Father O’Neill’s are hoping for a third lucky break next month after securing their place in a third consecutive Cork Senior A hurling final.
A beaten finalist in the 2020 and 21 deciders, Mrs O’Neill has several ghosts to bury in the decider against Courcey Rovers, a side they had seven left for when they crossed paths in Group B last month.
Fr. O’Neills’ recent semi-final victory was attributed to a power boost in the fourth quarter, which saw them hit 4-1 between the 49th and 54th with no response to draw 1-19 to 0-14.
Just prior to that crucial and victorious breakout, William Finnegan (0-2, one clear) and Shane O’Connor at a trot had thrown over three for Bride Rovers to try and keep the deficit to a minimum. They had gotten as close as possible to their opponents since the end of the first half, but they didn’t have time to equalize when Fr O’Neill knocked them back on their heels with a 1–4 KO punch.
The goal, scored in the 49th minute, was completed by Billy Dunne – his fifth in the Championship – after a superb through ball from Cillian Broderick.
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.
Fr O’Neills, mind you, were far from done, reeling off five in a row in a dominant final scene through Declan Dalton (two frees), Liam O’Driscoll, Kevin O’Sullivan and Eoin Conway.
From the 49th minute to the final whistle, Fr O’Neill’s beat their East Cork rivals 1-9 to 0-2.
At the end of a nervous and bumpy first half, it was Mrs. O’Neill who came out on top by 10-0 to 8-0.
After Father O’Neill fell behind for the first time after 21 minutes after a Bride Rovers three put them 7-0 up 6-0, the Ballymacoda and Ladysbridge men were impressive with their reaction and made quick comebacks front back thanks to four goals from Declan Dalton (three frees) and Jason Hankard.
The last couple in this sequence will have greatly upset Bride Rovers as they were two entirely avoidable scores. The first was a short puckout that Eoin Roche illegally scraped onto the ground, earning Dalton an extremely scoring free-kick.
Bride Rovers again fell short on the ensuing restart, was turned around and then fouled Dalton just outside the 20-yard line.
Both sides relied heavily on a short passing game, but this contributed to the fact that there was a lack of fluidity in the first half due to passes that kept breaking off. Shooting on both sides was also less than accurate, with Fr O’Neill counting eight wides among his opponents’ five. The only real scoring chance of the half came from Bride Rovers goalkeeper Cian Hogan, Fr. O’Neill, who chipped away at Billy Dunne’s tame groundstroke.
The winners were more sober at the break, their improved directness drawing several frees that Dalton lasered between the Bride Rovers posts.
Will the third final appearance next month finally give them a happy ending?
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).
W Finnegan (0-4, 0-1 free); A Walsh (0-1 clear, 0-1 ’65); P. O’Flynn, S. O’Connor (each 0-2); Roche E, Kearney K, Dooley D, O’Connell R, Roche B, Ryan C (each 0-1).
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.
P McMahon for Joe Millerick (47); E Motherway for Kenneally (49); L O’Driscoll for John Millerick (57); P. Hassett for Hankard (59); E Conway for Dunne (64).
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.
C. O’Connor for Dooley (38); M Collins for A Walsh (43, inj).