Bride Rovers 1-25 Ballyhea 0-12
AS statements of intent to go Bride Rovers delivered big time with this unexpected 16-point victory over 14-man Ballyhea in the Co-Op Superstores county senior A hurling at Castletownroche on Sunday.
They dominated from start to finish and impressed in their use of the ball, working it through the lines to create space and time for a widespread of players to keep the scoreboard ticking along.
Defensively, the Rathcormac club were sound with Brian Roche a steadying influence at centre-back, but all six players contributed to deny their opponents any chance of much-needed goals.
But, it was their ability to translate well-worked opportunities into scores that stood out while the accuracy from placed balls of Conor Barry contributed 0-11 to the fine total.
Ballyhea were struggling even before they were reduced in numbers following the dismissal of midfielder Jamie Copps, who clashed with wing-back Jamie O'Flynn off-camera and duly saw red in the 20th minute.
They didn't start Pa O'Callaghan and waited until the 50th minute to introduce their main scoring threat when the game was already done and dusted with Bride coasting at double scores, 0-20 to 0-10.
Bride dominated from the start and established a winning position from early on with Ballyhea's cause clearly not helped by having to play with only 14 men for over 40 minutes.
They led by 0-9 to 0-3 at the first water break and were full value for their advantage with some eye-catching long-range points, notably from right half-back O'Flynn, who struck a couple of beauties.
Barry was also instrumental in compiling the big lead, accurate from frees and play and it was his 14th effort, which began an important set of three without response as Michael Collins and Daniel Dooley also hit the target.
Ballyhea trailed by seven when Cripps saw red and Bride added on three more points as Jason Mannix, Kevin Kearney and Brian Roche stretched the lead to 0-13 to 0-3 after 26 minutes.
Ballyhea relied heavily on the free-taking of John Morrissey for their scores as the sides turned around with Bride eight clear, 0-15 to 0-7.
Bride keeper Cian Hogan was called into action just once during injury-time when Ballyhea centre-back Tom Hanley drove forward only to be thwarted by Hogan at the expense of a '65, converted by Morrissey.
A couple of early Ballyhea points on the resumption reduced the margin before Bride lost Kearney through injury with Ballyhea's Jack Morrissey fortunate to escape with only a yellow card.
Three more points consolidated Bride's position with Dooley hitting over a superb score from way out on the right as the winners led by eight at the second water break, 0-18 to 0-10.
Morrissey's attempt for a goal from a free just before the interlude reflected his side's need for a boost, but the Bride defence blocked the shot and cleared to safety.
The game was petering out to its inevitable conclusion when Bride's impressive link-up play opened up the Ballyhea rearguard for O'Connor to slam home the only goal, a minute from the end of regulation time.
It crowned a near-perfect afternoon for the East Cork club in their pursuit of a top-two finish in the group.