PIHC favourites Castlelyons stay focused after returning to the county final

'We played Courceys in the semi-final last year and just about got over the line, they are a serious team'
PIHC favourites Castlelyons stay focused after returning to the county final

Full-forward Anthony Spillane, Castlelyons, tries to shake off a challenge from Patrick O'Leary, Ballinhassig, in the Co-Op Superstores PIHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Larry Cummins

MANAGER Ciarán McGann revealed his delight after Castlelyons came through their Cork Premier IHC semi-final in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday. 

Last year’s finalists held off Ballinhassig to record a one-point win, 1-17 to 1-16.

“We knew we were going to get a hard battle. Ballinhassig have been back and forth with football, all those games have gone close and they have come through it.

“The third quarter, Ballinhassig were the only team hurling, as simple as that and we were definitely getting worried. The fourth quarter, we showed massive character and some of the big boys stood up again, as did the team.

We are just thrilled with the way we finished. I can’t say it enough, how we finished out the last 10 minutes of the game. And a couple of the lads who came in as subs, we were delighted with them.

“We had two guys out injured today. Barry Murphy and James Kearney, and they would be starters for us all year. They are good guys and we will be hoping they will be back next week and strengthen the squad again.” 

Courcey Rovers stand between Castlelyons and their ultimate goal.

“We played Courceys in the semi-final last year and just about got over the line. I watched Courceys against Valley Rovers last week and Courceys are a serious team.

“Last year’s win counts for nothing. We were lucky that day, Sean Twomey went off after five minutes. We played them again this year in a challenge game in Castlelyons and it was a ding-dong battle. I think they came out on the right side by a point or two.

“We are absolutely delighted to renew the rivalry again. Similar to ourselves, they are a great club who love their hurling.” 

Colm Spillane lined out, having recovered from injury. Another plus was the contribution of goalkeeper Jack Barry.

 Ger Collins, Ballinhassig, in action against Castlelyons. Picture: Larry Cummins
Ger Collins, Ballinhassig, in action against Castlelyons. Picture: Larry Cummins

“This was Colm’s first full championship game this year. He played a few minutes against Watergrasshill in the group but went off with a nasty back injury. When the game was in the melting pot, he had some ferocious plays and came good when he needed to.

“Jack scored the penalty, he has been doing a bit of practice on them. A great shot. That gave us the two or three points up until a nerve-jangling finish. 

He had a tough goalie to beat in young Collins. He got a few frees as well, he is a super striker of the ball. Any free from his own 45, we would be confident he could put them over.

“Similar to the Courceys goalkeeper who scored 1-3 in their semi-final. A bit of competition going on between them.”

Having secured a bye to the semi-final meant a wait for this game.

“Break was tough, no doubt about it. We had a couple of dates for this match but they were all provisional. They were kicked out a week, two weeks. We had a few challenge games - Midleton, Kilbrittain and Kilmallock.

“Sometimes you are delighted to get there, but sometimes it can work against you because you are not playing a quarter-final and you don’t have that battle hardness. We were a bit rusty. But if you had told me we would win by one point, I would absolutely have snapped the hand off of you.”

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