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Bantry Blues advance to Carbery U21A football final after surviving late Clonakilty rally

February 16th, 2024 10:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Bantry Blues advance to Carbery U21A football final after surviving late Clonakilty rally Image
The Bantry Blues team that defeated Clonakilty in the Carbery U21A FC semi-final. Back from left, Mark Óg O’Sullivan, Fionn O’Donovan, John Crowley, Owen O’Neill, Dara Sheedy, Fionn Barry, Michael O’Donovan, Oran Wiseman, James Crowley, Conor Cronin, Dara McCarthy and Stephen O’Donovan. Front from left, Ordhan Crowley, Eli Reynolds, Luke Salter-Townsend, Jack Sheedy, Ruairi O’Shea, Paddy Cronin, Conn O’Callaghan, Daithi Shiels, Daire Kingston and Cillian O’Brien.

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Bantry Blues 0-15

Clonakilty 2-6


WHERE lies the real Bantry Blues? That must be the question on Blues followers' lips as they prepare to meet Ibane Gaels in the Clóna Milk Carbery U21A football championship final this weekend. 

Is it the classy side whose high-quality, all-out blanket-style defence and possession football thwarted a fancied Clonakilty’s best attempts at scoring causing the Brewery Town to go an incredible 33 minutes scoreless at sunny Dunmanway last Sunday morning?

Or the side with just seven minutes remaining and enjoying a nine-point advantage of 0-14 to 0-5 who seemed to take their foot off the pedal, conceding 2-1 inside three minutes? 

It left the 2023 U21B champions hanging on and grateful to their goalkeeper Daire Kingston who brought off two magnificent saves in rapid succession to deprive a now rampant Clonakilty of victory.

The Blues were certainly glad of an injury-time free converted by one of their star players, Paddy Cronin, to calm the nerves and close out what seemed a formality a few minutes earlier.

‘We certainly took the foot off the pedal and will be severely punished in the final if we repeat that error. We are a young side with plenty of young and energetic committed players, but another lapse like that could prove fatal against Ibane,’ Bantry manager Ivan Kingston said.

‘We are eager to get up on that winning podium again. Ibane are our bogey team; I think we have yet to beat them in the championship, but we will give it our best shot. The last time we were in a final at this level was 2012 so we will need no motivation’.

The opening quarter was evenly contested, 0-2 apiece, Scores for Clonakilty coming from one of their better players Conor Daly, with Bantry goalkeeper Daire Kingston converting a 45 and star forward Paddy Cronin bisecting the uprights. Clonakilty shot two bad wides as Conor Cronin got a sublime Blues point. 

Jack and Des Sheedy were causing the Clon defence a lot of trouble, as both bisected the uprights. By the interval the victors enjoyed a five-point advantage, 0-8 to 0-3. After Luke Salter-Townsend had extended the winner’s tally, following proactive work by Fionn Barry, Clon were thrown a lifeline as they won a penalty.

Up stepped Conor Daly, but his shot was taken at the butt of an upright by the Bantry goalkeeper and the chance was gone. Dara Sheedy and Paddy Cronin had the scoreboard operator on overtime as the points flowed like confetti. It looked a lost cause, but in fairness to Clonakilty they refused to throw in the towel. Suddenly, it all clicked into place. 

Chris Kenneally billowed the net with a thundering drive and when Aaron Cullinane repeated the dose almost immediately, alarm bells were ringing in the Bantry camp. Anxious faces scanned watches as Darragh Gough got a sublime score, that late Paddy Cronin white flag an insurance score as relieved Bantry hung on. 


Scorers - Bantry Blues: Dara Sheedy 0-5 (1m, 1f); Paddy Cronin 0-5 (2f); Jack Sheedy 0-2; Luke Salter Townsend, Conor Cronin, Daire Kingston (45) 0-1 each.  Clonakilty: Darragh Gough, Conor Daly (3f) 0-3 each; Chris Kenneally, Aaron Cullinane 1-0 each.


Bantry Blues: Daire Kingston; Eli Reynolds, Conor Cronin, Ruari O’Shea; Dara McCarthy, Mark Óg O’Sullivan, Cillian O’Brien; Michael O’Donovan, John Crowley; Dara Sheedy, Jack Sheedy, Luke Salter Townsend; Fionn O’Donovan, Fionn Barry, Paddy Cronin. Subs: James Crowley for Eli Reynolds (42), Con O’Callaghan for Fionn O’Donovan (46), Eli Reynolds for Cillian O’Brien (50) Olan Wiseman for Luke Salter Townsend (52). 

Clonakilty: Cillian White; Seán Óg O’Flynn, Seán Coffey, Oran Blackburn; Matt Murphy, Liam Knowles, Shane O’Regan; Des Kenneally, Aaron Cullinane; Darragh Gough, Cian Ryan, Conor Daly; Fionn McCarthy, Chris Kenneally, Fergal Murphy. Sub: Gearóid Coleman for Cian Ryan (43).

Referee: Anthony O’Regan (Kilbrittain). 

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