Macroom finish with a flourish
Bantry Blues 1-9
A MARVELLOUS rally in the closing ten minutes and a sparkling second quarter were the main reasons why Macroom emerged winners of this cracking County Premier Intermediate Football Championship game in ideal conditions in Béal Átha'n Gaorthaidh on Saturday evening last.
This was indeed a game to thrill the neutrals and to give the supporters from both sides heart attacks as first Macroom and then Bantry seemed to have it won but there was yet another twist in the tail as Macroom came from two points down in the closing ten minutes to register the last four scores and win by two points.
Both sides played some sparkling football during the hour, with stars galore on both teams, and the game was played in the best of spirits from start to finish despite the championship fervour of the exchanges at times. Some of the points were out of the top drawer and both defences also covered themselves in glory, while, at midfield, we had the spectacle of a great clash between county players Graham Canty and Fintan Goold. The Macroom man looked stronger in the air but the Bantry man used all his craft to dominate in general exchanges.
There was nothing between the sides in the first quarter, with Bantry looking slightly the better side, thanks to great work from Mark Delaney at wing back, Graham Canty at midfield and Ruairí Deane at wing forward. Fintan Goold, who started the game at centre back but later moved to midfield, and Declan Barron, again the Blues' best forward on the day, swapped early frees, and Michael O'Sullivan shoved Bantry in front with the first point from play.
Bantry, beginning to dominate around the middle of the pitch, nearly hit the net in the seventh minute when the outstanding Delaney soloed 60m only to see his rasping shot brilliantly saved by Macroom goalie, James O'Connell. Despite their dominance Bantry were finding it difficult to make headway against a lively Macroom defence, in which full back, Eoin O'Mahony, was in commanding form all through, with good assistance from Peter Lynch and Rory Buckley.
Olan Murphy levelled the scores for the second time as Macroom were also finding it difficult to make headway in attack. Declan Barron, play, and Fintan Goold, a superb free from an acute angle, had the sides level for the third time, 0-3 each, by the 13th minute, but when Brendan Lynch kicked a fine point to put Macroom in front at the end of the first quarter, it signalled a take-over by the Macrompians, with the switch of Goold to midfield being vital.
It was all Macroom for the next ten minutes with all three Goold brothers prominent, as they kicked four unanswered points in a row to take a firm grip on the game. Andrew Hegarty pumped his fist as his shot sailed between the posts from way out on the wing, David Goold, improving with every passing minute, cut through for his first point, his brother, John, also landed his first of three, and when hard-working Cork panellist, Seán Kiely, split the uprights, Macroom were five to the good, and in complete control.
Shell-shocked Bantry did manage the last score of the half, a point from a Michael O'Sullivan free, but Macroom, leading by 0-8 to 0-4 at the break, looked odds-on winners as they retired to the dressing-room.
When David Goold kicked the opening score of the second half, we waited for the floodgates to open but Bantry, who had replaced three of their starting forwards, turned the game on its head in the following fifteen minutes as the subs made a huge contribution. Macroom supporters weren't too worried as Fintan Goold, free, answered a point from Mark Delaney, flying at wing back, but when Seán Kiely hit the upright, the third Macroom player to do so, the game began to swing Bantry's direction.
With Delaney, Neil Canty, Donagh O'Mahony and Kevin Harrington pushing forward from defence and massing well when under pressure, Canty dominating midfield and Declan Barron, John Harrington, Gavin O'Shea and Jeremy Canty at last making inroads in attack, the Blues swept forward in waves of attacks.
A point from Harrington and three in a row from the rampant Barron, two superb efforts from play, cut the lead to a single point against a Macroom side which seemed to have lost all its drive.
When Mark Delaney burst forward to set up sub, Jeremy Canty, for the only goal of the game in the 48th minute, the Blues, 1-9 to 0-10 in front, really had the bit between their teeth and Macroom seemed helpless to stop them. Amazingly, they weren't to score again.
Once more the game changed as the Macroom defence, inspired by the outstanding Eoin O'Mahony at full back, began to get to grips with the Bantry forwards, David and John Goold re-emerged as prominent figures and Philip Corrigan was playing a lot of ball around the middle.
The game was scoreless, and hung delicately balanced, for five minutes before John Goold kicked a vital point in the 53rd minute.
This seemed to inspire the Mid-Cork side and from then to the finish there was only one team in it as the winners upped the pace and surged for the winning tape.
Philip Corrigan levelled the game with five minutes remaining and maintaining the pressure against a tiring Blues, Brendan Hegarty and John Goold kicked the two winning points before the referee's whistle brought a top-class encounter to a finish.
Macroom now await the winner of the Clyda v Mallow game, which finished level last weekend, in the quarter-final.
Referee: Ger Harrington, Carrigaline.
It was our first trip to Béal Átha'n Ghaorthaidh in a long time and full credit to the local club who have done a marvellous job on the pitch and facilities.
Scorers Macroom: John Goold 0-3, Fintan Goold 0-3 frees, David Goold and Andrew Hegarty 0-2 each, Seán Kiely, Brendan Lynch, Philip Corrigan and Olan Murphy 0-1 each. Bantry: Declan Barron 0-5, 0-2 frees, Jeremy Canty 1-0, Michael O'Sullivan 0-2, 0-1 free, Mark Delaney and John Harrington 0-1 each.
Macroom: James O'Connell, Peter Lynch, Eoin O'Mahony, Rory Buckley, Gerard Angland, Fintan Goold, Kieran Murphy, Philip Corrigan, David Goold, Brendan Lynch, Seán Kiely, Ivan Casey, Andrew Hegarty, John Goold, Olan Murphy. Subs: Stephen Casey, Patrick Lucey.
Bantry Blues: Danny Murray, Kenneth Deane, Donagh O'Sullivan, Neil Canty, Joe Downey, Kevin Harrington, Mark Delaney, Pat Daly, Graham Canty, Ruairí Deane, Michael O'Sullivan, Shane O'Neill, Declan Barron, Stephen Coughlan, Shane Drummy. Subs: John Harrington, Gavin O'Shea, Jeremy Canty.
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