Fr O’Neill’s 5-14 Fermoy 2-13
THE message was loud and clear from Fr O’Neill’s, they are firmly focused on their task of trying to reign supreme in the PIHC.
Yesterday’s third-round encounter at Ballynoe was billed as a collision of two of the more fancied sides in the competition and for a while it looked like this one was going to go the full distance before a winner was declared.
There was just a point dividing the sides at the break, Fermoy ahead on a scoreline of 1-9 to 2-5 and a cracking second half looked to be on the cards.
But it was not to be, as Fr O’Neill’s raised their game to significant heights and 10 minutes later they had the game firmly in their grasp as they belted in a hat-trick of goals to effectively kill off the Fermoy challenge.
This was a powerful statement of intent by the east Cork team and an illustration of why they are fancied in many quarters to go all the way.
A return of 5-14 was hugely impressive with Deccie Dalton, Billy Dunne, Mark O’Keeffe and two-goal Padraig McMahon doing the bulk of the damage.
Dalton was quite subdued in the opening half, but he cut loose thereafter to inflict a lot of misery on the Fermoy defence.
He drilled home a sumptuous goal and one of his pointed frees was from at least 110 yards out.
Their attack is one of their great strengths but all over the pitch, they are a well-balanced unit. Dan Harrington leads by example in defence, Ger Millerick’s credentials are well documented and plenty of cover is provided for Colin Sloane.
Fermoy shot far too many wides in this game, particularly in the opening half and those misses certainly did not help their cause.
The sides were level a few times in the opening half with McMahon finishing off a fine move to fire home O’Neill’s first goal after 10 minutes.
But Fermoy responded superbly with an unanswered return of 1-3 to lead by 1-6 to 1-3 after 25 minutes.
Tomás Clancy secured their goal and good points from Kieran Morrisson, Jack Hutchings, and Brian O’Sullivan had them motoring well.
However, McMahon got in for O’Neill’s second goal a few minutes later, but Fermoy again responded with points from Shane Aherne, Liam Coleman, and Clancy. But when they came back out it was O’Neill’s who really turned the screw. Dalton landed a monster of a point followed by another before Dunne crashed home their third goal.
Shortly afterwards they were in for a fourth when Dalton delightfully executed.
The east Cork team were in devastating form now and things got a whole lot better when O’Keeffe sublimely finished a wonderful solo effort.
Fermoy had been hit where it really hurt and as the contest aged they missed from a penalty that was struck wide by O’Sullivan.
They subsequently lost Darragh O’Carroll to a second yellow card, but they got a goal back as we approached the 60-minute mark, Hutchings providing the finish.
But all it did was add a bit of gloss to their final tally and their season was at an end.
At the interval very few would have envisaged the difference there was at the end, but when O’Neill’s moved up the gears there was just no stopping them.
Next up for them is Watergrasshill in the quarter-final and they’ll go into that derby encounter with plenty of momentum behind them.
Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: D Dalton 1-7 (0-5 f, 0-1 65), P McMahon 2-0, B Dunne 1-3, M O’Keeffe 1-1, R Cullinane, J Hankard and K O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Fermoy: T Clancy and J Hutchings 1-1 each, B O’Sullivan (0-1 f) and B O’Sullivan (0-1 f) 0-3 each, S Aherne 0-2, K Morrison, J Scannell and P de Róiste 0-1 each.
FR O’NEILL’S: C Sloane, M Millerick, A Kenneally, J Barry, T Millerick, D Harrington, G Millerick, J Millerick, K O’Sullivan, M O’Keeffe, D Dalton, R Cullinane, L O’Driscoll, P McMahon, B Dunne.
Subs: J Hankard for O’Driscoll (16, inj), A Kenneally for J Millerick (47), P Butler for T Millerick (52).
FERMOY: C Quinn, P Clancy, R O’Callaghan, E Clancy, J Scannell, D O’Carroll, A Creed, M Brennan, T Clancy, B O’Sullivan, S Aherne, J Hutchings, K Morrisson, P de Róiste, L Coleman.
Subs: S Shanahan for P Clancy (40 mins), P Murphy for Scannell (45 mins), J Daly for E Clancy (47 mins), J Molloy for Morrison (51 mins), P Shanahan for Coleman (55 mins).
Referee: Ian McCarthy (Bandon).