Bob Lester (Courtesy of Irish Examiner)
Premier IHC semi-final: Newcestown 2-9 Youghal 1-12
TO say Newcestown are dogged would be an understatement. They simply don’t know how to lose.
It may have taken two fortuitous goals to keep their Premier IHC ambitions alive against Youghal at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday, but deep inside they know too they squandered three sublime chances at the death to book a final spot after Eoin Kelly’s 56th minute equalising goal had given them a lifeline.
But it would have been rough justice on a Youghal side that shot 10 wides in the first-half and got a real taste of Newcestown’s never-say-die mentality.
Newcestown made a super start with brothers Fionn and Cathrac Keane giving them a quick two-point advantage, Youghal settled though and Brendan Ring got their opening point in the fifth minute. But Youghal never made effective use of the strong wind at their backs in the opening half as battling Newcestown led 0-3 to 0-2 after seven minutes. And then their opening goal – you’ll never see an easier one — two minutes later, Kelly’s harmless looking shot looking easy meat for goalkeeper Richard Cunningham only for a wicked bounce carrying the ball over the line.
Undaunted, however, Youghal were in at the other end when a Newcestown defender was penalised for lying on the ball and, from the resulting 21, Lee Desmond struck a rasper to the top right corner as Newcestown led 1-3 to 1-2 after the opening quarter.
No question Youghal had plenty possession in the second quarter but they failed to make use of it. Buoyed by a solid half-back line, where Conor Spillane and Damien Ring in particular were outstanding, they were squandering too many chances. They moved Bill Cooper to full-forward to little effect and watched as Newcestown were far more economical through Hugh Curran and Kelly and, at the break. Youghal only held s a slender 1-7 to 1-6 lead after playing with the wind.
Youghal were up for the fight though in the second-half and, after a fine move, Andrew Curtin soon tied things up. And it got even better when Brett Moloney put them ahead for the first time in the 35th minute.
But Newcestown were always in their faces and with John Crowley, Kevin Long and Ger O’Driscoll working hard in defence there were no easy scores coming from Youghal.
Eight minutes into the second-half Youghal had a glorious chance of a second goal when a rash pull resulted in Colm Lyons awarding them a penalty. This time, however, Desmond’s strike was saved by goalkeeper Jim O’Sullivan. But Youghal were still in the ascendancy and Brendan Ring’s accuracy earned his side a 1-11 to 1-8 lead entering the final quarter.
It got even better when Coleman made it a four point cushion in the 47th minute. But again Newcestown’s battling spirit manifested as they whittled down the Youghal lead. Just playing two up front, first Fionn Keane pointed and then substitute James O’Mahony almost had a levelling goal. But it was soon to come – Kelly getting his second in the 56th minute with again questions over goalkeeper Richard Cunningham. And Newcestown might even have won it, three chances going abegging - Kelly’s free going wide with Fionn Keane and Daniel Twomey also missing from play. It would have been a nice steal though, they’ll have to do it all again next weekend for the right to meet Courcey Rovers in the final.
Scorers for Newcestown: E Kelly 2-3 (2fs), F Keane, H Curran 0-2 each, C Keane, M. Bradfield 0-1 each.
Scorers for Youghal: B Ring 0-5 (3fs), L Desmond 1-0f, A Curtin 0-3, D Ring, B Cooper, B Moloney, B Coleman 0-1 each.
NEWCESTOWN: J O’Sullivan; O Keane, J Crowley, K Long; B Horgan, N O’Sullivan, G O’Driscoll; D Twomey, G O’Rourke; F Keane, T Twomey, H Curran; M Bradfield, C Keane, E Kelly.
Subs: S Ryan for Bradfield (43), B O’Donovan for Twomey (57).
YOUGHAL: R Cunningham; B O’Sullivan, K Walsh, B Ring; B Goggin, C Spillane, D Ring; B Moloney, N Roche; K O’Mahony, B Cooper, B Coleman; A Curtin, L Desmond, B Ring.
Subs: J O’Mahony for K O’Mahony (ht), K Dempsey for Curtin (52).
Referee: C Lyons (Nemo Rangers).