Cork SHC Final: Big names make big gains as Imokilly retain title
Divisional side pull away in the third quarter against Midleton at Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Imokilly’s Shane Hegarty celebrates scoring a goal during the Cork SHC Final against Midleton at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photograph: Oisín Keniry
Imokilly 4-19 Midleton 1-18
Goals at critical stages helped Imokilly retain their Cork hurling title and their fourth in all at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday. They also won back-to-back in 1986 and 87.
Former Cork forward Paudie O’Sullivan scored two goals with current captain Séamus Harnedy and Shane Hegarty also finding the net. Imokilly are a divisional team comprising non-senior clubs in the east of the county.
The champions’ big players came up trumps with Harnedy, Colm Spillane and Bill Cooper playing leading roles in a game, which was decided long before the final whistle in front of a crowd of just over 10,000.
The decisive period proved to be the third quarter, when Cooper played in O’Sullivan for his second goal in the 40th minute and Hegarty added the fourth two minutes later. At 4-13 to 1-13 in front, Imokilly were on their way.
They led by 2-11 to 1-9 at the break after getting the ideal start with a goal inside 90 seconds.
A long ball from midfielder Mark O’Keeffe wasn’t dealt with by the Midleton full-back line and O’Sullivan capitalised with a low shot to the corner of the net.
That goal separated the sides after the opening quarter, the representative side 1-4 to 0-4 clear, but Imokilly moved five in front with quick points from Harnedy and William Leahy.
Midleton responded well, though, captain Luke O’Farrell firing over a superb score, which was quickly followed by Cormac Walsh and a Conor Lehane free.
But, just when the club side thought they were coming to terms with their opponents, Harnedy pounced for a brilliant second goal in the 20th minute.
The captain made a super catch in the air before rounding his marker and leaving goalkeeper Tommy Wallace helpless with a thunderbolt to the far corner.
Midleton, at last, managed a way through for a much-needed goal of their own, three minutes from half-time.
Seán O’Leary-Hayes picked out Patrick White with a pass into space and the corner forward eluded a defender before finishing impressively.
Typically, though, Harnedy grabbed the next two points, including a spectacular effort to leave his side five clear at the interval.
A determined Midleton returned for the second half eager to stamp their authority and three points without response hinted at a possible revival.
Lehane converted a free. Cormac Beausang and O’Farrell, who missed a golden goal-scoring opportunity, pointed from play and at 2-12 to 1-13 expectations rose, only for Imokilly to dampen them almost immediately with their two-goal burst.
After that, it was always going to be a case of how much Imokilly would win by, though a late injury to Harnedy threatened to take some of the gloss of their victory. However, he recovered to accept the cup.
IMOKILLY: D O’Callaghan (Watergrasshill); M Russell (Aghada), C Barry (Castlelyons), C Spillane (Castlelyons); C O’Brien (St Ita’s), N O’Leary (Castlelyons), J Cronin (Lisgoold); B Cooper (Youghal) (0-4), M O’Keeffe (Fr O’Neill’s); Brian Lawton (Castlemartyr), S Harnedy (St Ita’s, capt) (1-6), S Hegarty (Dungourney) (1-1); W Leahy (Aghada) (0-5, two frees, one 65), P O’Sullivan (Cloyne) (2-1), Barry Lawton (Castlemartyr) (0-1).
Subs: G Mellerick (Fr O’Neill’s) for O’Keeffe (47 mins), D Dalton (Fr O’Neill’s) (0-1) for Barry Lawton (52), C Fleming (Aghada) for Harnedy (inj, 60+5 mins).
MIDLETON: T Wallace; E Moloney, F O’Mahony, S Smyth; L Dineen, S O’Leary-Hayes, J Nagle; P Haughney (0-1), S O’Farrell; L O’Farrell (capt) (0-3), C Walsh (0-4), C Beausang (0-1); S O’Meara (0-1), C Lehane (0-7, five frees), P White (1-1).
Subs: P Nagle for O’Meara (half-time), T O’Connell for White (42 mins), R O’Regan for O’Mahony (45),
Referee: D Kirwan (Cork).