BEN O’CONNOR FIRED over a late point to ensure that Newtownshandrum, champions four times in the last 12 years, remains in this season’s senior hurling race as they drew with Na Piarsaigh, 2-12 to 1-15, in last night’s fourth round tie in Mallow. The North Cork club enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with two goals from Donagh Stack propelling them into a 2-4 to 0-7 lead.
Padraig Gould and Cork senior John Gardiner kept Na Piarsaigh in touch as they trailed 2-7 to 0-11 at the interval. A goal from Keith Buckley and some excellent points by Gould helped Na Piarsaigh move ahead 1-13 to 2-9 by the three-quarter stage and they were still in front approaching the finish before former Cork legend O’Connor rescued Newtownshandrum with the point that ensured a replay will be required.
The winners of that replay will face Ballymartle at the quarter-final stage. In last night’s other fourth round tie, Midleton triumphed by 2-14 to 0-17 against divisional outfit Avondhu in Ballynoe. Midleton trailed 0-10 to 0-8 at half-time but goals from Cork seniors Luke O’Farrell and Conor Lehane enabled them to pull clear in the second-half and set up a quarter-final meeting with either Douglas or Bishopstown.
There was huge relief for city giants Blackrock and Glen Rovers as they secured their senior hurling status for next year with third round victories in Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The wins ensure the duo, who have 57 senior titles between them, no longer have relegation fears hanging over them and they will now advance to the fourth round.
Blackrock defeated Bride Rovers 2-11 to 0-14 after having trailed by 0-9 to 0-4 at half-time. An early second-half goal by Kevin O’Keeffe provided Blackrock with a boost as they drew level at 1-7 to 0-10 but after Bride Rovers hit four consecutive points, the city club looked in trouble again. But O’Keeffe pounced for a 53rd minute goal that proved crucial in enabling them secure a victory.
In the second game at the venue, the 2010 beaten finalists Glen Rovers enjoyed a comprehensive success by 3-16 to 1-8 against Cloyne. Goals from David Cunningham, Dean Brosnan and an own goal helped Glen Rovers win out with Cork senior Paudie O’Sullivan raising Cloyne’s solitary green flag. Glen Rovers now face reigning champions Carrigtwohill in the fourth round while Blackrock must play 2010 title winners Sarsfields at the same stage. The relegation senior hurling final will now be contested by East Cork rivals Cloyne, beaten finalists in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and Bride Rovers, beaten finalists in 2008.
Last year’s beaten finalists Sixmilebridge were knocked out of this season’s competition last night in Clarecastle after they lost their second game in Group 3 of the SAHC to 2008 champions Clonlara by 1-16 to 2-11. The result means Clonlara have now qualified for this year’s quarter-finals. Sixmilebridge lead by 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time thanks to a goal from former Clare great Niall Gilligan but Clonlara fought back to triumph in the second-half, inspired by current county senior Nicky O’Connell.
In the first game of yesterday’s double-header at Clarecastle, it finished Kilmaley 1-15 Clooney-Quin 2-12 in Group 1 of the SAHC. Clooney-Quin lead by 0-8 to 0-7 at the interval and despite Peter Duggan, who will be involved in the Clare squad for next Saturday’s Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21HC semi-final against Antrim, scoring 2-9 overall, they had to be satisfied with a draw.
The results mean ahead of the final round of group games that Inagh-Kilnamona (Group 1), Newmarket-on-Fergus (Group 2) and Cratloe and Clonlara (both Group 3), are guaranteed spots in the quarter-finals. Kilmaley only need a point from their last game against Inagh-Kilnamona to emerge from Group 1 ahead of Clooney-Quin while Crusheen only need a point from their last game against Newmarket-on-Fergus in Group 2 to qualify in front of Broadford. In the SBHC, it will be either O’Callaghan Mills or Éire Óg Ennis who qualify from Group 1 for the quarterfinals and from Group 2 it will be either Tubber or Scarriff.