Carrigaline and Rossa U21s must meet again
O'DONOVAN ROSSA 1-9
IT was entirely fitting that the honours were shared in an absorbing county under-21 football championship final at Pairc Ui Rinn last Sunday.
With both sides having given it their all in wet and windy conditions, which clearly militated against quality football, it would have been rough justice had either O'Donovan Rossa and Carrigaline been forced to come away empty-handed.
To say that the teams were evenly-matched would be an understatement, and it's a measure of the closeness of the exchanges throughout that there was never more than two points between them at any stage.
O'Donovan Rossa looked to be in trouble midway through the second half after Carrigaline received a major boost in the form of a goal by corner forward Cian O Floinn, to which wing forward Liam O'Regan added a point, leaving the South East side 1-7 to 0-8 to the good.
It would have been rough justice had either O'Donovan Rossa and Carrigaline been forced to come away empty-handed
On the trail of a first ever title at this level, it seemed as if Carrigaline, backed by a strong wind, might be ready to drive on in the last quarter, but O'Donovan Rossa got a lucky break two minutes later.
After Donal Óg Hodnett converted a difficult free into the wind, the referee, who was in consultation with his linesman at the time, ordered the free to be retaken, and Hodnett, instead of trying for a score directly, opted to play a short ball to Rob McCarthy
Surging forward to receive a return pass from McCarthy, Hodnett completed the move with a stunning goal and it meant that O'Donovan Rossa had regained the initiative approaching the last ten minutes.
To their credit, Carrigaline showed their character in recovering from that setback and, aided by points from Simon O'Brien and David Drake, they inched ahead again before Rob McCarthy brought O'Donovan Rossa back on terms in the 55th minute.
In a thrilling finalé, Killian McIntyre failed to convert a free for Carrigaline and Rob McCarthy shot wide with a chance from play at the other end, which ensured that the teams remained deadlocked at the finish.
O'Donovan Rossa made the better start, with wing forward Kevin Davis dispossessing his marker Sean Conlon to draw first blood in the opening minute.
After Conlon quickly atoned, putting the finishing touch to a good move involving David Drake and Stephen Gorman, and Drake added a point from a free, won by Gorman, O'Donovan Rossa bagged the next three scores, including a brace of tasty points from play by Thomas Hegarty and Kevin Davis.
Davis and Hegarty both opened brightly up front for the Skibbereen side, while Donal Og Hodnett processed a lot of ball when operating deep in the centre forward berth.
But Carrigaline applied the bulk of the pressure in the second quarter when Kevin Kavanagh and Sean Conlon showed up well at either side of Cian Barry in the half back line.
Instead of pursuing Donal Og Hodnett out the field, Barry opted to hold his ground at centre back, getting through a fair amount of effective covering in the process. The result was that O'Donovan Rossa struggled to get quality ball into their inside line of attack, where big David Shannon carried an obvious threat.
With Cian O Floinn, who was well policed by O'Donovan Rossa's Jack O'Driscoll, operating more or less as a third midfielder, Carrigaline benefited from the extra space in attack where Gorman, Drake, Simon O'Brien and especially Killian McIntyre were regularly seen to good effect.
But they promised more than they achieved up front, with Drake kicking three wides, two from placed balls, before McIntyre, fed by O'Brien, made it 0-4 to 0-3 in the 20th. minute.
McIntyre then turned provider for an equalising point from Drake, and Carrigaline had every reason to feel satisfied with the way things were shaping up after McIntyre pointed a free, won by O'Brien, with seven minutes to the interval.
O'Donovan Rossa lifted the siege before half time, with Ger Minihane and Shane Crowley making their presence felt at midfield, and Mark Collins, Daniel Hazel and Shane Hourihane also doing their bit to push them forward from the half back line.
Following good work by Donal Og Hodnett and Mark Collins, David Shannon posted an inspirational point from a difficult angle on the right, and they regained the lead through a Hodnett point from a free in the 26th minute.
They had a goal disallowed virtually on the stroke of half time, however, when David Shannon was adjudged to have impeded Carrigaline custodian Sean Mellett as the latter attempted to deal with a long delivery from midfielder Shane Crowley that went all the way to the net.
Due to resume against the wind, O'Donovan Rossa's 0-6 to 0-5 lead at the break hardly seemed sufficient to sustain them in the second half.
They restarted with full back Paudie Crowley teaming up with Shane Crowley at midfield, Ger Minihane going from there to centre back and Daniel Hazel taking over from Crowley at the edge of the square, but the changes didn't immediately have the desired effect.
O'Donovan Rossa did stretch the gap to two points, courtesy of Donal Og Hodnett's converted free, won by the hard-working Rob McCarthy, inside 32 minutes, but they were fortunate to remain in front after David Drake was off-target with a couple of good chances from play for Carrigaline.
Given the windy conditions, it was never going to be easy to kick scores, and Donal Og Hodnett also failed to convert a couple of frees for O'Donovan Rossa early in the second half.
David Drake, placed by Simon O'Brien, found his range to open Carrigaline's second half account in the 38th minute, but they gifted O'Donovan Rossa a score four minutes later when wing back Kevin Kavanagh's sideline kick went straight to Kevin Davis, who earned a free which Hodnett slotted over to make it 0-8 to 0-6.
It seemed as if the contest was about to swing in Carrigaline's favour after Killian McIntyre took a return pass from Kevin Kavanagh to set Cian O Floinn up for a goal in the 45th minute, but having stretched the gap to two points, they were rocked back on their heels by Donal Og Hodnett's cracking strike three minutes later.
They recovered well, however, with Simon O'Brien - sent clear after Killian McIntyre, who had an excellent match, neatly flicked the ball in his path - bringing them back on terms before David Drake pushed them ahead in the 52nd minute.
But O'Donovan Rossa, for whom David Hazel at full back, Shane Hourihane at wing back, Shane Crowley at midfield, and the ever-industrious Donal Og Hodnett and Rob McCarthy in attack, arguably earned the main plaudits in the second half, gamely stuck to their task on the run-in.
McCarthy ensured that they emerged from the fray with their hopes of a third title intact when working hard to land a levelling point after an effort by Kevin Davis had rebounded off the upright in the closing minutes
Scorers - O'Donovan Rossa: D Og Hodnett 1-4, 0-4 frees, K Davis 0-2, T Hegarty, D Shannon and R McCarthy 0-1 each
Carrigaline: D Drake 0-4, 0-1 free, C O'Floinn 1-0, K McIntyre 0-2, 0-1 free, S Conlon, L O'Regan and S O'Brien 0-1 each.
O'Donovan Rossa: R Price, R Hodnett, P Crowley, J O'Driscoll, M Collins, D Hazel, S Hourihane, S Crowley, G Minihane, K Davis, D Og Hodnett, J O'Donovan, R McCarthy, D Shannon, T Hegarty. Subs, E O'Donovan for R Hodnett.
Carrigaline: S Mellett, D Spillane, C Allen, C McSweeney, K Kavanagh, C Barry, S Conlon, W Bruton, S Dwane, L O'Regan, D Drake, S Gorman, K McIntyre, S O'Brien, C O'Floinn.
Referee - D Murnane (Macroom).