Midleton 1-20 Ballymartle 2-11
A MAGNIFICENT 1-13 tally from Cork hurling star Conor Lehane helped Midleton book a place to round three of the Cork SHC following a hard-earned win over Ballymartle at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.
The east Cork side were tested for long periods but the class and accuracy of Lehane proved the difference between two committed sides.
Midleton went into the game minus six players from their squad due to holiday commitments and Ballymartle edged into the lead in the second minute courtesy of an Eoin Healy point from a placed ball.
Credit to the east Cork side they kept plugging away and tied the game in the sixth minute but they were fortunate two minutes later to escape getting punished with a green flag.
Dan Dwyer was left with a clear passage on goal but amazingly he drove his attempt over the bar.
The cross wind was taking its toll on Ballymartle and three consecutive Midleton points gave them a 0-4 to 0-2 lead.
Then against the run of play a superb Ballymartle move saw Jack Dwyer place a perfect assist to Brian Corry whose sublime shot from an acute angle found the back of the net.
As the half matured, it was clear Cork Lehane was beginning to show his class and when he struck over his sixth point with four minutes remaining to the interval Midleton increased their lead to four points.
Ballymartle, to their credit, looked dangerous going forward but they were struggling to gain vital possession at centre field.
Garran Hanley finished the half in style for Midleton with a magnificent point but Ballymartle despite trailing 0-11 to 1-4 were still very much in the game at the break.
Lehane only took a minute to drill over another point but in the 42nd minute the Cork star put this game to bed with a stunning goal.
Ballymartle, to their credit, battled back and when Rikard Cahalane drilled in a classy goal with 18 minutes remaining the deficit was reduced to the minimum.
Midleton showed their class coming down the stretch and although a few players from both teams were relieved to escape red cards following a mass brawl in the closing minutes commonsense prevailed in what was a sporting game over the hour.
Scorers for Midleton: C Lehane 1-13 (0-9 f), G Hanley 0-2, S O’Sullivan, L O’Farrell, T O’Connell, A Ryan, P White (0-1 each).
Ballymartle: E Healy 0-7 (0-4 f), B Corry 1-2, R Cahalane 1-0, D Dwyer, J Dwyer 0-1 each.
MIDLETON: J Loftus: A Daly, L Dineen, S Smyth; S O’Sullivan, S O’Leary-Hayes, J Nagle; T O’Connell, E Walsh; L O’Farrell, J Hegarty, A Ryan; I Kinnefick, C Lehane, G Manley.
Sub: P White for I Kinnifick (38).
BALLYMARTLE: P Allen; D Edmonds, C Coleman, E O’Leary; S O’Mahony, J Ryan, G Webb; L Corry, S Corry; J Dwyer, R Cahalane, E Healy; D Dwyer, B Corry, S Cummins.
Subs: K McCarthy for S Cummins (h-t), D O’Leary for J Dwyer (51).
Referee: Mark Maher (St Finbarr’s).