Cork CFE 2-8 V 0-12 UCD
A hammer-and-tongs second-half display from Cork C.F.E. put them through to the Independent.ie Freshers hurling division 2 league final to the despair of U.C.D. on a dreary Thursday afternoon last at Ballykelly.
With heavy ground at the Kildare venue, a war of attrition was in-store. However, some splendid individual performances on both sides made the game an attractive spectacle. Eric Mealy was unceasing for Cork while Aaron Stafford showed his experience as a Cork county minor hurler. Stafford's class was matched near the end by U.C.D.'s Collum Breslin.
For the metropolitans, Nevin Rossiter commanded the full-back berth and Henry Keyes made a few incisive bursts through the Cork defence. It was a terrific acid test for the Rebels as they now play U.U. Jordanstown in the final.
Cork's cracking start was an ominous sign for U.C.D. Within six seconds of the throw-in, their captain, Stafford, broke from the centre of the field and opened his side's scoring-account with a splendid shot. Ben Cowman struck back for U.C.D. four minutes later when he sallied over a similar gem.
Although Eoin Sheehan restored the Munster men's lead, his score also marked the start of a thirteen-minute scoring-drought for the eventual victors. In the interim, U.C.D.'s half-back line of Andrew O'Dowd, Tom Skehan and Ben Cowman began to play with composure, which gave rise to a U.C.D. string of four points as Henry Keyes (2) and Brendan Cullen (2 frees) obliged.
The Cork response was clinical though. Subsequent to a saved James Moynihan shot, netminder Colin Lynch couldn't keep the Cork crowd at bay as they flooded the goal-mouth with players. Darragh Looney looked like the last player to get a touch on the ball. The sides shared the final four points of the half to leave things all-square at the interval (1-4 to 0-7).
Callum Crowe and Brendan Cullen traded blows after the change-of-ends to establish parity for the sixth time of the game. A crucial passage of the game was about to unfurl though. Between the 37th and 41st minutes, U.C.D. struck four of their ten wides and in the meantime Callum Crowe and Aaron Stafford landed some inspirational points.
That two-point margin was too much for U.C.D. to grapple with in spite of some tenacious harrying from Brian Bolger. As Brendan Cullen mounted pressure on Cork, they held firm and managed to steal a goal with two minutes of normal-time remaining. Paul Leopold's ball-in looked like it was connected with by Looney for the second time lucky.
Cork C.F.E. - Nicolas Ó Direáin, David Myles, Adrian Kenneally, Eric Mealy, Dale Bowen, James Forde, Gavin Bagnell (0-1), Paul Leopold, Aaron Stafford (capt., 0-2), Callum Crowe (0-2), Eoin Sheehan (0-1), Darragh Kelly, James Moynihan, Darragh Looney (2-0), Craig Murphy (0-1). Subs: Seán Wade (0-1) for Craig Murphy; Nathan Adams for David Myles.
U.C.D. - Colin Lynch, Paddy Doran, Naomhan Rossiter, Cathal Niall (capt.), Andrew O'Dowd, Tom Skehan, Ben Cowman (0-1), Collum Breslin (0-1), Aaron Murphy (0-1), Shane O'Brien, Henry Keyes (0-2), Seadna Crowley, Declan Stack, Brendan Cullen (0-6 frees), Brian Bolger (0-1). Subs: Peter Crowley for Shane O'Brien.
Referee - Dave Coady (Ballykelly).