St Finbarr's hurlers into first senior county final in 29 years

Ger Cunningham's side were dominant throughout but a first-half red card left Newtown with no way back; next up it's a showdown with Blackrock on October 16
St Finbarr's hurlers into first senior county final in 29 years

Joy for St Finbarr's Shane Hurley and Eoin Keane after defeating Newtownshandrum at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

St Finbarr’s 2-25 Newtownshandrum 0-20 

ST Finbarr’s qualified for the final of the Co-op Superstores Cork PSHC final for the first time in 29 years as had 11 points to spare over Newtownshandrum in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. 

This was the 10th time that the Togher outfit had reached the last four since beating Carbery in the 1993 final, and their reward for bucking the trend of their previous nine appearances is a mouth-watering clash with their great rivals from Blackrock on October 16.

It's 40 years since the southside giants have clashed in the final and on that occasion it was the Barrs who prevailed on their way to winning the double. None of that history mattered much to the new generation of Barrs talent here, as they led from pillar to post in a performance full of composure and class.

St Finbarr's Brian Hayes hammers home his goal past Newtownshandrum's Mattie Ryan during the Co-Op Superstores Premier SHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
St Finbarr's Brian Hayes hammers home his goal past Newtownshandrum's Mattie Ryan during the Co-Op Superstores Premier SHC semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Newtown had gone into every game they played this year as underdogs and the same applied here, despite their impressive win against Glen Rovers a fortnight ago. Up until Sunday, however, the Avondhu side had fed off that status and regularly upset the form book with their high-energy game. 

The magnitude of the game seemed to get to them, as it was the city side who roared out of the traps and the Barrs effectively one the game in an opening 18 minutes in which they could do no wrong.

In that time they took 13 shots at the target and hit 1-11 while a shell-shocked Newtown had only registered a Jamie Coughlan free. Ethan Twomey was effervescent at midfield for the Togher men, hitting 0-3, Ben Cunningham split 0-4 evenly between play and frees, Conor Cahalane rampaged through for 0-2, William Buckley picked off 0-1 while Brian Hayes hit 1-1, the goal coming from a beautiful pass from Conor Cahalane.

Newtownshandrum's Conor Twomey gets a straight red card from referee Colm Lyons. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Newtownshandrum's Conor Twomey gets a straight red card from referee Colm Lyons. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Newtown’s cause was further hampered by the loss of Conor Twomey to an extremely harsh red when his side trailed by 1-9 to 0-1 but as often happens, it was Twomey’s side who reacted the better as they outscored the Barrs by 0-10 to 0-4 from there to the break. Jamie Coughlan and Tim O’Mahony combined for seven of those scores while Cormac O’Brien and Cathal Naughton took care of the other three. 

The Barrs had lost their mojo a bit, but a couple of scores from Cunningham meant they led by 1-13 to 0-11 at the break as they turned to play with the breeze.

Any notions that Newtown may have had of launching a heroic comeback were dismissed moments after the re-start as a touch of class from Jack Cahalane gave Cunningham a sight at goal and the 19-year-old duly planted it past James Bowles.

Newtown managed to keep themselves close for the ten minutes that followed as three points from Coughlan and one from Naughton outdid further points from Hayes and Conor Cahalane for the Barrs to make it 2-15 to 0-15. 

However, once another free from Cunningham pushed the Togher side seven clear, all that was left for them to do was to stretch their lead as much as they wanted to. 

Cunningham brought his tally to 1-10, his brother Sam scored off the bench, Conor and Jack Cahalane combined for 0-3 while Hayes and Buckley also increased their tallies.

Coughlan and Naughton kept plugging away for Newtown but their afternoon deteriorated further when Mattie Ryan saw red but there was to be no denying the ‘Boys in Royal Blue’ as they look to end their long famine.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: B Cunningham 1-10 (0-6 f, 0-1 65), B Hayes 1-3, C Cahalane 0-5, E Twomey 0-3, W Buckley 0-2, S Cunningham, J Cahalane 0-1 each.

Newtownshandrum: J Coughlan 0-11 (0-8 f, 0-1 65), C Naughton 0-4, T O’Mahony 0-3 (0-2 f), C O’Brien 0-2.

ST FINBARR’S: S Hurley; E Keane, J Burns, C Walsh; G O’Connor, D Cahalane, B Hennessey (c); B O’Connor, E Twomey; B Cunningham, C Cahalane, P Buggy; W Buckley, B Hayes, J Cahalane. 

Subs: C Doolan for Walsh (52), S Cunningham for J Cahalane (52), C Keane for Twomey (56), B O’Connell for O’Connor (58), C Barrett for D Cahalane (60).

NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: J Bowles; C Twomey, P O’Sullivan, M Ryan; K O’Sullivan, T O’Mahony (c), J Herlihy; J Lane, C Naughton; J Coughlan, C O’Brien, D O’Connor; M Thompson, J Twomey, R Geary. 

Subs: D Hawe for Lane (18), C Griffin for Geary (31), S Griffin for J Twomey (36), P Noonan for O’Connor (49), M Bowles for Thompson (55).

Referee: Colm Lyons (Nemo Rangers).

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