BLACKROCK manager Fergal Ryan felt his players responded to the do-or-die nature of Sunday’s clash with St Finbarr’s as the reigning Co-op SuperStores Cork PSHC champions progressed to the quarter-finals.
A 3-22 to 0-21 win over the Barrs at Páirc Uí Chaoimh was sufficient for the Rockies to book their place in the knockout stages, where they will face Douglas. Having lost their opener to Erin’s Own, a win over Charleville got Blackrock back on track and Ryan was satisfied that they did what they had to on Sunday.
“It was straightforward,” he said, “we had to win and, if we didn’t, then we were out.
“Whether it gave them a little bit more focus, I’m not too sure. There were a number of factors where you could say the game was big for us – playing local rivals, we had to win, we were county champions coming from last year – so there was a lot of stuff in the back of their heads that, maybe, we had something to prove.
“It just turned out that we got a performance for the most of that game.”
While the first goal Blackrock got – Alan Connolly’s just after half-time to put them five in front – was somewhat fortunate as the attacker blocked down a clearance by goalkeeper Shane Hurley, Ryan was delighted with the effort shown by the Cork panellist.
When Connolly added another soon after and Michael O’Halloran landed a third, they were in a comfortable position, ensuring that they survived even after Tadhg Deasy’s injured-enforced departure left them with 14 men at the end.
“That was the most pleasing one, to be honest!” Ryan laughed.
“It just shows that someone didn’t give up on a ball and that’s what you want from all your team, all over the pitch.
“He went in and chased the keeper, got his hurley up and got a block on it, so that was pleasing – don’t give up.
"We just seemed to keep that gap until Tadhg had to go off when we had all our subs used – they got a few points in a row and we were lucky that we had that cushion built up.”
After the slow start, Blackrock are now looking to maintain and improve their good form.
“In our heads, we wanted to win our first two and make sure that this game didn’t have so much at stake,” Ryan said.
“When there was so much at stake, I think the lads were either going to give a performance or maybe just drop the heads. I never thought that that was going to happen, so thanks be to God that we got the performance out of them.
“We knew that, if we qualified, we’d be playing one of the top teams that came out of their groups.
“The main thing is that we’re there and we give ourselves the opportunity.”