in on Paul Barden, Carrigtwohill, at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday in the SHC quarter-final. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Carrigtwohill 3-17 Ballyhea 2-16

FROM the depths of despair on an April Saturday in Riverstown, when they were ripped asunder by St Finbarr’s, to the heights of a SHC semi-final in the first week in October.

That is the quite remarkable story of Carrigtwohill after they took care of the challenge of Ballyhea in yesterday’s quarter-final in Páirc Uí Rinn.

And full credit them because a lesser bunch of players would have folded up the tent after that 23-point loss to the Barrs.

They will continue to carry the underdog tag going into the semi-final against the Glen or Newtownshandrum, but that will suit them just fine and they are now in the last four on merit.

They had plenty of players yesterday who made very important contributions to the victory and none more so than super-sub James Mulcahy who fired home three second-half goals.

He was named on the starting 15, but was replaced by Eoin O’Mahony before the throw-in, but came in to replace his replacement after 22 minutes and, as they say, the rest is history.

Sean Rohan, wearing the number 14 jersey, delivered some excellent points as well and in the final minutes he was back in his own defence clearing the ball.

Liam Gosnell fired over some big points too, as did Jay Horgan in midfield, while in defence it was a case all six playing their part at different times with Ronan Power and Padraig Hogan always willing operators.

Ballyhea had their main man Pa O’Callaghan lining out at full-forward and while he secured an early goal, it was clearly obvious he was hampered severely by a hand injury and, subsequently, a leg injury.

Maurice O’Sullivan posted the bulk of their scores with Eugene O’Leary also featuring prominently on the scoresheet, but when it mattered most in the second-half, it was the East Cork team who pushed on with young Mulcahy’s goals proving decisive.

It was 1-9 to 0-11 to Ballyhea at the break with Carrig recovering well after O’Callaghan’s goal.

O’Sullivan converted a half dozen points for Ballyhea in that half with Gosnell and Rohan doing the bulk of the Carrig scoring.

Ballyhea were in for a second goal five minutes after the resumption when Gavin Morrissey found the net but thereafter it was a case of the old Carrigtwohill spirit coming to the forefront again.

Mulcahy’s first goal arrived after Gosnell’s shot was stopped and he was in for a second not long afterwards after being set up by Rohan.

And it got a lot better in the 50th minute when Seamus Roche was the provider for Mulcahy’s hat-trick.

At that juncture it was 3-15 to 2-12 and Ballyhea had a significant hill to climb.

Horgan and Gosnell embellished Carrigtwohill’s advantage and the gap between the teams was now out to eight points.

But Ballyhea, to their great credit, did not fold and four points on the trot from O’Leary, a brace from O’Sullivan, and another from O’Leary had the margin down to four points.

Six minutes of time added on went up on the board and Ballyhea tried everything to manufacture a goal that would have made things very uncomfortable for Carrigtwohill.

But these Carrig players are made of sterner stuff now and they held their nerve to record a great victory.

Going forward, write them off at your peril, even if the odds are still stacked against them.

But for now they can have a close look next weekend at their semi-final opponents, the Glen or Newtownshandrum.

Scorers for Carrigtwohill: J Mulcahy (3-0), L Gosnell (0-7, 0-4 frees), S Rohan (0-5), J Horgan (0-2), B Twomey, T Hogan and J McCarthy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Ballyhea: M O’Sullivan (0-9, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65), G Morrissey and P O’Callaghan (1-0 each), E O’Leary (0-5), T Hanley (0-2).

CARRIGTWOHILL: S Devlin; P O’Sullivan, R Power, P Barden; C O’Connell, P Hogan, A Walsh Barry; J Horgan, T Hogan; S Roche (c), E O’Mahony, J McCarthy; L Gosnell, S Rohan, B Twomey.

Sub: J Mulcahy for E O’Mahony (22).

BALLYHEA: M Browne; A Barrett, M Morrissey, J Copps; L O’Connor, B Coleman (c), L Hanley; J Morrissey, C Cox; T Hanley, M O’Sullivan, K Copps; G Morrissey, P O’Callaghan, E O’Leary.

Sub: L Crowley for J Copps (51 inj).

Referee: Simon Stokes (Tullylease).

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