Ballyhea 0-24 Ballymartle 2-18
MIXED emotions at the full-time whistle in Banteer, Ballymartle denied a place in the knockout stages of the Co-Op Superstores Cork County SAHC, Ballyhea's tremendous resilience and character keeping them out of the relegation play-off.
Despite conceding a last-ditch equalising goal to Darren McCarthy, Ballyhea were clearly the more relieved side. Their industry and skill, and a haul of 0-15 from former Cork underage hurler Pa O’Callaghan, ensuring their SAHC survival.
Having suffered a narrow defeat to Bride Rovers in the last outing, Ballymartle didn't have the zip that saw them beat Mallow in the opening game in the group.
To obtain a draw represented a victory of sorts for Ballyhea, achieved thanks to an impressive team performance that featured a number of exceptional individual displays, apart from the dynamic O’Callaghan in attack, Ballyhea owed much to the excellent Tom and Tiernan Hanley in the half-back line.
Jamie Copps Gave a tour de force at midfield and John Morrissey worked effectively at centre forward and chipped with a five-point tally.
Ballyhea made the early running with points delivered by Morrissey, O’Callaghan and Eugene O’Leary. Steadily Ballymartle grew into the game, Brian Corry and Luke O’Callaghan obliging to square up matters at 0-5 apiece.
Much of the second quarter developed into a duel between McCarthy and O’Callaghan with Ballyhea holding command.
However, Ballymartle dug their heels in, hesitancy within the Ballyhea defence capitalised on for substitute Keith Fitzpatrick net to narrow the arrears 0-14 to 1-9 at the interval.
Ballyhea consolidated their position on the resumption with Jack and John Morrissey along with O’Callaghan splitting the uprights.
It remained nip and tuck, the introduction of Seamus Corry as substitute improved Ballymartle as McCarthy and Killian McCarthy found the range.
Still, Ballyhea offered urgency to their game, smashing points posted by Caileann Cox and John Morrissey helped steer their side ahead 0-20 to 1-13.
Ballymartle needed a win here to retain an interest and they came close to goals only for Fitzpatrick and McCarthy fire narrowly wide of the post.
Though Ballymartle did oblige on points to Liam Corry, McCarthy and Jack Dwyer, Ballyhea hit back with two specials from O’Callaghan.
A win looked firmly on the cards for the Avondhu men yet Ballymartle refused to wilt. Deep into injury time, with Ballymartle pressing to salvage a win of any sorts, referee Conor Lane awarded a close in free and McCarthy threaded the sliotar to the Ballyhea net.