Ahán Gaels 0-14
Bantry Blues 1-8
JOHN MURPHY REPORTS
THE Ahán Gaels football bandwagon rolled onwards at Dunmanway last Sunday as they claimed the scalp of Bantry Blues in this absorbing Clona Milk U21A FC quarter-final clash.
What made this triumph all the more remarkable was that the Gaels – who beat Ibane Gaels in the preliminary round – had been literally blown away inside the opening eight minutes of the game, falling behind by four points, 1-2 to 0-1.
Bantry had raced out of traps and with the Foley brothers, Billy and Tim, Ronan O’Mahony, Shane McSweeney and top scorer Arthur Coakley on the front foot, they cut open the winner’s defence at will.
Billy Foley set-up full forward Jack McCarthy and when the latter was grounded, he duly picked himself up and dispatched the penalty with aplomb.
Serious Gaels remedial defensive structure was required, but as the Buttimer duo, Dylan Scannell, Cathal Mangan, Gavin Ahern and the towering Alan O’Sullivan warmed to their task, the Blues forward momentum waned.
Granted, when in possession Bantry looked dangerous, but with the bulk of the chances falling at the other end, and Matthew Draper slipping over a free, by the 27th minute it was the status quo that prevailed, 1-2 to 0-5, lovely scores by Brian Everard, Jamie Lucey and the unerring Stephen Moore completing a remarkable turnaround.
Darren O’Donovan pointed to edge the Gaels ahead at the break, 0-6 to 1-2.
Jack Hurley stretched the lead early in the second half beore the tireless Arthur Coakley got one back in the 34th minute for Bantry following a deft pass by Ronan O’Mahony.
Draper and Tim Foley exchanged frees as what followed was nip and tuck, both teams trading points.
However, with a now dominant Gaels midfield combination, they began to pull away and with Lucey, Hurley, Draper, Everard, Moore and Darren O’Donovan in devastating form up front, there was no stopping the victors.
By the 60th minute it was done and dusted, 0-14 to 1-5, a late flurry by Bantry Blues that yielded points by Tim Foley (45) and a brace by Coakley merely putting a degree of respectability on final proceedings.
‘We knew this was never going to be more than a 50/50 clash against a serious outfit like Bantry,’ Ahán Gaels manager Daniel Cronin said.
‘We were in trouble after conceding that early goal but these lads have the mentality, the grit to drive on and they proved that again today.
‘We missed a lot of chances in both halves that could be costly against Carbery Rangers – they’ll be another big challenge. We need to be more clinical with our goal chances too and we’ll need them against Ross.’
Ahán Gaels: Stephen Moore 0-5 (4f, 1 45), Matt Draper 0-3 (2f), Darren O’Donovan, Jamie Lucey 0-2 each, Jack Hurley, Brian Everard 0-1 each.
Bantry Blues: Arthur Coakley 0-5 (1f), Tim Foley 0-3 (2f, 1 45), Jack McCarthy 1-0 pen.
Ahán Gaels: David Cronin; Gavin Ahern, Sean Buttimer, Cian Buttimer; Alan O’Sullivan, Dylan Scannell, Cathal Mangan;Billy O’Brien, Gearóid O’Donovan; Stephen Moore, Matthew Draper, Brian Everard; Jamie Lucey, Jack Hurley, Darren O’Donovan.
Sub: Ryan Scannell for Darren O’Donovan (57).
Bantry Blues: Michael Casey; Robin McCarthy, Eoin O’Shea, Eric Dowling; Shane Keevers, Shane McSweeney, Billy Foley; Tim Foley, Ronan O’Mahony; Gavin Johnson, Arthur Coakley, Jack O’Neill; Shane Murray, Jack McCarthy, Daniel Murray.
Subs: Eoin O’Flynn for Eric Dowling (ht), Eoin Minihane for Gavin Johnson (47).
Referee: Joe Kelly (Dohenys).