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Duhallow set for semi final

County SFC quarter-final: Duhallow 0-13 Valley Rovers 0-10


Not for the first time, Duhallow are proving a bogey outfit for Valley Rovers, for the second consecutive season, the divisional side squeezed their wasteful opponents into submission in the County SFC quarter-final at Páirc Uí Rinn last Saturday night.

Perhaps lucky to be ahead at the break, Duhallow looked far the more formidable force on the resumption, playing comfortably within themselves though forced to absorb some late pressure to bank a crucial three point victory. Above all, pretty efficient rather than a spectacular performance, good enough to secure a passage to a semi final against inform Castlehaven.

For Duhallow, Donncha O'Connor emerged the main man in attack showing repeatedly for the ball and finishing confidently with a 0-6 tally to show the retired county player has lost none of his scoring gloss. Still, Valley Rovers will again be disappointed, last season, they handed Duhallow victory on the concession of a late goal.

Twelve months on, it wasn't that the Innishannon side didn't possess chances to swing the outcome, but a combination of missed opportunities, marvellous goalkeeping and defensive heroics by the Duhallow rearguard left Valley deeply frustrated at the long whistle.

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Duhallow pressed early only to record two quick wides yet they were to prove much sharper for there was a sloppy aspect to Valley Rovers game, not least on kicking eight wides in the opening half.

After Jack Walsh nudged Rovers ahead for the only occasion, Duhallow held their own, drawing encouragement from points to Michael Vaughan and Donncha O'Connor. The divisional men held many pillars in defence and were thankful to the timely intervention of 'keeper Pa Doyle.

Not the greatest of spectacles, Rovers put numbers behind the ball, attacking in waves failed to deliver the scores whilst at the opposite end, points to O'Connor and Eoghan McSweeney pushed Duhallow 0-4 to 0-2 ahead at the close of the opening quarter.

Valley Rovers kept chasing through the workrate of Ian Crowley, Kevin Canty, Eoghan Delaney and Jack Walsh. The misses stacked up, apart from Walsh's early point, they relied on pointed frees from Fiachra Lynch and John Cottrell to add to their tally with Billy Crowley blasting off the crossbar.

Meanwhile Duhallow were far more economical with lesser possession, Seamus Hickey placed O'Connor for a point before Vaughan marked down his second for a 0-7 to 0-4 advantage at the break.

On the restart, Duhallow rose the intensity levels to dominate the third quarter. The play of Bart Daly and the McLoughlin brothers secured the locks in defence, Paul and Aidan Walsh got on the ball in midfield with Hickey, O'Connor and Vaughan showing prominence in attack.

The Ballydesmond veteran pointed sweetly on the double before a great move involving Vaughan and Hickey saw McSweeney bisect the uprights. At times, the Duhallow shooting was somewhat wayward yet they maintained the momentum, Kevin Crowley picked out Lorcán McLoughlin with a terrific pass to point for a clear 0-11 to 0-5 advantage at the three quarter stage.

Valley were operating second best, relying on pointed frees from Lynch to get on the scoreboard. That contrasted to Duhallow, finding it much easier to create opportunities, substitutes playing a role, John F Daly fed Hickey to point before Paul Walsh laid off to Kanturk colleague Lorcan O'Neill for a duplicate score.

Trailing by seven, Valley Rovers realised that they had to open up if they had any chance and they proceeded to become more adventurous. Substitute Darragh Murphy kicked their only second point from play in the 54th minute followed immediately by another from Delaney.

And it could had been much better for Valley, only for outstanding Duhallow 'keeper Doyle pull off a brilliant save from Lynch. A tiring Duhallow were now under pressure, conceding frees, Lynch pointed a pair yet time was on Duhallow's side, holding a sufficient cushion to progress to a county semi final against a Castlehaven side that easily swept past County and Munster champions Nemo Rangers.

DUHALLOW: P Doyle (Knocknagree); B Daly (Newmarket), E O'Callaghan (Rockchapel), J McLoughlin (Kanturk); K Crowley (Millstreet), K Buckley (Knocknagree), L McLoughlin (Kanturk) 0-1; P Walsh (Kanturk), A Walsh (Kanturk); F O'Connor (Knocknagree), M Vaughan (Millstreet) 0-2, M Dilworth (Knocknagree); E McSweeney (Knocknagree) 0-2, S Hickey (Rockchapel) 0-1, D O'Connor (Ballydesmond) 0-6 (0-2f) Subs: L O'Neill (Kanturk) 0-1 for M Dilworth (ht bc), J F Daly (Knocknagree) for F O'Connor (40), D Hickey (Cullen) for L McLoughlin (46), D Moynihan (Ballydesmond) for M Vaughan (53), J O'Connor (Boherbue) for S Hickey (58)

VALLEY ROVERS: C Desmond; I Crowley, T O'Brien, A Lyons; D Lynch, A Walsh, R O'Sullivan; J Cottrell 0-1f, K Canty; D Lordan, E Delaney 0-2, J Walsh; E O'Reilly, B Crowley, F Lynch 0-6f Subs: J Kiely for A Walsh (28 inj), D Murphy 0-1 for E O'Reilly (ht), B Murphy for D Lordan (44), W Hurley for R O'Sullivan (54)

Referee: D Murnane (Macroom)