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McCarthy: Our big guns stood up to be counted again

September 28th, 2023 3:00 PM

By Tom Lyons

McCarthy: Our big guns stood up to be counted again Image
Castlehaven's Damien Cahalane makes his presence felt to Ballincollig's Peter O'Neill during the Bon Secours Cork PSFC quarter-final at Enniskeane on Sunday. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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Castlehaven 0-14   

Ballincollig 1-8 


‘WHERE were they in the first half?’ – that was the question on everybody’s lips at the end of a game that sparked into life in the last quarter when Ballincollig looked like grabbing a famous victory from the jaws of imminent defeat.

This quarter-final of the Bon Secours Premier SFC had started in driving rain and a gale of wind but Ballincollig, with the elements, failed miserably to come out of the traps as Castlehaven took control from the first whistle.

The rain relented after ten minutes but the wind remained as the Haven gave a display of copybook football, confining the opposition to two points from frees in that first half. Leading by 0-8 to 0-2 at the break, the Haven looked to have this game sewn up as they started the second half with the wind to their backs.

But what a transformation in the second half. It was now the Haven’s turn to switch off with Ballincollig thundering into the game. Point by point they cut back the lead, had two shots taken off the goal line, saw another goal effort diverted outside the post but drew level with three minutes left.

Castlehaven's Michael Hurley regains possession in a battle with Ballincollig's Sean Kiely.

All the momentum was with Ballincollig, but there’s a reason Castlehaven have just qualified for their fourth semi-final in a row. This Haven team is packed with leaders who never admit defeat.

Lifting their game when it mattered most, they retook the lead in the 59th minute and then added two more points in injury time to add yet another heroic chapter to the rich history of Castlehaven GAA.

‘Yes, we played great football in the first half, copybook football,’ said a relieved Haven manager, James McCarthy. ‘Our game plan worked to perfection and everything we tried came off. In fact, we could have been another few points further in front at half time.

‘What happened in the second half? The wind died for one thing and Michael Hurley’s black card had a big influence on the game – it was never a black card, never. As you can see the going was very soft and players were bound to tire.

‘It was our bench that made all the difference in the end. Conor O’Driscoll, in particular, was outstanding when he came on and changed the game around. Michael Hurley was flying after coming back on and his two points were vital. When needed most our big guns stood up to be counted again and we are delighted with this win.’

The first half is simply told. Against the wind and rain the Haven took control, driven on by Rory Maguire at full back, Damien Cahalane at centre back, Mark Collins and Conor Cahalane in midfield and an outstanding Brian Hurley up front. Points by Brian Hurley (2), Collins, Jack Cahalane and Seán Browne had them leading by 0-5 to nil at the end of the first quarter, by which time the rain had finally stopped.

The second quarter saw a slight improvement from the mid-Cork side and they finally got off the mark in the 22nd minute with a pointed free from Cian Dorgan. Points from Collins and Hurley (free and play) brought the Haven tally to eight points, with Ballincollig adding another Dorgan free.

Castlehaven's Cathal Maguire is held back by Ballincollig's Sean Dore during the Bon Secours Cork PSFC quarter-final at Enniskeane on Sunday.

Leading 0-8 to 0-2 and the wind to their backs in the second half, it appeared a cruise for the Haven but what a transformation came over Ballincollig. Grabbing control in the middle third, they surged forward in waves of attacks. After Dorgan (free) and Cathal Maguire swapped scores, Michael Hurley was shown black in the 39th minute and the Haven were struggling. Points from Seán Kiely and Dorgan had the score at 0-9 to 0-5 at the end of a lively third quarter.

What a final quarter. Darragh O’Mahony and Damien Cahalane swapped points but Andrew Whelton and Cahalane were heroes as they took balls off the goal line and the Haven goal lived dangerously. The Haven seemed to have weathered the Ballincollig storm when Jack O’Neill kicked a vital point, but Ballincollig kept coming and Cian Kiely kicked a point. The fat was really in the fire in the 56th minute when Dara Dorgan rattled the Haven net. A minute later, sub Tadhg O’Connell kicked the equaliser. The Haven were stunned.

Then we saw the heart of this Haven team, with sub Conor O’Driscoll making some vital turnovers and the returning Michael Hurley bursting onto the scene. A wonderful soaring point from 45 metres out on the wing by Hurley had the Blues back in front in the 59th minute. They drove for the winning line in injury time with further scores from Hurley and Jack Cahalane.

‘We have the Barr’s now in the semi-final and that is nothing new to us,’ said James McCarthy. ‘There is no doubt that they have the best panel of players in the championship, while we have very limited numbers. We had five players out there today who were playing Simcox football last year.. It’s going to be a tough assignment but they won’t like playing us and we will certainly make it tough for them.’



Castlehaven: Brian Hurley 0-4 (1f); Mark Collins, Michael Hurley, Jack Cahalane 0-2 each; Jack O'Neill, Damien Cahalane, Seán Browne, Cathal Maguire 0-1 each.

Ballincollig: Cian Dorgan 0-4 (3f); Dara Dorgan 1-0; Cian Kiely, Seán Kiely, Tadhg O’Connell, Darragh O’Mahony 0-1 each.


Castlehaven: Darragh Cahalane; Johnny O’Regan, Rory Maguire, Ronan Walsh; Thomas O’Mahony, Damien Cahalane, Cathal Maguire; Conor Cahalane, Mark Collins; Andrew Whelton, Brian Hurley, Seán Browne; Jack O’Neill, Jack Cahalane, Michael Hurley.

Subs: Conor O’Driscoll for S Browne (42), Robbie Minihane for J O’Neill (54), Conor Nolan for A Whelton (55), Ciarán O’Sullivan for R Walsh (62).

Ballincollig: Jack Gibbons; Colin Moore, Liam Jennings, Seán O’Donoghue; Cian Kiely, Harry Aherne, Mark Oldham; Seán Dore, Peter O’Neill; Seán Kiely, Liam O’Connell, Darragh O’Mahony; Rob Noonan, Cian Dorgan, Darren Murphy.

Subs: Tadhg O’Connell for R Noonan (ht), Seán O’Neill for D Murphy (ht), Dara Dorgan for S Dore (40), Evan Cooke for S Kiely (41), Seán Kiely for S O’Donoghue (50).

Referee: James O’Regan (Lough Rovers).

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