Ballyhegan 3-8 Whitecross 1-13
Ballyhegan pulled off the shock of the round with a hugely impressive and well-deserved win over Whitecross.
James McAtarsney was the rock in defence, making several important turnovers, while Paul Courtney battled hard around the middle of the field.
But all the plaudits must go to James McCormack. The youngster was outstanding from start to finish, building up a personal tally of 2-5 by the end of the contest.
All he needed was two minutes to grab his first two scores. Both goals.
Mel Courtney sent through the pacey corner forward who smashed the ball to the net with 45 seconds on the clock.
One-minute late McCormack found himself staring down the centre of the goal and the outcome was never in doubt. Another green flag raised.
Conor Williamson split McCormack’s efforts to hand Ballyhegan an outstanding 2-1 to 0-0 lead as the underdogs looked well up for the game.
Michael McGrory’s trustworthy left foot opened the Whitecross account before Cathal McSherry made an outstanding catch and chipped over the resulting mark.
Then it was McCormack’s turn again. He soared along the wing for thirty yards, slowing only to use his accurate left foot to solo the ball.
The Whitecross defence shut off his chance to turn in on his left, so McCormack nonchalantly squeezed the ball over with his right for the score of the game.
Whitecross began to settle and got back in contention in the form of a penalty, confidently eased into the corner by Conor Malone.
Two scores either side of the water break got the favourites back to within one before Mel Courtney abandoned his man-marking duties, which he excelled in, to slot over a great score.
Whitecross tagged on the final three points of the opening half, to take the lead for the first time, 2-3 to 1-7.
Perhaps Ballyhegan’s purple patch had passed and it was fair to assume that Whitecross would rally after regathering at the interval.
And it seemed that way. McGrory again displayed his accuracy from the dead ball to put his side two in front.
Patrick Marley kept his side in touch with his first score of the afternoon before Ballyhegan pounced once again.
Paul Courtney sent a long, diagonal ball to the square and substitute Philip Bonney was on hand to punch the ball to the net. Game on.
Unfortunately, Bonney collided with the Whitecross net-minder and had to be replaced, but his impact was a defining reason for Ballyhegan’s victory.
Whitecross rallied off four of the next five points to get their noses ahead for only the second time, 1-12 to 3-5.
Ballyhegan were still in with a chance of course, and cometh the hour, cometh the man.
James McCormack knocked over two frees, both of which he had earned himself, to give Peter Turley’s men a one-point advantage.
The story could have been a much different one however, as Whitecross created a meaningful attack, with Eamon Reavey baring down on goals.
The corner back had all the hard work done, rounded the keeper and surprisingly kicked the ball the wrong side of the post.
A huge relief to Ballyhegan, who would have one final say.
Courtney made an astonishing catch, pulling the ball from the clouds to set off another attack, with almost 40 minutes now played in the second period.
The chance fell to the right man and McCormack made no mistake in firing his side two points in front with the finish line now in sight.
McGrory pointed the final score of the day and the final whistle was met with a huge Ballyhegan roar as they now await the winners of Keady vs Middletown in the quarter final.
Sarsfields 1-13 Culloville 0-12
Form books usually go out the window in championship, and although the result was as expected, Culloville gave a good account of themselves.
The underdogs met their opponents stride for stride during the opening 30 minutes, with the Sarsfields goal the telling score of the half.
Niall Rowland had put his side three points ahead by the ninth minute before Paul McGeown struck the opening goal of the game to tie the contest.
The sides traded points to see the half time score all square, Culloville 0-7 Sarsfields 1-4.
The game continued in its evenly matched nature, before Sarsfields finally found some breathing space by the 15th minute, leading 1-10 to 0-10.
Colm Watters ensured a nervy finish as he closed the gap to one with two points in quick succession.
But that was as close as the Blues could get with the High Moss men hitting the final three points to book their place in the last eight where they now face Tullysaran.
Clonmore 2-8 Wolfe Tones 0-10
With the game ticking towards a conclusion, the sides looked like they couldn’t be separated, and extra time may be called upon.
But a late Clonmore goal was enough to secure the win and see them advance to the last eight of the Intermediate Championship.
Incredibly, The Robert Emmets club outscored their opponents 2-4 to 0-2 in the final fifteen minutes of action.
Wolfe Tones led at the interval 0-5 to 0-3 before extending their lead with five unanswered points at the start of the second period.
But goals win games and two of them helped Clonmore over the line and they now face Clan na Gael in the quarter finals.