Newmarket bow out to final-bound Cloughduv
County JAHC Semi-Final: Cloughduv 3-16 Newmarket 1-9
Having registered a couple of convincing wins over city kingpins Nemo Rangers and West-Cork side Ballinascarthy in their previous two outings, Newmarket had good reason to be hopeful heading into this county junior hurling championship semi-final clash with Cloughduv at Páirc Ui Rinn last Saturday.
The early indications were that they would indeed make a bold bid to complete a hat-trick of wins, as they dictated matters to build up an unflattering 0-4 to 0-1 lead inside twelve minutes.
What happened in the second quarter couldn't have been anticipated, however, with Cloughduv raising their performance to such an extent that they had effectively settled the issue before half-time.
Turning over 2-9 to 0-6 to the good, the Muskerry champions keep the momentum going in the second half, so much so that the final whistle couldn't come quickly enough for demoralised Newmarket.
It was indeed a sobering experience for the team that filled the runners-up slot in the Duhallow championship this year, but perhaps they will draw a modicum of consolation from the fact that they came up against a Cloughduv side that looked a class-act when they eventually clicked into top gear.
In truth, Cloughduv hadn't a weak link as they pounded Newmarket into submission, and, on this evidence, they won't be easily denied the glory when they square up to either Imokilly's Russell Rovers or Carbery's Kilbree in the showpiece.
They certainly had plenty to offer up where Mark Walsh, Donal Corkery and Joe Ryan made telling contributions, not to mention Brian Verling, who positively oozed quality at corner-forward.
Mark Verling was regularly seen to good effect at midfield, while Eoghan Clifford, Ger Ahern and Dave O'Leary performed most creditably in a defence that didn't exactly inspire confidence during the opening exchanges.
Conor O'Keeffe looked especially menacing at full forward for Newmarket early on, chipping in with two points from play as they moved three ahead by the seventh minute.
Cathal Browne was also on target from play in the 12th after taking a pass from Cian Crowley, who started most impressively on the right wing. So too did Kevin O'Sullivan at wing back and Sean Meehan at midfield before the trend of the play took a pronounced swing in Cloughduv's favour.
Taling control at midfield and in the half-back líne, Cloughduv managed to curtail the service to Newmarket's inside líne of attack, with the result that Conor O'Keeffe was unable to build on his early promise at full-forward for the losers.
In fairness, Cloughduv's No 3 Brian Ahern appeared to get O'Keeffe's measure in any case, and, as everything began to take on a rosy hue for the Mid-Cork men, they steadily built up an intimidating advantage before the break.
They reeled off five points ón the trot before Brian Verling, with a fortuitous effort from a '65, and Mark Verling shared a brace of goals to send their prospects soaring with 25 minutes gone.
Brian Verling then made it 2-7 to 0-4 from a free, and, after Kevin O'Sullivan broke the sequence for Newmarket, Verling tacked on two more from play, the second of which was a superb score, struck on the run without handling the ball from close to the right touchline.
Any hopes Newmarket might have harboured of getting back into the hunt were more or less dispelled after Joe Ryan and Brian Verling, from a free, stretched the gap to 11 points within four minutes of the restart, and it's a measure of their limitations in the second half that they didn't score from play until substitute Niall Collins found the net in stoppage time.
Ryan O'Keeffe quickly added a point, but substitute Kevin Barry-Murphy had the last word for Cloughduv when he knocked the ball over the line after it had been pumped into the danger-zone by Mark Verling from an expertly-taken sideline.
It was a comprehensive triumph by Cloughduv, who have now advanced to a county final at this level for the fourth time since 2009.
Cloughduv: B Verling 1-10 (6f, 1-0 '65), M Verling 1-1, K Barry-Murphy 1-0, M Walsh and J Ryan 0-2 each
Newmarket: D Hannon 0-4 (f), N Collins 1-0, C O'Keeffe 0-2, C Browne, K O'Sullivan and N O'Keeffe 0-1 each
Cloughduv: J Buckley; P Buckley, B Ahern, A Twomey; E Clifford, D O'Leary, G Ahern; M Verling, A Murphy; M Walsh, A Cronin, D Corkery; B Verling, J Ryan, J Moynihan Subs: K Barry-Murphy for Moynihan, 48, S Curzon for Twomey, 49, D O'Sullivan for B Ahern (injured), 51, A Ahern for B Verling, 58, L Long for Cronin, 58
Newmarket: D Kearney; A Browne, A Ryan, P Allen; K O'Sullivan, M Cottrel, J Ryan; S Meehan, J Guiney; C Crowley, C Browne, D Hannon; R O'Keeffe, C O'Keeffe, B O'Connor Subs: P Browne for Crowley, 38, D O'Keeffe for C Browne, 41, N Collins for Guiney, 46
Referee: B Murphy (Carrigtwohill)