Ahán Gaels 2-10
TOM LYONS REPORTS
CHARLIE Long was the spark that fired Bandon to victory over Ahán Gaels in this Clona Milk U21A hurling championship round two game in Newcestown on Good Friday evening.
Quiet enough in the first half when he registered only two points, the Bandon centre forward thundered into the game after the break, totally dominating play around midfield and took time to raise seven white flags, five from play.
With strong midfielders, Cathal Lynch and Dylan O’Donovan, also opening their shoulders, the Lilywhites took complete control as the second half wore on.
‘We were very slow to get going and struggled in the first half,’ admitted Bandon manager Finbarr Lynch. ‘Ahán were much more eager and fired-up and our touch just wasn’t there. The second half saw a huge improvement when we took control around the middle with Charlie (Long) playing a blinder. We were unlucky not to beat Ibane Gaels in round one and were very disappointed with our first half tonight.
‘We have only a week now to get ready for the semi-final against reigning champions, Newcestown, and that is definitely going to be a tough one.’
Ahán, missing a number of players and playing their third game in the championship, looked the better side for most of the first half. In full forward Darren O’Donovan, they had one of the most dangerous forwards on the field. Points from O’Donovan and nippy Ian O’Donovan sandwiched a Paul Hartnett point before O’Donovan raised the first green flag of the game in the sixth minute from a penalty, following a foul on himself.
Two minutes later the green flag was waving at the other end of the pitch when goalkeeper Eoin McCarthy, who made some marvellous saves throughout the game, saved a rasper from Jake Lillis only to see Stephen Collins finishing the rebound to the net. Still, Ahán took the game to their stronger opponents. Two points from O’Donovan had them three in front by the end of the first quarter, 1-4 to 1-1.
There was an improvement from Bandon in the second quarter with corner forwards Jake Lillis and Rory Desmond causing problems for the Ahán full-back line. When a Lillis point was followed by a goal from Desmond in the 18th minute, the Lilywhites were in front for the first time and were not to be headed again. Charlie Long finally began to show the form that has made him a Bandon senior and he had two points before the break, with another from lively winger Paul Hartnett, but Ahán answered with scores from the combative Conor O’Sullivan and O’Donovan. Ahán were only two behind at half time, 2-5 to 1-6.
The third quarter was when the game was really decided when Bandon hit the ground running and played some sparkling hurling, led brilliantly by Long. Points from Long (3), Stephen Collins, Rory Desmond, wing back Tony Quinn and Cathal Lynch were supplemented by a third Bandon goal in the 38th minute, from Jake Lillis. The winners led by 3-13 to 2-6 at the end of the third quarter, Ahán’s only score coming in the 35th minute when O’Donovan lashed home his second goal.
The last quarter was very evenly contested as Ahán went down with all guns firing. The teams shared eight points in that quarter with Long (3) and Lillis scoring for Bandon and O’Donovan (3) and Shane Corcoran replying for Ahán.
Scorers - Bandon: Charlie Long 0-9 (2f); Jake Lillis 1-2; Rory Desmond, Stephen Collins 1-1 each; Paul Hartnett 0-2; Cathal Lynch, Tony Quinn 0-1 each. Ahán Gaels: Darren O’Donovan 2-7 (1-0 pen, 1f); Ian O’Donovan, Shane Corcoran, Conor O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Bandon: Cian O’Farrell; Oisín O’Mahony, Gavin O’Brien, Ralph O’Mahony; Tony Quinn, Cian Burke, Conor Twomey; Cathal Lynch, Dylan O’Donovan; Paul Hartnett, Charlie Long, Oisín Doyle; Rory Desmond, Stephen Collins, Jake Lillis. Subs: Shane McCarthy for R O’Mahony (50), Dylan Barr for C Lynch (57), Hugh O’Mahony for R Desmond (57).
Ahán Gaels: Eoin McCarthy; Adrian Crowley, Eoghan Collins, Brian Crowley; Olan Corcoran, James Crowley, Jack Hilliard; Eoghan Cullinane, Conor O’Sullivan; Robbie Lucey, Shane Corcoran, Darren O’Neill; Ian O’Donovan, Darren O’Donovan, James Walsh. Sub: Jason O’Brien for J Walsh (50).
Referee: Shane Scanlon (Newcestown).