Castlemartyr Edge Cliffhanger

19 July, 2009




It all came down to this in the end. Deep into injury time, with both sides deadlocked after an absorbing hour’s battle, centre back Brian Smiddy stood over a free on the half way line. “Advice” from the sideline ordered him to leave it to his brother Jimmy, so Brian sloped away destined one thought to play no further part in the game. As the elder brother addressed the ball, the Castlemartyr contingent present, took a deep breath and prepared to will the ball over the bar from the long distance. The next act was drama beyond belief and must have been rehearsed in front of the creamery shop by the Smiddy brothers all those years ago. Brian somehow ghosted into the centre half forward berth un-noticed and Jimmy delivered a 15 yard free into his path. Brian gathered the ball, took a few steps, and with a sweet strike, dissected the posts and put the Reds into the quarter final of the East Cork. It was a great way to win a great contest, but also a cruel way to lose for a gallant Midleton team, who probably felt their efforts, deserved at least a draw.

On a fine day for hurling, even though there was a rather stiffish cross field breeze, the Reds and the Magpies met in Killeagh to determine who would qualify to meet Carrigtwohill in the quarter final.

Midleton settled the quicker, and raced into a 2 point lead within the first 3 minutes. Jimmy Smiddy pegged one back on the 4thminute when he was released into space by Derek Bowens and Seanie Hennessey equalised on the 12thminute following great work by the industrious Barra O Tuama and Derek again.

It was a full- blooded encounter at this stage with nothing being spared by both sides, but in fairness to both teams the exchanges were fair and no dirty stroke was pulled over the hour.

Rob O Donavan at full back was getting plenty to do, but was more than equal to the task, and even though Midleton edged clear again on the 13thminute, a Jimmy Smiddy free quickly cancelled that advantage out.

Midleton pointed again on the 17thminute to restore their advantage (4 points to 3),but a Jimmy Smiddy free struck form all of 60 yards out by the sideline , deceived the Midleton keeper and ended up in the back of the net to give the Reds a two point lead..

The game upped another gear at this stage and the scores came thick and fast. Midleton responded with a point on the 22ndminute, but Jimmy added two of his own (one from play), to put the Reds 1-5 to 0-5 in front. But disaster struck the Reds defence 4 minutes before half time when a high lobbing ball into the square was not dealt with adequately and the sliothor was scrambled over the line to restore parity.

Castlemartyr responded well to this setback though with 3 unanswered points before half time from Jimmy Smiddy. Barra O Tuama and a fine one from young Barry Lawton, as Niall Barrett got ready to blow the short whistle. This left the Reds 1-8 to 1-5 ahead but with the elements to face for the next 30 minutes.

The second half was a ding dong battle throughout. By the 40thminute the Reds were in front 1-11 to 1-9 with Jimmy again having supplied the 3 Castlemartyr points from frees. Then 2 minutes later Brian Lawton ,who hurled himself to a standstill in the second half ,launched a long free into the Midleton square, and a deft flick later from his brother Barry, saw the green flag waving happily. This put 5 points between the teams and one would have hoped the Reds could kick on from here but almost immediately the Magpies responded with a goal of their own, when yet again Castlemartyr failed to clear their lines and the ball was scrambled over the line yet again. Another Magpie point 3 minutes later reduced the margin to 1 point and the 5 point cushion was no more.

Jimmy added a point from a 65 to make it 2-12 to 2-10 on the 49thminute, as Brian Lawton continued to do trojan work, but this looked like all being in vain when Midleton broke through for their 3rdgoal with 7 minutes left to give themselves the lead for the first time since the 20thminute.

It was a nervous time now for Castlemartyr as they looked down the barrel of an early championship exit, but instead of wilting under the pressure, they upped their performance. Adrian Bowens drove them on from half back and Evan O Keeffe won plenty ball at full forward, which on another day could have been more rewarded. But it was the trusty hurley of Jimmy who got the equaliser on the 55thminute, to leave it 2-13 to 3-10, and setting up the grand stand finish.

Both teams searched furiously for the winning score, and the Castlemartyr rearguard was heroic in repelling many a Magpie foray. Instead it was Brian Smiddy who got the aforementioned precious winner sparking scenes of unconfined joy amongst players, mentors and supports alike.

Well done to all concerned, and we look forward to the next joust with Carrigtwohill in early August. But remember the next challenge is to put back to back performances together, which we have been unable to do for some time now.