Bandon edge into last four
St Mary’s 1-8
TO a certain extent, St Mary’s could be forgiven for thinking that this latest encounter with arch-rivals and near neighbours Bandon could well be considered as a real case of déjà vu.
Last year when the sides met the Lily Whites came good by the narrowest of margins after the Ballineen/Enniskeane combination had come within an ace of victory, but suffered from a bad dose of squandermania by shooting an incredible tally of wides.
This time, at Newcestown on Saturday evening in the quarter-final of the Buckley Financial South West junior A football championship, the Saints were again forced to finish second best.
While the victory margin against them was increased to two points, current champions Bandon had to endure many anxious moments before a late, late point by substitute Ronan Crowley, in the 62nd minute, edged them just past the winning post.
On reflection, St Mary’s will know that a few key factors cost them the match. Goals certainly win matches, and the two that St Mary’s conceded, one at the start of the opening half and the second at an equally early stage of the closing half cost them dearly.
Equally frustrating for St Mary’s manager John Caulfield must have been the factor that while his side created some superb scoring opportunities over the course of the match, the old bugbear of shooting poor wides, both from frees and general play, again reared its ugly head.
While the overall tally ended at ten apiece, St Mary’s shot eight in the opening half and while their opponents were prodigal in front of goal late in the game as well, the Saint’s poor finishing was at a stage when they had a real grip on the game.
It proved a real baptism of fire for St Mary’s in the opening seconds of the first half. With a lightning first foray up the left touchline the outstanding Mark Sugrue spread-eagled a hesitant St Mary’s defence.
His reverse pass with the flying Cian O’Mahony was inch perfect and inside 30 seconds, the Cork dual star sent a searing shot whistling past Brian Corcoran.
With Bandon settling in better and getting an early grip in defence, as Kevin and Donough Lucey impressed, the Lily Whites continued to call the early shots. Full-forward Alan Johnson was fouled and Sugrue hit an upright but the rebound was just sent wide, much to the relief of the Saints who had yet to settle.
However, inspired by the fine fielding of the Daly brothers Chris and Peter and with Barry O’Mahony, Stephen Keohane, Stephen Cronin and Eanna Kelleher all now in overdrive the losers soon were back in contention.
Brian McCarthy sent over a neat point after seven minutes and replicated the score from a free seven minutes later. Sandwiched in between, Mark Sugrue sent a free over via an upright, but the pendulum of possession was clearly swinging in the losers’ direction, as the early champion’s momentum waned a bit.
Then in the 16th minute, St Mary’s got a massive boost with a truly spectacular solo goal. After good work by both Jason Collins and Brian Brady had thwarted a dangerous Bandon raid into enemy territory, lively winger Barry O’Mahony picked up a lovely pass from the classy Chris Daly.
Embarking on an electrifying solo sally, he sailed past a bevy of despairing tackles before sending an unstoppable drive past Pat Prendergast.
Game on big time as, stung by the unexpected reversal Bandon upped the tempo again, with midfield pairing James O’Donovan and Conor Sugrue much more competitive in the aerial duels, and Jason McCarthy and Peter Murphy settling to the task on hand.
Indeed, O’Donovan was to go on and turn in a sterling second 30 minutes performance around the midfield fulcrum that was to have a huge bearing on the eventual outcome. Frees by Mark Sugrue restored Bandon’s advantage, 1-3 to 1-2, at the break.
Scarcely had two minutes elapsed in the second period before Bandon struck again. Mark Sugrue, the hardworking Donough Lucey, Johnson and Robert Moloney were all involved before impressive winger Philip Crowley billowed the Saints’ net.
A real body blow for the losers but with Chris Daly, Cronin, Hugh O’Neill, Stephen Keohane and Anthony Quinn, who had been introduced at the interval, all collectively putting their shoulders to the wheel, the Saints failed to be fazed.
Chris Daly pointed a free and had a brilliant score from play, 2-3 to 1-4, but Mark Sugrue steadied Bandon with two frees, as the gap opened up to four points, 2-5 to 1-4.
However, Brian McCarthy, one of St Mary’s best forwards, sent over a delightful score in the 48th minute and when Chris Daly (free)and a point by Jason Collins made it a one-point game, 2-5 to 1-7, it was all to play for.
But a more composed and experienced Bandon held their nerve to repel the best St Mary’s could throw at them as the champions finished in style with a splendid score from the boot of Philip Crowley and that insurance score by namesake Ronan.
Fittingly, sandwiched in between it was a last defiant act by a game Brian McCarthy in the 58th minute that provided a little solace for a now disappointed Saint’s outfit.
Bandon now advance to the penultimate stage where they await the sorting out of a triangle involving Ballinascarthy, Gabriel Rangers and Tadhg MacCárthaigh.
Bandon: Mark Sugrue 1-5 (5f), Philip Crowley 1-1, Ronan Crowley 0-1.
St Mary’s: Brian McCarthy 0-4 (1f), Chris Daly 0-3 (2f), Barry O’Mahony 1-0, Jason Collins 0-1.
Bandon: Pat Prendergast; James Walsh, Kevin Lucey, Cian O’Mahony; Peter Murphy, Donough Lucey, Jason McCarthy; Conor Sugrue, James O’Donovan; Fionn O’Leary, Mark Sugrue, Philip Crowley; Robert Moloney, Alan Johnson, Darren Crowley.
Subs used: Eoghan O’Donovan, Barry Collins, Ronan Crowley, Dave Aherne.
St Mary’s: Brian Corcoran; Brian Brady, Daniel Milner, Eanna Kelleher; Jason Collins, Stephen Keohane, Killian McGillicuddy; Peter Daly, Stephen Cronin; Barry O’Mahony, Chris Daly, Hugh O’Neill; Brian Murphy, Gary Twomey, Brian McCarthy.
Subs used: John Daly, Anthony Quinn.
Referee: Alan Long (Argideen Rangers).