MIDLETON returned to the semi-finals of the PSHC for the first time since 2018 after they edged their divisional rivals from Imokilly, Erin's Own, after a thrilling encounter in Pairc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday.
Their coach, Ben O’Connor, is well used to the later stages of the Little All-Ireland and afterwards he was content with his side. They finished the group stages with a defeat to Sarsfields and O’Connor was happy with the reaction he got from his players.
“I suppose in the Sars game we were very disappointed with the way we performed. For the first 20 minutes, we thought that we did ok and after that we were just blown out of the water by Sars.
“We had the chance to get a couple of good weeks training under our belts, and we did that. Here tonight then it was a right battle. We’ve all seen Erin’s Own this year. There were 10 points down against the Barr’s; they brought it back and drew.
“They were three or four down against Charleville and they came back to win that, they beat the Rockies the first day, so we knew that it was going to be tough. So, we’re delighted to get out of here tonight with a four-point win because it showed the bit of bottle that our guys have.”
In a tight encounter, their bottle was there to be seen late in injury time. Crucially, the Magpies outscored their rivals by 0-3 to 0-1 in those few minutes, with one Conor Lehane score from play of particular significance while Tommy O’Connell stitched things together at the back.
“Conor’s point was a huge score, but we’d better not forget as well like that Erin’s Own played with 14 men for a lot of the second half. That took a bit of the pressure off us, maybe, because we had the extra numbers back in the back line and they were able to pick up the breaks and things.
They’re in the last four and are operating just a little under the radar, something that suits their coach.
“We’re not getting carried away with ourselves. I suppose out of all of the teams that will make the semi-finals, we’ll be the underdogs and look, we’ll be using that in our favour hopefully.
"We’re just delighted to get over the line, whether it’s one point or five or six points, once we’re in the semi-final we don’t care and we’ve two more weeks of training to look forward to.”