00:00 Saturday 02 July 2011  Written by West Cork Gael

Champions Mathnas still in the mix

Bandon 1-9

Diarmuid

Ó Mathúna 1-9

BY WEST CORK GAEL

A DRAW proves a fair result, as eagerly awaited clash between Bandon and Diarmuid Ó Mathúna ends in stalemate!

As it was at the beginning, so it turned out to be at the conclusion of this closely fought and exciting second round Kinetica South West Junior A Hurling Championship tussle between great rivals Bandon and Diarmuid Ó Mathúna played at Enniskeane on Friday evening of last week. Although the rain cascaded down all day long, the playing surface was in wonderful shape. Both sides had several opportunities to garner the laurels but will relish another chance to ply their wares in conditions more conducive to positive hurling.

Scarcely had the scattering of spectators taken suitable refuge from the unsavoury elements before scoring maestro himself, John Paul O'Callaghan, raised the green flag for the Castletownkenneigh brigade. In fact, a mere 21 seconds of play had elapsed when he cleverly collected a Tim Crowley delivery and unleashed a ferocious drive past Bandon keeper Stephen Murphy and high into the Bandon net. A dream start and given the fact that the 2010 champions faced the stiff breeze, surely a positive omen. But there are copious numbers of good hurlers sprinkled throughout this Bandon side and with Joe McCarthy, Kieran Doyle and Joe Harrington starring in defence and a positive platform provided by Vincent Goggin and the stylish Niall O'Rourke in the midfield fulcrum, Bandon reeled off six of the best between the fourth and 13th minutes during a purple patch of play. Granted, long serving Johnny O'Sullivan, experienced centre back Micheál Fehily, Seamus Nyhan and the Crowley clan comprising Tim, Patrick and Seán were all hurling neatly for Mathúnas, resulting in a lovely point by the latter after six minutes, but some of the Bandon scores at this juncture were out of the top drawer.

Chris Bonar, who did exceptionally well during the opening half, started and finished the tirade with two beauties. Kevin Walsh also pointed as did Kieran Doyle and outstanding corner back Joe McCarthy after two fabulous long-distance efforts. Another equally fine effort from corner forward Brian Kelly saw the Bandonians hit the front, 0-6 to 1-1, as the first quarter drew to a conclusion.

However, doughty championship campaigners Mathúnas have been down this road on many an occasion and with John Paul sending a mammoth free goalwards, Johnny O'Sullivan raced all of 40 metres to fashion a sublime reply. The Bandon backs now had a tendency to foul and with the move of Seán Crowley to the middle third beginning to pay possession dividends, John Paul rattled over two of the best from dead-ball situations in the 18th and 21st minutes.

The unfortunate Mark O'Leary for Bandon had departed the scene with an injury, but replacement Rob Wilmot slotted in neatly and was doing well to offset the threat posed by O'Callaghan. Positive too was the move of Mark Sugrue, who now assumed a roaming commission from his full-forward berth, and he set up Bonar to complete his hat-trick of white flags with a mighty score in the 21st minute.

Sugrue was now beginning to stamp an authority on proceedings, but Jerry Nyhan was keeping good tabs on him. However, after the talented Bandon star expertly converted a long-range free, he benefited from a stroke of luck just on the blow of half time. His huge free from the left touchline, all of 80 metres from goal, landed just in front of a crowded Mathúnas goalmouth, took a wicked bounce and flew past the reliable Johnny Nyhan for an extremely fortuitous Bandon goal.

Setting their stall out swiftly for the second half, Mathúnas resumed again with Johnny O'Sullivan and Seán Crowley in the middle of the park and Seamus Nyhan on the 'mark'. Soon afterwards young Mark Barrett entered the fray. Slowly but surely, they ate into the Bandon advantage. John Paul pointed the subsequent 65 after the Bandon defence were glad to divert a Fehily free to safety.

Donncha Burke was now on for Bandon and with Doyle, O'Rourke, Goggin in particular and Johnny O'Regan gaining more possession, they threatened, but failed, to make any great inroads into the Mathúnas defence. John Paul pointed another free and then Bandon shot two bad wides on the trot from Sugrue and O'Regan.

With play swinging swiftly from one end of the pitch to the other, Mathúnas took up the scoring baton and two fine points, one each by Tim and Patrick Crowley, the latter now calling the shots in the middle of the park, enabled them to draw level, 1-8 to 1-8, as the last quarter dawned.

Kieran Doyle was mopping up oceans of loose ball for Bandon and with Patrick O'Neill and Kevin Walsh excelling, Bandon got two more opportunities but failed to raise the white flag, though it must be said the second effort by Donncha Burke looked a real close one to call. The smell of a draw was in the air now, but when Johnny O'Sullivan hit a point that would grace any game from all of 70 metres, it looked curtains for Bandon. Niall O'Rourke was now hurling magnificently in the middle third and his superb play was instrumental in picking out Mark Sugrue, who shot Bandon's only but so important equalising second-half point after some 22 minutes had elapsed. With both teams going for the jugular, the last eight minutes were tense and exciting but devoid of further scores as both sides justifiably lived to fight another day.

Man of the match: Joe McCarthy, Bandon.

Scorers - Bandon: Mark Sugrue 1-2 (1-1 from frees), Chris Bonar 0-3, Kevin Walsh 0-1, Kieran Doyle 0-1, Joe McCarthy 0-1, Brian Kelly 0-1.

Diarmuid Ó Mathúna: John Paul O'Callaghan 1-4 (0-3 frees, 0-1 from 65), Johnny O'Sullivan 0-2, Tim Crowley 0-1, Patrick Crowley 0-1, Seán Crowley 0-1.

Bandon: Stephen Murphy, Joe McCarthy, Patrick O'Neill, Mark O'Leary, Kevin Walsh, Kieran Doyle, Joe Harrington, Niall O'Rourke, Vincent Goggin, Johnny O'Regan, Chris Bonar, Pat Prendergast, Brian Kelly, Mark Sugrue, Eoin Ryan. Subs: Rob Wilmot, Donncha Burke, James Dullea, Philip Murphy.

Diarmuid Ó Mathúna: Johnny Nyhan, Clinton O'Mahony, Aidan Collins, Aidan O'Leary, Jerry Nyhan, Micheál Fehily, Seamus Nyhan, Johnny O'Sullivan, John Crowley, David Nyhan, Seán Crowley, Tim Crowley, Johnny O'Donovan, Patrick Crowley, John Paul O'Callaghan. Subs: Michael Barrett, Brian Horgan, Seán Nyhan.

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