Cashel King Cormacs rode their luck in the opening half of this County Intermediate Football Quarter final to run out three-point winners against a shot-shy Ballyporeen side in a disappointing decider under the lights in New Inn.
With so many stars - from all grades - on show, this tie never reached the heights the large contingent were expecting. Ballyporeen, who relied on the accuracy of Conor Sweeney for scores, cursed the woodwork and poor finishing in an opening half where the South Division side enjoyed the majority of the play. On the other hand, Cashel KC with veteran TJ Connolly rolling back years, weathered the storm and turned limited possession into the scores that booked the West Division representatives a place in the last four.
It was the Cashel midfield duo of Tipp dual minor star Dylan Fitzell and Connolly that saw the latter break the deadlock in the opening minute. Ballyporeen tried to work the ball in towards the goal, but were repelled by the hardworking Cashel defence, but levelled after 5 minutes when a quick free-kick to Conor Sweeney who scored from about 30 yards. Ballyporeen went in front – for the only time - after 10 minutes when a shot from Paudie Fitzgerald came back of the post and quickest to react to the rebound was Conor Sweeney to fire between the posts.
Twelve minutes had passed when Ballyporeen’s Paudie Fitzgerald with just the Cashel ‘keeper Gearoid Slattery to beat dragged his shot and from the goal-kick Cashel levelled when good approach work by William Fitzell and Mickey Coleman ended with TJ Connolly scoring from 20 yards. With Ballyporeen struggling to find an opening, Cashel regained the lead after 18 minutes when a Jonathan Grogan penetrating run from his own half found William Fitzell who split the uprights.
For the remainder of the half Ballyporeen had the upper hand, but blew a number of goal chances. Anthony Crotty shot wide, a Shane Lynch shot beat Cashel’s goalie Gearoid Slattery, but rebounded off the inside of the post before a shot from 25 yards by Darragh Lyons levelled at 0-3 each after 23 minutes. Ballyporeen missed another great chance when a run down the right wing from Shane Molan ended with his centre finding Dan Bennett, whose initial shot was only parried by Cashel’s goalie Gearoid Slattery, but instead of turning the loose ball home sliced it across the face of an open goal and wide.
Having survived that Ballyporeen onslaught, Cashel started the second half on top forcing two successive 45s in the opening five minutes. While the first was pushed away for another 45 the second taken by goalie Gearoid Slattery spit the posts to restore Cashel’s lead at 0-4 to 0-3. Cashel went two clear after 37 minutes after good work between Michael Coleman and Michael McDermott.
Ballyporeen looked like they may make of fight-back when Conor Sweeney with a long-range effort brought it back to a single score. However, Cashel’s Lee Burke with a shot from a similar distance restored the two-point gap just minutes later.
Unfortunately, those early scores failed to inspire either side. Ballyporeen huffed and puffed and should have scored after 55 minutes when a defender misjudged the flight of the ball allowing Dan Bennett in on goal, but a great save from Gearoid Slattery with his feet came to Cashel’s rescue. That let-off saw Cashel extend their lead after 57 minutes with two rapid scores, one a free-kick by Eddie Walsh and Micheal Coleman to go 0-8 to 0-4 clear. Conor Sweeney did get his fourth and his side’s fifth a minute into injury time but by then the sands of time had run out for Ballyporeen.
Cashel KC: G. Slattery (0-1;45), P. Morrissey, D. Delahunty, T. Hewitt, S. Delaney, J. Grogan, L. Burke (0-1), TJ Connolly (0-2), D. Fitzell, P. Taylor, A. Cummins, M. Coleman (0-1), M. McDermott (0-1), W. Fitzell (0-1), E. Walsh (0-1f)
Subs: R. Anglim for Cummins, S. Reade for McDermott, E. O’Neill for W. Fitzell
Ballyporeen: J. English, S. Molan, D. Russell, E. Morrissey, W. English, J. O’Callaghan, D. Hyland, C. Sweeney (0-4), J. Martin, S. Lynch, D. Lyons (0-1), T. Sweeney, A. Crotty, D. Bennett, P. Fitzgerald Subs: M. O’Neill for S. Molan, T. Grislane for M. O’Neill, T. Molan for T. Sweeney
Referee: T. McGrath (Loughmore/Castleliney)