For the second week in a row, Fr O’Neills manager Robbie Dalton commended the deep reservoirs of character that his team drew upon to overcome a slow start.
In their opening Co-op SuperStores Cork SAHC Group C clash against Newcestown nine days ago, the Ballymacoda/Ladysbridge side had to produce a late fightback to earn a draw; last Sunday in Youghal, they allowed Killeagh a five-point first-half advantage before triumphing by 1-22 to 1-18.
Dalton admitted that the first-half showing was not to his liking but he couldn’t but compliment the spirit shown as the game was turned around.
“We were poor enough in the first 30 minutes,” he said.
“In fairness to Killeagh, they brought the game to us and we struggled at the start of the game but we showed the character in the second half.
“That’s what this team is all about, the heart and the commitment they showed, and they battled for everything.
“I’m very, very proud of them.”
Without Cork star Ger Millerick and Billy Dunne, there were some mitigating factors for O’Neills, but their third-quarter display turned the game their way and Dalton’s son Declan finished with 1-14.
However, even with the elements to come as they played into the scoring goal at Magner’s Hill, going in at half-time trailing at half-time by 1-11 to 0-11 meant that nothing could be taken for granted.
“We said it at half-time,” Dalton said, “wind and hill don’t matter, no heart is no good.
“They really showed the heart they have in the second half.
“They’re a great bunch of lads and we’ll drive on from here.
“We’d have been disappointed last week, but we’re happy today.”
It’s a group with a strong Imokilly flavour – Cloyne are also in it, with Newcestown providing the only ingredients from anywhere else in the county. Having a plethora of clashes between local rivals adds an extra element to the games.
“Local derbies take on a life of their own,” Dalton said.
“Killeagh came in with a gameplan and we came in with a gameplan. We know that they’re all about and they know what we’re all about.
“We just had to put it all out there and, in fairness, they showed the character in the second half when it mattered.”
The result in Youghal, and Newcestown’s win over Cloyne, mean that things are tight ahead of the final set of games on the weekend of October 9/10. O’Neills and Newcestown both have three points, with Killeagh on two and Cloyne waiting to pick up their first points.
With relegation fears to battle against, they will look to do that against O’Neills and Dalton knows it won’t be easy.
“Near neighbours now again,” he said, “Cloyne in three weeks’ time.
“Billy Dunne has a concussion so we’re hopeful that he’ll be back. Ger Millerick is touch and go, we won’t know until close, and Liam O’Driscoll is out long-term.
“We just need to get the small niggly injuries right now.”