A tour de force performance from Barry Johnson propelled Bride Rovers into the quarter-finals of the county championship.
Midfielder Johnson was a class apart during the first-half of Saturday’s evening Round 2A fixture as he single-handedly hauled Bride Rovers back into contention after a tame start from the Rathcormac outfit saw Avondhu race four clear by the 10th minute. Johnson flung over a pair of frees to put his side on the board before hammering a 20-metre free to the top right corner of the Avondhu goal to wipe out the early dominance of the divisional side.
He’d finish the half with 1-5 to his name, adding three further white flags in the second-half. That Bride Rovers were six clear at the finish was largely down to his energy and accuracy around the middle, complimented by the assuredness of Brian Murphy and Ryan Prendergast (first-half) at the back.
Avondhu, despite their promising start, were always facing an uphill battle given the absence of talisman Peter O’Brien and Cork U21 pair Darragh Fitzgibbon and Cillian O’Connor. O’Brien clipped 1-12 in their first round victory and his presence as a binding force in attack was sorely missed, particularly in the second period when Avondhu were forced to chase green flags.
“We are delighted,” gushed Bride Rovers manager Joe Delaney at the final whistle.
“We didn’t start well, but we were creating the chances so we weren’t overly worried. Our lads kept going and going and we got the rewards we deserve.
“We are thrilled with the way things are going. We just keep stepping up when we need to step up. We always look for hard work. This evening, we had so many hooks and blocks. They worked so hard. They don’t know what it means to stop. They keep going to the well.
“We have so many leaders and we are so happy that it is all coming together. We are looking forward to the quarter-finals and while we respect all teams, we are not afraid of anybody. We hold no fear because we know when we hurl well we are capable of good things.”
A Henry O’Gorman point returned Avondhu in front after Johnson’s 1-2 haul had tied proceedings by the close of the first-quarter. It would prove the last occasion Jody Hayes’ charges held the inside lane as a Michael Collins goal on 22 minutes nudged Delaney’s side ahead. Credit here to Sean Ryan for a superb block and dispossession on Martin Brennan, the Bride Rovers half-forward then lofted the sliotar across the danger area where Collins collected and buried past Aidan Long.
Johnson (0-3, 0-1 free) and Shane Walsh traded efforts with Kieran Morrison, Andrew Cagney (0-1 free) and Seanie O’Connell thereafter; Bride Rovers enjoying a 2-6 to 0-9 interval advantage.
Bride Rovers could have had this contest wrapped up early in the second period but five wides in the first seven minutes left the door ajar for Avondhu. And when Charleville pair Jack Barry and Andrew Cagney struck successive points in the ensuing passages, the gap was back to two – 2-8 to 0-12.
No closer, though, were they allowed come and the winners outscored the divisional side by 0-7 to 0-3 in the closing 20 minutes to run out convincing winners. A number of defensive errors in the Avondhu defence during this period had a two-pronged effect; Bride Rovers were gifted easy scores, while the intensity of Avondhu's play waned considerably. Daniel Dooley (0-2, 0-1 free), Johnson (0-3 frees), Michael Collins and Richard Whitty swelled their tally and while Avondhu bombarded the opposition defence during the lengthy period of second-half stoppages, they were unable to find a clear path to Denis Fitzgerald’s goal.
Scorers for Bride Rovers:
Barry Johnson (1-8, 1-6 frees); Ml Collins (1-1); Daniel Dooley (0-3, 0-1 free); Denis Fitzgerald (0-1 free), Richard Whitty, Shane Walsh (0-1 each).
Scorers for Avondhu: A Cagney (0-4, 0-4 frees); H O’Gorman, S O’Connell, J Barry (0-2 each); S Ronayne (0-1 free), P Herlihy, D O’Reilly, K Morrison, J Hayes (0-1 each).
Bride Rovers: Denis Fitzgerald; Ryan Prendergast, Donncha Carr, Shane Kearney; Ml Kearney, Brian Murphy, Shane Walsh; Jason Pratt, Barry Johnson; William Finnegan, Daniel Dooley, Sean Ryan; Ml Collins, Richard Whitty, Stephen Glasgow.
Subs:DJ Cahill for Finnegan (41 mins); Michael Liddane for M Kearney (43); Shane O’Connor for Pratt (47).
Avondhu: A Long (Mallow); E Clancy (Fermoy), E Dillon (Milford), J Daly (Fermoy); M Walsh (Kildorrery), B O’Sullivan (Fermoy), M Brennan (Fermoy); J Barry (Charleville), K Morrison (Fermoy); A Cagney (Charleville), J Hayes (Mallow), P Herlihy (Mallow); H O’Gorman (Milford), D Hayes (Mallow)S O’Connell (Milford).
Subs: D O’Reilly (Ballyhooly) for Barry (41 mins); S Ronayne (Clyda Rovers) for O’Gorman (46); C O’Sullivan (Clyda Rovers) for O’Connell (51); C Lane (Kilworth) for Walsh (57); M Kavanagh (Charleville) for Cagney (57).
Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).