Fr O’Neill’s 1-21 Watergrasshil 1-14
A GOAL from a penalty eight minutes into the second half swung this PIHC clash in favour of Fr O’Neill’s as they advance to a semi-final meeting with Blarney.
Even though they looked the better of the two sides, it was close up to that point, but the penalty scored by Declan Dalton put six between the sides and from here there was only going to be one winner.
Dalton was one of several O’Neill’s players who were in top form on the day, with the likes of Eoin Conway, Kevin O’Sullivan, Rob Cullinane, and Dan Harrington also showing their class at Midleton’s pitch.
Add in their Cork U20 player Ger Millerick, who had the job of marking his fellow inter-county star, Shane Óg O’Regan, and credit to Millerick he came out on top in that battle.
You are never going to keep a player of the class of Shane Óg scoreless, but he kept him to just three points, all in the first half.
Whilst one player doesn’t make a team, the fact that Millerick got the better of that battle was a huge plus in favour of his side.
But for Watergrasshill, his namesake Shane O’Regan — the two of them distinguished by the Óg for the Cork star — was one that kept his side in contention for much of the tie.
He was the pick of his side, with the likes of Anthony Cronin and Sean O’Callaghan also in good form.
But on the day they were beaten by a better team and one that have threatened to win this championship over the last few years and have fallen short. On yesterday’s display there is a renewed determination about them this year and they will take a bit of stopping.
O’Regan opened the scoring for the Hill, with Shane Óg adding a second, scoring with a brilliant over the shoulder shot from a tight angle.
Conway got O’Neill’s off the mark, with Shane Óg replying from the re-start, to make it 0-3 to 0-1 with eight minutes gone.
Dalton got his first of the afternoon, from a free, with Cullinane levelling it. O’Regan put the Hill back in front from a free, but two frees from Dalton put his side in front, with Conway adding a point to make it 0-6 to 0-4.
O’Regan hit two from frees, with Dalton replying to see only one between them with 27 minutes played.
Kevin O’Sullivan and Mark O’Keeffe extended their lead, with Shane Óg getting the last score of the half, as O’Neill’s led 0-9 to 0-7 at half-time.
A 65 from O’Regan made it a one-point game, before two frees from Dalton stretched O’Neill’s lead again.
With 38 minutes gone, a brilliant ball from Dunne put Cullinane in, but he was taken down and the referee, Ian McCarthy, had no hesitation in awarding them a penalty. Dalton stepped up, took a deliberate four steps back to place the sliotar, and blasted to the back of the net, giving Darragh O’Callaghan no chance of saving, to make it 1-11 to 0-8.
O’Regan pointed from a free, but two more from Dalton, along with another from Conway, put them 1-14 to 0-9 in front with 42 minutes gone.
O’Callaghan reduced the deficit, with Joe Millerick and Dunne replying to make it 1-16 to 0-10.
With 46 minutes on the clock the Hill were given a lifeline when a long ball in was pulled on by O’Callaghan to find the back of the net, to put only six points between them.
But O’Neill’s responded in style to hit three points in-a-row to peg back the goal. Dunne, Dalton, and McMahon all scored, to make it 1-19 to 1-10 with nine minutes left.
Kevin O’Neill and Dalton exchanged points, before three frees from O’Regan made it 1-14 to 1-20, but by then there were no more than consolation scores.
John Millerick got the last score of the game as his side now face Blarney in two weeks in the semi-final.
Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: D Dalton 1-10 (1-0 pen, 0-7 f), E Conway 0-3, B Dunne 0-2, R Cullinane, K O’Sullivan, M O’Keeffe, J Millerick, P McMahon, J Millerick 0-1 each.
Watergrasshill: S O’Regan 0-9 (0-8 f, 0-1 65), S O’Callaghan 1-1, S Óg O’Regan 0-3, K O’Neill 0-1.
Fr O’NEILL’S: C Sloane; M Millerick, A Kenneally, G Millerick; J Barry, D Harrington, A Kenneally; J Millerick; K O’Sullivan; M O’Keeffe, R Cullinane, P McMahon; E Conway, D Dalton, B Dunne.
Subs: J Hankard for E Conway (44). C Broderick for J Millerick (53), P Butler for A Kenneally (59), J Millerick for P McMahon (60).
WATERGRASSHILL: D O’Callaghan; K O’Keeffe, A Ricken, P Cronin; S Field, G O’Kelly-Lynch; K O’Neill; A Cronin, P O’Regan; Shane O’Regan, S O’Callaghan, J McCarthy; E Barry, P O’Leary, Shane Og O’Regan.
Subs: S Desmond for E Barry (43), D O’Riordan for P O’Regan (43), D O’Farrell for P O’Leary (49), B Fenton for A Ricken (60).
Referee: Ian McCarthy, Bandon.