THEY might be local rivals, and there was plenty of spice to Saturday’s PIHC collision, but Fr O’Neill’s appreciate how much Cloyne achieved.
At rain-soaked Castlemartyr, O’Neill’s were 1-15 to 1-12 victors over a club that reached three consecutive senior deciders in the noughties and remain a serious outfit in the premier tier. It was the Ballymacoda unit’s first win over Cloyne in championship explained joint-manager Dave Colbert.
“This is the first time in our history that we’ve beaten Cloyne. In ’87 we got a hammering in an East Cork final so this was crucial.
“If we can even get close to where Cloyne were we’d be doing so well. You’d have so much respect for what Cloyne, as a club, and their players have achieved.
They showed it again.”
That they did, coming from seven down to within a point, until two late scores from sub Cillian Broderick sealed it for O’Neill’s, who are under the guidance of Colbert and Bryan Sweeney this year, with Rob Murphy a selector and Ballysaggart native Pat Bennett – father of Waterford trio Shane, Stephen and Kieran – as coach.
“Cloyne got a run on us, which were expecting given the team they are, and we just about withstood it. Cillian Broderick got some crucial scores.
“It proves it’s a squad effort.
“Two lads came in and made an impact and another few more were close enough to being brought in as well. That’s all part of the modern game."
O’Neill’s underage set up is thriving these days, with Ger Millerick and Deccie Dalton on the Cork U21 panel, while Billy Dunne was a standout minor for the county until a series of injury setbacks.
“We’ve about three underage sides together and most of the lads would be under the age of 25. We’re blessed because the likes of Mark O’Keeffe and Eoin Conway and a few others have played underage with Cork.
“The whole group though puts so much in. The club have put tremendous work in over a number of years and it’s all coming together now but this was just one win at the same time. We’ll have a very tough quarter-final against Mallow or Kilworth.”
Though a number of the panel are involved with Imokilly, with the inter-county season over, the focus now is club duty.
“The lads have been very busy. If you take Ger, he’s had Cork minor, then the Harty with Midleton CBS and the Cork U21s, and he got Man of the Match for Imokilly in last year’s county final too.”
Next up it’s Mallow or Kilworth in the quarter-final.