Meelin 3-11 Argideen Rangers 0-14
MEELIN secured their Intermediate A Hurling status following a comfortable six-points over Argideen Rangers in their final round-robin game at Páirc Uí Rinn.
The Duhallow side drew with Glen Rovers last August, so the Blackpool side's clash with Argideen in Brinny next Sunday who is relegated to junior hurling.
In a game of high stakes, Meelin got off to the perfect start when James Forrest made a stunning run in the opening minute before placing a pinpoint assist to Jack Curtin who drilled a low shot to the corner of the net.
Argideen looked off the pace and further points from Brendan O’Sullivan and Forrest gave them a four-point lead with Sean Maxwell getting the Timoleague side up and running in the fifth minute.
Following their early domination, Meelin began losing the physicality stakes as Argideen won key possession, and at the first water break, the lead had been reduced to two points 1-2 to 0-3.
In games of this importance, there is always added pressure and it was evident both teams were edgy and nervous as the standard of hurling in the second quarter dropped considerably.
Argideen lost stalwart John Michael O’Callaghan in the 14th minute but with Meelin still commanding a two-point lead into added time they hit Rangers with a sucker-punch goal. What looked like a tame shot from centrefield ace Jason O’Callaghan deceived keeper Dylan Harrington and dropped agonisely into the empty net.
That ended the half with Meelin commanding a 2-5 to 0-6 interval lead and Argideen were now under serious pressure to get back in the game.
The years have certainly changed for the Timoleague club as they won the Cork Intermediate hurling championship in 2005 when defeating Nemo Rangers. The same could be said for Meelin, crowned All-Ireland Junior champions in 2010 when they beat Kilkenny side John Lockes.
On the restart, Meelin increased the tempo and consecutive points were followed by their third goal.
A neat run by William Murphy saw him unleash a thunderous shot that was parried by goalkeeper Dylan Harrington but John Forrest was on hand to guide the ball to the empty net.
Credit to Argideen they threw the kitchen sink at their opponents in the closing minutes without ever looking likely to get back in the game as manager Bertie Smith summed up their disappointing evening on the Boreenmana Road.
“No excuses we were defeated by a better side and now it's sink or swim against the Glen on Sunday and in a nutshell, it will be 60 minutes of survival hurling.”