Rossas get it right this time
O'DONOVAN Rossa produced a very accomplished performance to annex the Weeshie Murphy Memorial Cup following this three point victory achieved against Carrigaline in the U21 A county final replay played in Páirc Uí Rinn last Sunday afternoon.
O'Donovan Rossa significantly improved from their below par display the previous Sunday to produce a very competent and assured performance which enabled them secure their fourth U21 county title and their first championship crown in twenty one years. This much vaunted Skibbereen U21 outfit have enjoyed a remarkable season, they have entertained the purists all season with their attractive brand of fast, fluid and cohesive football style which has enabled them see off the challenge of seven teams to propel them to a richly deserved county championship success following this enthralling victory over the South East champions.
This Skibbereen triumph is a fitting reward for their dedicated underage coaches who have expertly guided these players from an early age to ensure the renowned Rossa conveyor belt for producing young talented players continues. Skibb will hope these players will progress to enjoy successful playing careers with their senior team and if carefully nutured these players should enjoy a productive club career at senior level.
This Skibb success was based upon a well-organised defence who kept a slick Carrigaline attack at bay, whilst their forward sextet excelled throughout with their link up play and finishing ability brilliant throughout. Skibb recovered from a tentative start to enjoy a very bright opening half which enabled them hold a four point advantage at the interval. Skibb pushed home their advantage at the start of the second half with the introduction of Jack O'Donovan adding significantly to their attacking options to move seven points clear with thirteen minutes remaining. Carrigaline finished strongly in an enthralling finale but could not penetrate a resolute and disciplined Skibb defence for whom ace corner backs Eoin O'Donovan and Jack O'Driscoll in particular excelled. Carrigaline fought gallantly to the end and were rewarded for their tenacity when Bruton netted deep into injury time but the goal served only to act as mere consolation for the South East team appearing in their first ever county U21 final.
Carrig did not enjoy much luck on the day (they hit the cross-bar on three occasions in the first 18 minutes) and they will rue their wasteful finishing in front of goal, especially from set-plays, but they could not repel a ravenous Skibb outfit who improved substantially from their subdued performing in the drawn encounter.
This Skibb success was based upon a well-organised defence who kept a slick Carrigaline attack at bay
Skibb were far more clinical, balanced and purposeful in attack whilst Carrig suffered due to their over-reliance for scores on ace trio Simon O'Brien, David Drake and Killian McIntyre. Skibb who have ten of their starting team eligible for next year's U21 championship campaign will harbour genuine aspirations of mounting a successful campaign again next season. The immediate focus for their players now is the forthcoming senior championship clash against Castlehaven and this county success will serve as a major filip to the club. A number of this successful Skibb team can now expect to feature prominently in next year's Cork U21 football team following a series of inspirational performances all season.
Carrigaline started brightly with impressive full forward Simon O'Brien opening their account in the first minute following good approach play from Wayne Bruton and David Drake. Carrigaline subsequently went twenty minutes without adding to their tally as a purposeful Skibb asserted their superiority on proceedings shooting six successive points per Rob McCarthy, Kevin Davis (2), Thomas Hegarty, Shane Crowley (an excellent long range point) and towering full forward David Shannon who led the line superbly throughout. Skibb were far more assured and confident when attacking whilst Carrig in stark contrast were ponderous and slow when they surged forward thus allowing the Skibb defence sufficent time to regroup and organise which they did very successfully to repel the Carrig attack on a regular basis.
David Drake who featured prominently throughout registered Carrig's second point after 21 minutes following good approach play from Cian O Floinn but this score was quickly negated by classy Skibb centre forward Donie Óg Hodnett who converted a close range free. The exchanges were quick and frantic with play moving from end to end with a breakneck intensity as the game developed into a pulsating encounter. Drake added his second point following good link up play featuring Stephen Gorman and Killian McIntyre. Skibb quickly reinstated their five point lead following a superb point from an acute angle from David Shannon after a move initiated by impressive corner back Eoin O'Donovan deep in his own half. Carrigaline reduced the deficit to four points at the interval following a Killian McIntyre point to ensure a thrilling second half lay in prospect.
Skibb made a number of positional switches at the interval with Jack O'Donovan (who made an impressive contribution coming in at right corner forward) whilst Ger Minihane moved to right half back and Donie Óg Hodnett and Paudie Crowley traded places respectively. Donie Óg subsequently thundered into the game with his precise deliveries and exquisite passing range ensuring the Skibb forwards received a plentiful supply of ball. Rob McCarthy and David Drake swapped points for their respective teams to maintain the status quo but Skibb were now firmly established in the ascendency with their half back link trio of Ger Minihane, Daniel Hazel and Mark Collins the launch pad for a plethora of Skibb attacks.
A notable feature of the Skibb game was their strong work ethic so prevalant throughout their team which was best epitomised by Kevin Davis who underlined his immense value to the team with another brilliant performance. Donie Óg Hodnett, Jack O'Donovan, Thomas Hegarty (who wisely opted to fist over) added three consecutive Rossa points to move them into a seemingly convincing seven point lead with thirteen minutes remaining. The redeployment of Wayne Bruton to a full forward role in the closing stages had the desired effect for Carrig who laid siege to the Skibb goal in an enthralling finale. Cork minor Kevin Kavanagh now operating in a midfield role played a key role in inspiring the Carrig revival in the closing stages. Bruton with a brace and Drake from a free added three points to reduce the deficit to four points with eight minutes remaining.
The tension in a gripping finale was palpable as Carrig laid seige to the Skibb goal. Skibb always posed a threat on the counter-attack and Skibb captain Rob McCarthy flashed a shot inches past the post before he notched his third point before ace forward David Shannon moved Skibb six points ahead finishing off good approach play from Jack O'Donovan and Thomas Hegarty.
Carrig were rewarded for their gallant efforts when Burton netted deep into injury time following a delicate chip over the advancing Ryan Price after he ghosted in behind a static Rossa defensive cover to increase the tension for an increasingly anxious Rossa outfit. Skibb held out to secure a deserved victory which they hope signals a revival in their club fortunes following this hard fought U21 county final triumph.
Inspirational captain Rob McCarthy was presented with the Weeshie Murphy Memorial Cup following the game by County Board chairman Jerry O'Sullivan, sparking euphoric scenes of jubilation amongst the large Skibbereen contingent who lauded their all-conquering footballing heroes.
Scorers - O'Donovan Rossa: Rob McCarthy 0-3, David Shannon 0-3, Thomas Hegarty 0-2, Kevin Davis 0-2, Donie Óg Hodnett 0-2, 0-1 free, Shane Crowley 0-1. Carrigaline:Wayne Bruton 1-2, David Drake 0-4, 0-1 free, Simon O'Brien, Killian McIntyre 0-1 each.
O'Donovan Rossa: Ryan Price, Jack O'Driscoll, Richard Hodnett, Eoin O'Donovan, Shane Hourihane, Daniel Hazel, Mark Collins, Paudie Crowley, Shane Crowley, Kevin Davis, Donie Óg Hodnett, Ger Minihane, Rob McCarthy, David Shannon, Thomas Hegarty. Subs used: Jack O'Donovan, Denis O'Regan, Hughie Leonard, Jonathan Davis.
Carrigaline: Sean Mellett, David Spillane, Chris Allen, Cillian McSweeney, Kevin Kavanagh, Cian Barry, Sean Conlon, Wayne Bruton, Stephen Dwayne, Liam O'Regan, David Drake, Stephen Gorman, Killian McIntyre, Simon O'Brien, Cian O Floinn. Sub used:
Referee: Niall Barrett, Carrigtwohill.
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