Bantry Blues 3-11
TOM LYONS REPORTS
THEY dubbed it ‘The Battle of the Bay’ – and what a war it was under the searing sun in Adrigole.
Both Bantry Blues and Castletownbere had won their opening Group B games in the Bons Secours Premier IFC, and their clash went right to the wire.
The Blues emerged winners with an injury-time point from Daniel Murray.
The Town looked the better side in the first quarter, racing into a four-point lead before Blues worked their way into the contest.
An opportunist goal from Ruairí Deane gave them the lead for the first time in the 30th minute. It was all square at half time, 1-6 to 0-9, Bantry fortunate to be in that position.
‘It was hot out there and it was heart-in-the-mouth stuff,’ said an exhausted Bantry mentor Arthur Coakley.
‘When we did get going we showed some flashes of great football but to score three goals and then give away five points in a row?’
The third quarter saw Bantry grabbing control as they upped the pace in the fierce heat. Two excellent goals by Paddy Cronin and Arthur Coakley gave the Blues a six-point lead.
It looked like Bantry’s day but the final quarter produced a remarkable recovery by the Beara men.
Six points without reply had the Town supporters in full voice as their team drew level with a Daniel Hanley point in the 56th minute.
It was odds-on a Town win at that stage, but, somehow, Bantry found energy in the dying minutes. After the sides swapped points, the decisive say went to Bantry’s Daniel Murray when he fisted over the crossbar. Bantry took the bragging rights as champions of Bantry Bay and the win puts them into the knock-out stages with one game to spare.
‘Sean O’Leary had a great game in the middle of the field for us. We had Kevin Harrington back after a while away, a real warrior and he was outstanding,’ Arthur Coakley explained.
Gary Murphy was the stand-out figure in the first half for the Town as he scored six superb points, four from play, and Bantry had no answer to his talent. He hit three in the opening quarter, with Tomás Murphy and Fintan Fenner (free) adding two more. Bantry’s only reply came from Daniel Murray and it was the dominant Town in front by 0-5 to 0-1.
Driven on by hard-working midfielder Sean O’Leary, Bantry began their comeback with points from Murray and the quiet Ruairi Deane.
The Town responded with a superb pair of points from Gary Murphy before O’Leary pointed a free and Murray hit the Town post.
Shane Murray brought off a great save from Town full forward Tomás Murphy, and we saw some great long-range points as Gary Murphy and Arthur Coakley swapped scores.
Bantry were grateful to be only two behind as half time approached but in the 30th minute they poached a goal when Ruairí Deane availed of a quickly-taken free to palm the ball to the net.
Amazingly, the Blues were in front after all the good work by the Town who managed a pointed free from Fintan Fenner to tie the scores at half time, 1-6 to 0-9.
It was all to play for in the second half. Bantry grabbed the initiative with points from Kevin and Arthur Coakley but the Town levelled with scores from Gary Murphy and impressive sub Jason Walsh.
Bantry struck a huge blow in the 38th minute with a cracking goal from Paddy Cronin. Even though Murphy replied with a Town point, the Blues were in again in the 43rd minute when Sean O’Leary and Shane Keevers set up Arthur Coakley for a really cute goal. When he followed with a pointed free, the Blues were six to the good and cruising to victory.
Whether it was a black card for David Daly, the fierce heat or taking the foot off the pedal, Bantry lost their way in the last quarter with the Town taking control of the middle third.
Five points from Harrington, O’Sullivan, Walsh and Fenner (2) reduced the gap to a single point before Daniel Hanley kicked the levelling points.
Maybe a draw would have been a fair result at that stage but Arthur Coakley shoved Bantry in front again in the 57th minute, their first score in 12 minutes, with Ruairi Deane at last showing his real form. Fenner kicked a fine free to level again and both sides would gladly have settled for a draw. It was not to be as Bantry had one more trick up their sleeve and Murray became the late hero with his winning point.
‘We’re in a good position now in the group and two wins after last season’s disaster is a big bonus for us,’ Coakley added, as attention now turns to the final round of crunch games.
Scorers - Bantry Blues: Arthur Coakley 1-4 (1f); Ruairí Deane 1-1; Paddy Cronin 1-0; Daniel Murray 0-3, Kevin Coakley 0-2, Sean O’Leary (1f) 0-1. Castletownbere: Gary Murphy 0-8 (3f); Fintan Fenner 0-5 (4f); Jason Walsh 0-2; Tomás Murphy, Daniel Hanley, James Harrington, Andrew O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Bantry Blues: Shane Murray; Seth Thornton, Tim Cronin, Cathal Power; Kevin Harrington, David Daly, Fionn K Barry; Eoghan Minihane, Sean O’Leary; Ruairí Deane, Kevin Coakley, Shane Keevers; Daniel Murray, Arthur Coakley, Paddy Cronin. Sub: Stephen Coughlan for F Barry (35).
Castletownbere: Chris O’Donoghue; Lorcan Harrington, Declan Dunne, Jonathan Rosales; Joe O’Neill, Shane McCarthy, Trevor Collins; Andrew O’Sullivan, Fintan Fenner; Dave Fenton, Ollie Byrne, Daniel Hanley; Gary Murphy, Tomás Murphy, Lee Kelly. Subs: Jason Walsh for D Fenton (ht), James Harrington for O Byrne (38), Billy Murphy for T Murphy (45), Reece Dillane for J Walsh (62).
Referee: John Ryan, Macroom.