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CO-OP SUPERSTORES COUNTY PIHC FINAL REPLAY

Inniscarra 3-12

Castlemartyr 1-17

It was a lot to expect that last Saturday Co-Op Superstores county premier intermediate hurling final replay might equal the drawn game in terms of drama and excitement.

For the privileged spectators in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, however, it provided an even more enthralling encounter, with the issue decided by a last-gasp strike from Inniscarra’s Colm Casey.

One of the longest-serving members of the team, it was by no means unfitting that Casey should have the satisfaction of firing in the goal which gave Inniscarra their first taste of county championship success since they were crowned junior kingpins in 1975.

Obviously, he was the hero at the final whistle, but there was no shortage of other players whose input into this triumph was immense. Take goalkeeper John O’Keeffe, who deflected a well-struck penalty by Castlemartyr’s Barry Lawton over the bar in the 56th minute.

Inniscarra were leading by the bare minimum at the time, and the concession of a goal at that stage would almost certainly have proved their undoing.

Then there was Pádraig Holland, who, on the bench for most of the drawn game, fully justified his call-up to the starting fifteen by contributing 1-3 from the full-forward berth.

And what about Cork senior Seán O’Donoghue, who provided inspiration at wing-forward at stages of the game when it was most needed by the Muskerry side.

Plenty of plaudits too for the defensive sextet, most notably Liam Ryan and Seán Sheehan, who was arguably their most consistently effective performer overall at wing-back.

It was obvious from the outset Inniscarra, largely unfancied at the start of the campaign, were ready to make a mockery of suggestions they would be hard-pressed to replicate the form that had earned them a share of the spoils the previous Sunday.

They were two points up inside four minutes, and, after Barry Lawton scored a superb individual goal for Castlemartyr, it was quickly negated by David O’Keeffe when Seán O’Donoghue’s deft pass created the opening.

The Mid-Cork men were 2-2 to 1-1 ahead after a long ball by wing-back Andrew McCarthy led to their second goal from Pádraig Holland, who was set up by Owen McCarthy in the 14th minute.

Seán O’Donoghue and Owen McCarthy then shared a brace of points at either side of an ambitious goal attempt by Cathal Casey, which was foiled by Castlemartyr custodian Darragh Joyce.

It’s fair to say Inniscarra were full value for a 2-4 to 1-1 lead entering the second quarter, as they looked the better team up to that point.

The decision to restructure their half-forward line from an early stage worked out well, with Seán O’Donoghue shaping up most promisingly after being switched from centre-forward to the left wing.

Joseph Enright and Jack Harrington were both to the fore at midfield, while Inniscarra were even more dominant in the half back line, evidenced by Castlemartyr’s decision to bring Joe Stack, who made a significant impact at full-forward in the drawn game, out to the right wing with 23 minutes gone.

Considering they had been forced to play second-fiddle for much of the first-half, Castlemartyr did well to retire at the interval 2-6 to 1-5 in arrears.

They were always likely to raise their performance on the resumption, and that’s exacly what happened, so much so they were back on terms, 2-7 to 1-10, by the 39th minute.

The introduction of former Cork senior Brian Lawton helped to give them an edge for a spell at midfield, where Ciaran Sice was also prominent, while Joe Stack, back at full-forward, and especially Barry Lawton looked increasingly menacing up front.

Stack’s growing threat prompted Inniscarra to spring seasoned stalwart John O’Callaghan from the bench in the 40th minute.

Although later forced to foul Stack for the penalty, O’Callaghan did bring more stability to Inniscarra’s last line of defence as the second-half wore on

Following an equalising point by Castlemartyr centre-forward Mike Kelly, Inniscarra were clearly in need of a boost, and it came when Sean O’Donoghue’s good work enabled Fergal O’Leary to nudge them ahead again in the 41st minute.

Castlemartyr eventually hit the front, 1-12 to 2-8, at the three-quarter mark, and it looked ominous for Inniscarra, especially after the losers ‘keeper Darragh Joyce kept out a rasper from Seán O’Donoghue at that juncture.

Digging deep, Inniscarra proceed to curb Castlemartyr’s momentum as an absolutely exhilarating battle for supremacy unfolded in the last quarter.

A point from substitute Kieran Rice pushed Inniscarra two ahead in the 55th minute, but, even after John O’Keeffe prevented Castlemartyr from gaining maximum return from the penalty, they had good cause to fear the worst as the contest entered stoppage time.

Castlemartyr points from influential centre-back Ciaran Joyce and Mike Kelly served to separate the sides before Inniscarra earned a ‘65 and a late opportunity to pull the game out of the fire.

It seemed more than likely Castlemartyr would survive, but they didn’t deal with Joseph Enright’s perfectly measured delivery into the danger-zone, allowing Colm Casey to pounce for the goal with the game’s last puck that sent Inniscarra, and their supporters, into ecstasy.

INNISCARRA: J O’Keeffe; D Keane, B O’Mahony, J O’Sullivan; S Sheehan, L Ryan, A McCarthy; J Enright, J Harrington; F O’Leary 0-1, S O’Donoghue 0-1, C Casey 1-1; D O’Keeffe 1-0, P Holland 1-3, O McCarthy 0-5 (4f) Subs: J O’Callaghan for O’Sullivan, 40, K Rice for 0-1 O’Keeffe, 42

CASTLEMARTYR: D Joyce; C Martin, D Moran, B O’Tuama; J Lawton 0-1, C Joyce 0-1, Jamie Stack; M Cosgrave, C Sice 0-1, Barry Lawton 1-2( 0-1 penalty), M Kelly0-8 (5f 1’65) J McGann 0-1; A Kelly 0-1, Joe Stack 0-2, E Martin Subs: Brian Lawton for Cosgrave, ht, B McGann for E Martin ht, D Leahy for J McGann, 40, P Fleming for A Kelly, 52

REFEREE: C Lyons (Nemo Rangers)

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