Blackrock 2-23 Imokilly 1-26 (Blackrock win 3-0 penalties)
BLACKROCK claimed victory in the Co-Op Superstores Cork Premier SHC quarter-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday in the most dramatic of fashions following a nail-biting penalty shoot-out, which they won three to nil.
Alan Connolly, Michael O’Halloran and Tadhg Deasy scored from the penalty spot while William Leahy, Seamus Harnedy and Josh Beausang shots were saved by heroic Blackrock goalkeeper Gavin Connolly.
After a thriller from end to end, Blackrock will meet Erin’s Own in the last four.
It was 1-17 apiece at the end of regulation - a late Robbie Cotter goal forcing extra-time.
A single point separated the sides after the first period of extra-time, Imokilly leading 1-21 to 1-20.
Denis Ring’s outfit appeared to have done enough to seal the victory, that is until Shane O’Keeffe pounced for a crucial goal six minutes into the second period of extra-time.
It was left to William Leahy to fire the equaliser from a ’65 in the third minute of stoppage.
Blackrock settled into this knock-out contest much quicker than their east Cork opponents, and they were four points to one in front through points from Daniel Meaney, Tadhg Deasy, Mark O’Keeffe and Robbie Cotter after eight minutes.
They were grateful too to a superb intervention by Blackrock corner-back Stephen Murphy on Mike Kelly.
It wasn’t long though before Imokilly found their shooting boots and by the 18th minute, they had gained parity. John Cronin started the ball rolling when he set up Barry Lawton. And there were points from William Leahy and Diarmuid Healy.
Once more, Blackrock’s Stephen Murphy came to his team’s rescue, and Leahy rifled over the resultant ’65 to restore a narrow advantage for Imokilly after 20 minutes, 0-5 to 0-4.
A strong run from Tadhg Deasy could have ended with a green flag but his shot went across the face of the goal and wide.
Nonetheless, they started to make an influence with a brace from Alan Connolly and Deasy.
The nip-and-tuck nature continued as the sides were level on three occasions in the second quarter.
Approaching the half-way mark, Kelly had a good chance of a goal from Imokilly but he was fouled bearing down on goal, Leahy tapped over the close-in free for Imokilly to take a slender one-point lead at the interval, 0-8 to 0-7 - and this despite shooting 10 wides to Blackrock’s five.
The sides swapped points after the break before Imokilly asserted themselves. Seamus Harnedy made no mistake in finding the net following good work by Kelly. Leahy put his side further ahead with just five minutes of the second half played, 1-10 to 0-8.
And by the 40th minute, the Rockies had joined their opponents on 10 wides.
At the three-quarter mark, the divisional outfit were four points to the good, 1-12 to 0-11.
The fourth quarter was absolutely frenetic.
Blackrock substitute Kevin O’Keeffe scored two valuable points, but try as they might, the titleholders from two years ago, couldn’t reduce the margin anymore than three points.
A dangerous lead as we well know.
Cotter then scored a goal to make it honours even. And not for the first time in this championship, this was another great comeback from the Louis Mulqueen-managed side.
With over half of the Imokilly starting team involved in club games over the weekend, the question was how would they fare in extra-time?
They played themselves to a standstill. But you have to hand it to Blackrock who were superior when it came to taking penalties.
R Cotter 1-5, S O’Keeffe 1-1, A Connolly 0-4 (0-3 f), T Deasy, M O’Halloran, K O’Keeffe 0-3 each, D Meaney, M O’Keeffe, N Cashman, A O’Callaghan 0-1 each.
W Leahy 0-11 (0-6 f, 0-2 65), S Harnedy 1-2, M Kelly 0-4, Barry Lawton, S Desmond 0-3 each, J Leahy, D Healy, J Stack 0-1 each.
G Connolly; S Murphy, J Cashman (c), C O’Brien; Cathal Cormack, A O’Callaghan, D Meaney; Ciarán Cormack, N Cashman; M O’Keeffe, S O’Keeffe, M O’Halloran; T Deasy, A Connolly, R Cotter.
K O’Keeffe for S O’Keeffe (48), J O’Sullivan for Ciarán Cormack (55), G Norberg for C O’Brien (ET+9 inj), S O’Keeffe for J O’Sullivan (60+10 inj), D Cormack for M O’Keeffe (60+20).
E Davis (St Catherine’s); C O’Brien (St Ita’s, J-Capt), M Russell (Aghada), S Hegarty (Dungourney); K O’Neill (Watergrasshill), C Joyce (Castlemartyr), J Cronin (Lisgoold); J Leahy (Dungourney), Brian Lawton (Castlemartyr, J-Capt); Barry Lawton (Castlemartyr), S Harnedy (St Ita’s), D Healy (Lisgoold); S Desmond (Watergrasshill), W Leahy (Aghada), M Kelly (Castlemartyr).
J Stack (Castlemartyr) for D Healy (51), M McCarthy (Aghada) for Barry Lawton (55 inj), L O’Shea (Lisgoold) for J Leahy (62), J Beausang (Russell Rovers) for M Kelly (60+20).
Simon Stokes (Tullylease).