Bride Rovers' youth investment is starting to pay dividends

The Rathcormac club handed three debuts to recent minors in their big win over Carrigtwohill in SAHC
Bride Rovers' youth investment is starting to pay dividends

Bride Rovers' Kieran Kearney gets his pass away as Carrigtwohill's Cian O'Riordan closes in, during their Cork Senior A HC clash at Midleton. Picture: David Keane.

WHO had the most impressive victory in the opening round of the CO-OP Superstores county SAHC at the weekend?

Was it Fr O’Neill’s tally of 3-23 against Mark Coleman’s Blarney, Bride Rovers putting 5-24 on Carrigtwohill or Newcestown’s 1-24 against Mallow?

You could make a strong case for the three, who happen to be bookies’ fancies in that order to succeed Kanturk as champions and earn promotion to the top tier.

O’Neill’s and Bride played in perfect conditions and produced performances to match the weather while Newcestown had to slog it out in wind and rain before coming out the right side by two points.

The Rathcormac club seem to have bucked a trend in actually being in a stronger position than last season, when losing to O’Neill’s by four points in the semi-final.

“The average age of the team has probably gone down to around 22 and that’s due to the influx of minors into the panel,” said selector Liam Barry.

“Three of them, Ronan O’Connell at centre-forward, Adam Walsh at right half-forward and Cillian Tobin inside made their debuts.

“Nine players have joined the panel this year and they have brought a new intensity to training as well as competition for places throughout the team.” 

The introduction of the likes of Daniel Dooley and Michael Collins during the second-half of the 5-24 to 0-20 success highlighted the strength-in-depth.

“Daniel and Michael would make any other team in the competition and it’s great to have that experience to bring into a game.

“In addition, we also brought in Josh Aherne, who is only 18, and we have a strong panel, though we’re not getting ahead of ourselves either.

“We’re missing our captain from last year, Ryan Prendergast, who’s travelled to Canada, while our centre-forward Jason Mannix transferred to Cloughduv.

“He scored four points for them the other night and we wish Jason well.” 

 Bride Rovers' Paddy O'Flynn keeps possession under pressure from Carrigtwohill's Padraic Hogan. Picture: David Keane.
Bride Rovers' Paddy O'Flynn keeps possession under pressure from Carrigtwohill's Padraic Hogan. Picture: David Keane.

Bride set about their task from the start, Walsh pointing within seconds before they stung Carrig with two goals inside five minutes.

Brian Roche set-up Tobin for the first before he returned the complement for the former under-age star to add the second.

It was 2-8 to 0-3 after 11 minutes and all six Bride forwards had registered scores, such was their dominance, but Carrig eventually settled to trail by seven at the break, 2-12 to 0-11, thanks to Cork U20 Sean Walsh in the main.

But, a third goal from Adam Walsh after 41 minutes, following brilliant stick-work by Roche, killed the game as a contest at 3-20 to 0-15, before Bride added two more goals from Tobin and Roche to finish with 2-3 apiece.

“It was a fantastic win and great to get it in the first game in the group as it takes the pressure off a bit,” Barry added.

“I didn’t expect the winning margin to be what it was, but we got a dream start and the two goals were a blow for Carrigtwohill, though we knew they’d fight back.

“They scored some brilliant points to get back into it, but the goals were obviously important.

“We’re lucky to have Brian and Cillian in our ranks and they are tremendous for us.

We took the goals well and had a wide spread of scorers which was fantastic as well.

“It’s still only our first day out and there is a lot of hurling to be done.

“Ballyhea had an impressive win and we play them at the weekend, having also played them last year, but I don’t think that will matter.” 

Like so many others, Bride are balancing football, too, trying to make a successful defence of their Imokilly junior title.

“We have a quarter-final on the 14th which is why a win would be important at the weekend because it would allow us to put some work into the football.

“Thirteen of the team played in our last championship match against Glenbower Rovers, so there is a huge crossover,” Barry concluded.

Bride were much too good for Ballyhea last season, winning by 1-25 to 0-12, but the Avondhu club’s 1-22 to 0-12 win over Ballymartle suggests it’s likely to be a lot closer in Kildorrery.

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