Kilmallock 0-19 Midleton 1-9
A good year for Midleton ended on a disappointing note as they were beaten by Kilmallock in Sunday’s AIB Munster Club SHC semi-final at the TUS Gaelic Grounds.
Cork’s recent record in the provincial championship has been poor, with no victory since Newtownshandrum in 2009, and Kilmallock always looked likelier winners here. A run of nine consecutive points in the first half left them firmly in control and Midleton’s goal, scored by Tommy O’Connell, came too late to inspire any significant doubts.
Injury ruled out Ross O’Regan, who had impressed with four points in the county final, and Midleton fell two points behind inside the opening minute as Paudie O’Brien and Micheál Houlihan were on target for Kilmallock.
While there were a couple of early wides for the Magpies, they looked to have settled as Conor Lehane landed a free before Garan Manley – O’Regan’s replacement – did well to set up Seán O’Meara for a levelling score. In between those points, Cormac Beausang had almost created a goal chance for Lehane but the pass was just overcooked.
Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t build on those encouraging forays and endured 18 scoreless minutes as Kilmallock established a firm grip on the game. Houlihan, son of former Limerick star Mike, was the shining light in the half-forward line for Tony Considine’s side but they were on top in all sectors, with centre-back Ciarán O’Connor hoovering up a lot of possession.
However, he was helped by some aimless Midleton deliveries while the Magpies also wasted good scoring opportunities that would have punctured the momentum of the men in green.
While Kilmallock had beaten Patrickswell in the Limerick county final at the end of October, there were no signs of rustiness from them. Houlihan was a threat from open play and placed balls and, after taking a 0-6 to 0-2 lead into the first water break, they set about pushing on in the second quarter.
Five unanswered points put them into a very comfortable position, three Houlihan frees allied to an Oisín O’Reilly point after their full-forward, former Limerick player Gavin O’Mahony, had forced a turnover, and one for hard-working midfielder Robbie Hanley.
Midleton’s drought did finally end in the 26th minute and it gave the briefest of glimpses of the potential joy to be hand from good ball to the forwards as Pa White found Beausang and he turned Mark O’Loughlin before firing over.
Graeme Mulcahy replied immediately for Kilmallock though and they retired with a 0-12 to 0-3 half-time advantage, seven of the points having come from Houlihan.
On the resumption, Midleton had a glimmer of hope when the breaking ball from the throw-in fell to Lehane. His ball goalwards dropped in the small rectangle and Manley almost diverted it to the net. Kilmallock cleared and Houlihan added his eighth and ninth points in quick succession for a 0-14 to 0-3 lead.
A superb Lehane point, set up by Luke O’Farrell and Eoin Moloney, did usher in a period of supremacy as they outscored Kilmallock by 0-3 to 0-1 for the remainder of the third quarter. That left it 0-15 to 0-7 as the water break approached but Lehane’s wide from a free just before the intermission was compounded as Kevin O’Donnell pointed for Kilmallock on the resumption. Goalkeeper Barry Hennessy ended whatever slight hopes there were of a turnaround as his free from inside his own 45 made it 0-17 to 0-7 before Houlihan got his 11th of the day.
Tommy O’Connell did score a 59th-minute goal for Midleton, sub Aaron Mulcahy with the assisting pass, but the deficit by that stage was too large to erode.
M Houlihan 0-11 (0-7 f), O O’Reilly 0-2, B Hennessy (f), P O’Brien, R Hanley, G Mulcahy, K O’Donnell, C Stanton 0-1 each.
C Lehane 0-6 (0-3 f), T O’Connell 1-0, C Beausang, S Meara, P O’Keeffe 0-1 each.
B Hennessy; L English, M O’Loughlin, D Joy; P O’Brien, C O’Connor, Philip O’Loughlin; R Hanley, A Costello; M Houlihan, O O’Reilly, D Woulfe; G Mulcahy, G O’Mahony, K O’Donnell.
Paddy O’Loughlin for Costello (55), C Hanley for Woulfe (58), R Egan for O’Donnell, C Stanton for O’Brien, B Daly for English (all 60).
B Saunderson; E Moloney, L Dineen, S Smyth; S O’Leary Hayes, T O’Connell, C Walsh; P Haughney, S Quirke; P White, C Lehane, S O’Meara; G Manley, C Beausang, L O’Farrell.
S O’Farrell for Smyth (19-20), S O’Farrell for Haughney (37), A Quirke for Manley, A Mulcahy for White (both 43), P O’Keeffe for O’Meara (49).
M Kennedy (Tipperary).