Grenagh into JHC final
IT wasn't a game that will linger too long in the memory, but that won't bother Grenagh as they advanced to the county junior hurling championship final at Blackrock's expense in Pairc Ui Rinn last Saturday.
County JHC semi-final
Grenagh 1-12 Blackrock 0-9
With heavy rain making for very slippery conditions, it was always going to be difficult for the protagonists to produce their best form, and it has to be said that neither could be faulted in terms of work-rate and commitment.
The conditions militated against quality forward play in particular, but when push came to shove, it was the Muskerry kingpins who raised the tempo, easing to safety inside the closing ten minutes.
They underlined their potential in the last quarter when the decision to switch midfielder Colm O'Neill to corner forward gave their attack a fresh impetus, and Seamus Coleman also made his presence felt on moving from full forward to partner the industrious Niall Doherty at midfield.
O'Neill posted a couple of tasty points, while effective substitutes Tadgh Walsh and Martin Barry chipped in with one apiece, as Grenagh went on to secure a win that always looked on the cards following the boost of a goal from Tom Kenny in the 42nd. minute.
Kenny's strike pushed Grenagh 1-6 to 0-5 ahead, an advantage that wasn't insignificant in light of Blackrock's obvious limitations in attack.
The Grenagh forwards didn't exactly set the world on fire either in an eminently forgettable first half, at the end of which Blackrock trailed by 0-5 to 0-3.
Tom Kenny, with three points, two from frees, midfielder Niall Doherty and corner forward Conor Fitzgerald were Grenagh's marksmen in the first half when Ryan Dineen was the only Blackrock forward to register a score from play.
Midfielder Mark Drummond chipped in with another, but the Rockies went close to bagging two goals, with Grenagh custodian Mark Kenny reacting smartly to foil a flick on a high ball by former Cork senior Fergal Ryan in the 21st. minute.
In proving equal to a David O'Shea effort from a penalty in stoppage time,'keeper Kenny ensured that Grenagh never fell behind in the first half.
Blackrock twice cut the gap to the minimum on the turnover, with substitute Alan Nolan and David O'Shea pointing at either side of a Grenagh score from Dean Dalton, but then came the goal from Tom Kenny, who first-timed the ball to the net after Diarmuid Dorgan's long-range free had broke kindly for him at the edge of the square.
It was a big blow to the Rockies' chances, especially since it came shortly after they had lost the services of centre back Wayne Sherlock through injury.
Sherlock had arguably shaded his duel with his former Cork colleague Tom Kenny prior to that, but, in fairness, Andrew Murphy also kept his end up well on moving from full back to fill in for Sherlock in the pivotal berth.
With Mark Drummond also working effectively at midfield, Blackrock showed they weren't yet ready to wilt, even after a couple of sublime points from Tadgh Walsh and Colm O'Neill helped Grenagh to move 1-8 to 0-6 ahead with 47 minutes gone.
After getting back within striking range, however, Blackrock were overpowered in the closing stages when Grenagh played their best hurling of the match.
It yielded three points on the trot, including two fine scores by Martin Barry and Colm O'Neill from play, before Blackrock's fading hopes were completely extinguished when David O'Shea had his goal-attempt from a free saved in the final minute of regulation time.
Grenagh: M Kenny, P McCarthy, R Dorgan, K O'Neill, D Dorgan, G Russell, K Cummins, N Doherty (0-1), C O'Neill (0-2), D Dalton (0-1), T Kenny (1-5, 0-4f), S Bourke, U Duggan, S Coleman, C Fitzgerald (0-1). Subs: T Walsh (0-1) for Fitzgerald, M Barry (0-1) for Duggan.
Blackrock: P Delaney, J Ryan, A Murphy, R Laide, M O'Donoghue, W Sherlock, S Murphy, L Conway, M Drummond (0-1), E Buckley (0-1), D O'Shea (0-5f), R Dineen (0-1), B O'Keeffe, P McCarthy, F Ryan. Subs: A Nolan (0-1) for McCarthy, D Meaney for Sherlock (inj), C Kilcoyne for F Ryan, C Crowe for O'Keeffe, B Cashman for O'Shea.
Referee: K O'Regan (Ballyhea)