No looking back for Fr O’Neill’s with happy ending in sight


Missing business for Mrs. O’Neill? Oh, you can be sure of that.

Somewhat understandably, however, the East Cork outfit doesn’t want to get bogged down in talk about their ultimate failings in 2020 and 21 and the multiple ghosts that consequently need to be buried.

The Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge men are only looking ahead, they tell us. A look in the rear-view mirror doesn’t get them across the finish line in two weeks.

And how desperate they are to get over the line in a fortnight, how hard they are trying to avoid a third straight County Finals loss.

They didn’t tell us the last. On the other hand, they didn’t have to either, because what player would want to suffer the disappointment of having narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight of Cork Hurling three years in a row.

“When you go into a finals, you’re not going to think about the past or what happened two years ago,” said co-manager Dave Colbert.

“Every year you claim it, and this is a new year. There’s a drive there, there’s an energy there, and we have to keep that up until the final.”

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Last but not least, Ms. O’Neill’s consistency and resilience to come back season after season is to be commended. Getting work done on the day it matters most is a mystery they have yet to solve, but when it comes to piecing together a path to becoming a decision maker, there are few better.

“You have a wild attitude; You’ll just keep coming back,” Colbert continued.

“They are hard workers and positive guys. They have been together for a long time and know each other inside out, they push each other.”

This recent semi-final win wasn’t as comfortable as the score line might suggest. Yes, Fr O’Neill’s were only led twice – in the 21st and 22nd minutes – but as we turned the corner into the last quarter, three in a row from Bride Rovers’ William Finnegan (0-2, one clear) and Shane O ‘Connor reduced his opponents’ lead to the minimum, 0-15 to 0-14.

However, they didn’t have an opportunity to equalize, Fr O’Neill delivering a 4-1 KO within five minutes to go 1-19 to 0-14 in the 54th minute. The goal was completed by Billy Dunne, his fifth in the Championship, with the assist worthy of even more mention, a beautiful through ball from Cillian Broderick.

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Bride Rovers’ Shane O’Connor and Ronan O’Connell tried to stem the bleed with a pair of white flags, but two wides straight after ended their evening.

Ms. O’Neill’s, mind you, were far from finished. The winners went down five straight in a dominant closing scene through Declan Dalton (two frees), Kevin O’Sullivan and substitutes Eoin Conway and Liam O’Driscoll.

From the 49th minute to the final whistle, Fr O’Neill’s beat their East Cork rivals 1-9 to 0-2.

“Ten goalscorers are good. We unloaded the bench and got influence from everyone in terms of points, assists and tackles. We have huge reserves on our bench and it’s crucial that we have this squad that can get through these big, physical fights.”

The first half was typical Derby fare; irritable, anxious and without any flow. Neither side’s short passes helped either, as the passes kept getting missed, while their respective shooting also lacked precision (Fr O’Neill’s counted eight first-half distances to Bride Rovers’ five).

Three in the trot from Kieran Kearney, Patrick O’Flynn and Daniel Dooley gave Bride Rovers their first lead after 21 minutes, but Fr O’Neill’s responded with a four in the jump through Dalton (three frees) and the impressive Jason Hankard to one Work out the interval advantage from 0-10 to 0-8.

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The task now is to achieve their happy ending in next month’s final against Courcey Rovers.

Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: D daltons (0-11, 0-10 free); B. Dunne (1-2); T Millerick (0-3); JHankard (0-2); D Harrington, K O’Sullivan, John Millerick, Joe Millerick, L O’Driscoll, E Conway (0-1 each).

Goalscorers for Bride Rovers: W Finnegan (0-4, 0-1 free); A Walsh (0-1 free, 0-1 ’65), P O’Flynn, S O’Connor (0-2 each); Roche E, Kearney K, Dooley D, O’Connell R, Roche B, Ryan C (each 0-1).

FROM O’NEILL’S: P O’Sullivan; M Millerick, S O’Connor, R Kenneally; M O’Keeffe, D Harrington, G Millerick; T Millerick, K O’Sullivan; J Hankard, D Dalton, Joe Millerick; John Millerick, C Broderick, B Dunne.

Subtitle: P McMahon for Joe Millerick (47 mins); E Motherway for Kenneally (49); L O’Driscoll for John Millerick (57); P. Hassett for Hankard (59); E Conway for Dunne (64).

BRIDE ROVER: CHogan; T O’Sullivan, S Walsh, J Pratt; P O’Flynn, E Roche, S O’Connor; K. Kearney, D. Dooley; B Roche, R O’Connell, A Walsh; Finnegan W, Ryan C, Tobin C.

Subtitle: C. O’Connor for Dooley (38); M Collins for A Walsh (43, inj).

Referee: M Maher.



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