Blackrock 2-20 Charleville 0-18
HOLDERS Blackrock bounced back from the disappointment of a first-round defeat to get their show back on the road against Charleville in a rip-roaring Co-Op Superstores Premier SHC at damp Banteer on Saturday.
A week earlier, the Rockies had looked flatfooted on a below-par showing against Erin's Own but on this occasion, they hurled with a far greater passion and purpose during the second half to a highly entertaining encounter.
The champions' position had looked precarious when Charleville had drawn level early in the second half but a pair of rapid goals, impressively finished, from Alan Connolly and Tadhg Deasy changed the direction of the contest.
Ultimately, the Rockies emerged much more efficient in their goal-taking opportunities, a battling Charleville lacked similar conviction when goal chances fell their way in the opening half.
Last season’s SAHC winners were quickly into their stride, Darragh Fitzgibbon winning possession to split the uprights within 10 seconds of the throw-in. However, Blackrock rose to the challenge on points to Robbie Cotter and Connolly.
At times, some of the shooting was poorly directed at either end, the city men shading matters thanks to the accuracy of Connolly, Daniel Meaney and Shane O’Keeffe. Charleville hung in, Fitzzgibbon aided by Gavin Kelleher found the range for their side trail 0-8 to 0-6 at the water break.
On the restart, Charleville’s game grew in confidence, spurred on by the play of Jack Barry, Jack O’Callaghan and the superb Fitzgibbon. Indeed, Charleville might well had goaled only for Blackrock keeper Gavin Connolly deny Darren Casey with Fitzgibbon pointing the resultant 65.
At the opposite end, Blackrock answered with points to Cotter, Connolly and Mark O’Keeffe.
Charleville remained full of vigour, agonisingly, Jack Doyle hit the butt of the upright but points from Andrew Cagney and Kelleher squared up the contest.
Blackrock retrieved the initiative through points from Connolly and Michael O’Halloran and had a narrow 0-13 to 0-12 advantage at the end of a cracking opening half.
Charleville resumed on a positive note, though passing up a sequel of scores, a point to Cagney tied up proceedings. That left Blackrock with a challenge that they took on with commendable determination.
Indeed, the longer the game advanced, Blackrock’s improving play ruffled Charleville’s composure with substitute Ciarán Cormack creating an instant impact following his introduction into attack.
Elsewhere, Blackrock were well served by Cathal Cormack, Niall Cashman, Stephen Murphy and the industrious Daniel Meaney. And up front, new man Cormack, Connolly and Deasy brought their influence to bear.
Substitute Cormack added a physical presence, initially placing Cashman for a sweet point prior to a key involvement in two goals in as many minutes. Twice in quick succession, the Charleville defence was sliced opened, initially on 39 minutes, as Cormack placed Connolly to net.
The pendulum had definitely swung to Blackrock when Cormack and Connolly combined for Deasy to whip home the sliotar.
Though Charleville replied on points to Fitzgibbon and Kelleher, they faced an uphill struggle to trail 2-15 to 0-15 at the second water break.
When the action, Blackrock tightened the screw, points by Cathal Cormack, Connolly and Meaney put clear daylight between the sides. Defender Cormack did pick up a second yellow card yet the game was beyond their opponents' reach.
Still work to do for Blackrock, given results elsewhere, they require a result against St Finbarr’s in the concluding game while Charleville will strive to fight off relegation fears when they face Erin's Own.