Match report by Eoghan Cormican for Irish Examiner
A Brian O’Sullivan free in the fifth minute of second-half injury-time not only handed Kanturk a first win of the Cork PSHC and preserved their top-flight status, it was a victory that dumped out reigning champions Midleton.
On a dramatic day of action, the East Cork side bow out along with fellow heavy-hitters, Sarsfields, who were beaten by St Finbarr’s in Páirc Uí Rinn.
Newtownshandrum’s comfortable win over Douglas meant Midleton needed to come out on top in this gripping Group A encounter and while they led by three as late as the 57th minute, they were reeled in and overhauled by a terrific Kanturk finish.
Trailing by 1-11 to 0-8 at the break, Midleton returned in front on 50 minutes as Sam Quirke struck for their third goal of the second half, the earlier two delivered by Pa White on 31 minutes and Ross O’Regan on 38 minutes.
Quirke’s goal had the 2021 winners 3-13 to 1-16 in front and when Paul Haughney pointed in the ensuing play, their lead stretched to four. But Midleton would add only one further point in the remaining quarter of an hour that was played, that a 56th minute Conor Lehane free.
Kanturk, who were stubborn in the extreme, restored parity thanks to a superbly flicked Alan Walsh goal on 57 minutes.
Both sides had chances thereafter to sneak the win, but it was Kanturk, through O’Sullivan’s 65th minute free, that delivered a famous and relegation play-off avoiding victory.
Having found themselves 0-4 to 0-2 behind seven minutes in, Kanturk proceeded to outscore the reigning premier senior champions by 1-9 to 0-4 to head matters on a 1-11 to 0-8 interval scoreline.
Cork U20 Brian O’Sullivan contributed five placed-ball efforts, but no doubt he would have been extremely disappointed with the pair of frees he sent wide late in the half.
Centre-back Ryan Walsh, who switched with midfielder Lorcán McLoughlin midway through the half, got forward for three superb points from play, while the goal came courtesy of full-forward Colin Walsh on 27 minutes.
Walsh’s goal crowned a 1-4 burst for the 2021 Senior A champions that took them from 0-6 to 0-5 behind to 1-9 to 0-6 in front. Point-scorers during this Kanturk spell of superiority were Colin Walsh, O’Sullivan (free), and Ryan Walsh (0-2).
Kanturk could well have finished the first half with three goals as Aidan and Alan Walsh both saw green flag efforts repelled. Kanturk ‘keeper Grantis Bucinkas made sure there was no green flag waving at the other end either, producing a fine save to deny Cormac Beausang.
Midleton did succeed in mining goals in the second half and in most cases three in the space of 19 minutes would have been more than sufficient. But not today. Their championship and title defence is over.
Scorers for Kanturk: B O’Sullivan (0-8, 0-6 frees, 0-2 ‘65s); A Walsh (1-3); C Walsh (1-2); R Walsh (0-3); L McLoughlin, I Walsh, L O’Keeffe (0-1 each).
Scorers for Midleton: C Lehane (0-9, 0-8 frees); P White, R O’Regan (1-1 each); S Quirke (1-0); P Haughney (0-2); S O’Leary Hayes, C Beausang (0-1 each).
Kanturk: G Bucinkas; P Walsh, J Browne, D Browne; J McLoughlin, R Walsh, L O’Neill; L McLoughlin, B O’Sullivan; I Walsh, A Walsh, L O’Keeffe; A Walsh, C Walsh, J Fitzpatrick.
Subs: C Clernon for Fitzpatrick (58).
Midleton: B Saunderson; E Moloney, L Dineen, S Smyth; S O’Leary Hayes, T O’Connell, S O’Sullivan; P Haughney, S Quirke; A Mulcahy, R O’Regan, P White; C Lehane, C Beausang, L O’Farrell.
Subs: C Smyth for Mulcahy (HT); M Finn for White (60, inj); A Power for Haughney (62).
Referee: David Daly.