2006 SH V Newtownshandrum
NEW-LOOK Newtownshandrum, same old style, same old result in the Cork SHC opening round.
With no Ben O'Connor (absent through injury), Allstar defender Pat Mulcahy at centre-forward, Jerry O'Mahony at corner-back, a totally rearranged half-back line and two 17-yr-olds, Ryan Clifford and Sean Riordan introduced during the game, this was a much-changed Newtownshandrum from the side that lost in Croke Park less than two months ago.
Even so, new manager Simon Morrissey looks set to continue the high-tempo, high-risk possession game that has seen Newtown win three of the last five Cork senior titles.
The Castletownroche pitch was in pristine condition for a match between two sides of contrasting styles. Last year there was nothing between them at the end of a hotly-contested encounter with Newtown relieved to take the spoils. This was an opportunity for Bride Rovers to reverse that result and stake their claim on this year's championship, and a large crowd gathered in anticipation.
Then came the rain, and it came with a vengeance. Right through the first-half it remained, driven on by a breeze that was directly behind the East Cork side and it didn't relent until the final quarter. By then the spectacle was ruined, both sides struggling to come to grips with conditions that made possession a lottery.
Newtown won this game in the first quarter of each half. In the first half, into the wind and the driving rain, they led by 0-4 to 0-2 after 19 minutes, a critical period. In the final ten minutes of that half Bride Rovers did manage to make the wind tell and scored six points without reply to lead at the break by four, 0-8 to 0-4, but Newtown had established their foothold.
A sign of the conditions, however, was that the bulk of those scores, from both sides, came from placed balls.
In the absence of Ben, Jerry O'Connor was the appointed sharpshooter for the champions, missed a few in that period, but no matter.
It wasn't looking too good for Bride Rovers for the second half, but a feature of their first-half performance was the way they pressured Newtown, crowded them, made it difficult for them to kick-start their possession/running game.
Their full-back line was well on top, with Barry Murphy doing a good man-marking job on Cork senior panellist Cathal Naughton, though the Newtown half-forward trio of Donal and Pat Mulcahy and John Paul King, were foraging well - King with two fine points from play. Midfield was a good battle between the Murphy brothers Brian and Padraig, for the Rovers, Alan T. O'Brien and Jerry O'Connor for Newtown. The challenge for Bride Rovers then was to keep that pressure on Newtown for the opening quarter of the second half, try and maintain their lead, then hope the champions would feel the pressure as the minutes ran out. They failed.
They managed to hold for five minutes, but after an eight-minute purple spell, Newtown were clear. Two points from free-taker Jerry, one from inside his own 65, a point apiece from John Paul King and Pat Mulcahy and then the decisive score. A low ball drilled inside by Jerry (covered acres, didn't look like that groin was troubling him in any way), ended in the hands of fellow midfielder Alan T and he placed it into the top corner.
Try as they might Rovers could not come back. They missed an open goal, after Richie Cahill first rattled the post and Donal Ryan then blazed the rebound wide. In the end they managed only one point, their only score of the second period.
Bride Rovers cause was not helped by the sending off of Barry Murphy for a wild pull on Jerry O'Connor and a second yellow card. But Newtown will take this win, while this isn't the last of Rovers either. They'll be heard from again.
Scorers: Newtownshandrum: Jerry O'Connor 0-5 (all frees); JP King 0-3; A.T. O'Brien 1-0; P. Mulcahy 0-1. Bride Rovers: J. O'Driscoll 0-5 (all frees); T. Broderick, P. Murphy, B. Johnson (free), S. Ryan, 0-1 each.
NEWTOWNSHANDRUM: P. Morrissey; J. O'Mahony, B. Mulcahy, D. Gleeson; M. Farrell, P. Noonan, W. O'Mahony; A.T. O'Brien, Jerry O'Connor; D. Mulcahy, P. Mulcahy, J.P. King; C. Naughton, J. Bowles, John O'Connor. Subs: R. Clifford (John O'Connor 44); S. Riordan (Naughton 56).
BRIDE ROVERS: B. Hazlewood; B. Walsh, J. Murphy, A. Collins; B. Johnson, Barry Murphy, P. Walsh; P. Murphy, Brian Murphy; D. Ryan, R. Cahill, P. O'Driscoll; T. Broderick, J. O'Driscoll, S. Ryan. Subs: none used.
Referee: G. Harrington (Carrigaline).
This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, May 06, 2006