Blarney: P. Hallisey; J. Barrett; D. McSweeney; P. O’Leary; J. Jordan; J. Hughes; M. O’Leary; B. Hurley; B. O’Connell (0-2); E. McCarthy (0-2; J. Hurley 0-1); J. O’Sullivan (1-0); M. Cremin (0-6; 0-4f); P. O’Driscoll (0-2, 0-1sl; S. Mulcahy 0-2); R. McNamara (E. O’Connor); C. Murphy.
Castlelyons: S. O’Sullivan; B. Carroll; C. Barry; S. Kenny; L. Sexton; C. McGann; A. O’Sullivan; P. Murphy; E. Maye; C. Spillane (0-3); P. Mahon; B. Fitzgerald (0-2); R. Feeney (0-2, 0-1f; A. Spillane 0-1); T. McCarthy; D. Tobin (0-3; A. Fenton 0-1f).
Blarney defeated Castlelyons in a relatively close and entertaining game tonight in Riverstick. There wasn’t much between the teams, but a scrappy goal before half-time set up a physical and miserly Blarney side and a second half comeback was too much for the young Castlelyons side. Besides the goal, the Blarney defence was much more experienced and powerful then their counterparts and in general the quality of their defenders alone will make them extremely hard to beat in the following rounds.
For Castlelyons, there were a number of decent performers. Colm Spillane tried exceptionally hard in the half-forward line and has inter-county player written all over him; Colm Barry had a good second half, although he and the rest of the full-back line struggled with the sun in their eyes in the opening half, while Anthony Spillane scored a beautiful point from near the sideline when he came on and in general looked all class. Elsewhere, Ciaran McGann was powerful under the dropping ball, Peter Murphy worked hard and played a lot of ball in the middle of the field, Brian Carroll was very solid at corner back and Shane O’Sullivan was excellent throughout in goals. However, things never really clicked for Castlelyons – they started Timmy McCarthy on the square with both corner-forwards playing deep, but they completely failed to play decent ball, being hassled constantly in the middle of the pitch by Blarney. When the ball did go in, it went in high and suited the likes of McSweeney and Paul O’Leary perfectly. Little changed when they moved Fitzgerald inside and Timmy McCarthy out, although substitutes Fenton and Spillane did improve things quite a bit. In general, it was clear Castlelyons came up against a more powerful, and experienced team that was more deserving of victory.
For Blarney, the back six as a whole really stood out. Joe Jordan had an exceptional second half at half-back and was vital in stomping out any Castlelyon’s comeback. Darragh McSweeney was his usual uncompromising self on the edge of the square and neither Timmy McCarthy or Barry Fitzgerald got much of anything off him. Finally, James Hughes had a great battle with Colm Spillane, the classy Blarney center-back barely coming out on top as the game wound on. Blarney have a couple of pacy stylists in Barra O’Connell and Mark Cremin further up the pitch but what got the relegated from senior, their lack of class up front, may ensure that they do not get promoted, although to be fair O’Driscoll and Mulcahy had their moments in the corners. Blarney are really one of those teams that excel in low scoring matches, etching out victories through physicality, organisation and a miserly defence, but nonetheless one worries what happens when they do concede a couple of goals and need to go all out to win a game.