AFTER looking the better team for most of the game, Blarney had to rely on a last-gasp point from a Mark Cremin free to force extra-time in a remarkable county PIHC clash with Cloyne at Pairc Uí Rinn last Saturday evening.
They got the job done in the additional 20 minutes, however, with substitute Colin Murphy proving a trump card, chipping in with three points, including the score in the 77th minute that served to separate the sides at the death. Ironically, Murphy failed to deliver after being sprung from the bench initially, but he was instrumental in signposting Blarney's path to the last 16 on being pressed into action for a second time.
The result means that Cloyne, just down from senior ranks, have only one more opportunity to get back into the title race, and they could have no complaints about their fate in this Round 2 encounter. The East-Cork men got off to a tonic start, with corner forward Luke Cahill poaching a goal inside two minutes, but that merely served to sustain them during a first half in which Blarney held most of the aces.
After hitting the front, 1-2 to 1-1, through a goal from corner forward David Cremin in the seventh minute, Blarney remained there until the interval, turning over with a 1-9 to 1-6 advantage that didn't flatter them in the slightest. Ross McMcNamara was very quick to make an impact on the '40 for Blarney, shooting their first two points and creating the chance for the goal by young Daniel Cremin, who emerged as the main thorn in the Cloyne rearguard as the first half progressed.
John Daniel Good and especially Mark Cremin gave them an edge at midfield, while Joe Jordan excelled at centre back, with Paul O'Leary very much in control as well against Diarmuid O'Sullivan at the edge of the square. Daniel Cremin was quick to make his mark again on the resumption, picking off a point before adding a goal, following good work by Eugene McCarthy. With McCarthy and John Daniel Good on target, Blarney had stretched the gap to nine points, 2-12 to 1-6, before midfielder Paul O'Sullivan rekindled Cloyne's hopes with a 39th. minute goal.
Although Cremin replied with a point for Blarney, Cloyne, restructuring their formation to good effect, enjoyed their best spell in the last quarter when goals in quick succession from Brian McCarthy and Diarmuid O'Sullivan nudged them ahead, 4-8 to 2-13, inside the last five minutes.
Killian Cronin, who had struggled to get to grips with Blarney's lively centre forward Ross McNamara, thundered into the picture after being switched to full back, Eoin O'Sullivan, their top performer on the night, continued to make an impression on going from the left wing to centre back, while Conor Cusack's move from wing forward to the edge of the square also brought results.
The decision to switch their corner-backs, with Brian Fleming moving on to David Cremin, paid off for Cloyne as well, as did Brian McCarthy's move from full-back to midfield. After getting within an ace of snatching a dramatic win, however, Cloyne came under pressure again in extra-time, as Blarney, aided by points from Ross McNamara, Colin Murphy and Darragh O'Brien, finished the first period 2-17 to 4-9 to the good.
The Mid-Cork side continued to shape up like winners until Cloyne got back on terms when a speculative delivery by centre forward Donal O'Sullivan's went all the way to the net, but justice was done when Colin Murphy nailed the match-winning point in a thrilling finale.
Blarney: D Cremin 2-2, M Cremin 0-4 frees, R McNamara and C Murphy 0-3 each, E McCarthy 0-2, B O'Connell, P O'Driscoll, C Sykes, JD Good and D O'Brien each
Cloyne: Diarmuid O'Sullivan 1-3, 0-3 frees, P O'Sullivan 1-2, L Cahill and Donal O'Sullivan 1-1 each, B McCarthy 1-0, D Cahill 0-2
Blarney: P Hallissey, D O'Neill, P O'Leary, C Buckley, D Walsh, J Jordan, J Barrett, M Cremin, JD Good, E McCarthy, R McNamara, C Sykes, B O'Connell, P O'Driscoll, D Cremin. Subs: S Mulcahy for McCarthy, D O'Brien for O'Driscoll, C Murphy for Sykes, Sykes for Murphy, S Harrington for Barrett, Murphy for Sykes
Cloyne: D Og Cusack, J Sherlock, B McCarthy, B Fleming, J Nyhan, K Cronin, E O'Sullivan, P O'Sullivan, K Dennehy, A Walsh, Donal O'Sullivan, C Cusack, L Cahill, Diarmuid O'Sullivan, D Cahill Subs: C Smith for Sherlock, K Mullins for Dennehy
Referee: J Larkin (Douglas)