Bantry Blues 1-9
GER McCARTHY REPORTS
BANTRY Blues have been relegated to the third tier of Cork football.
The two-time county senior football champions fell through the trap door from the Cork Senior A grade to premier intermediate level following a disappointing seven-point defeat to Bishopstown in Newcestown last Saturday.
Chief architect of Bantry’s downfall was veteran Bishopstown forward Denis Crowley. Bantry simply couldn’t handle the full-forward who set up the majority of his side’s scores and weighed in with three important second-half points.
But, most disappointingly of all, Bantry were off colour from the early stages of a must-win relegation play-off. They also managed to accrue a paltry 1-1 from open play. The Blues struggled to muster a response to their hungrier, more clinical opponents and could have no argument with the final outcome. Bantry manager Colm Cronin made no excuses for his side’s defeat.
‘We have no complaints about today’s result as we were well beaten,’ Cronin told The Southern Star.
‘From the word go, we just never got going. We didn’t play anything like we did against Mallow. I felt that if you don’t bring the intensity to this level, you are caught straightaway because you are facing good footballers all around you. We struggled today, no doubt about it, we struggled.’
Bishopstown took advantage of their opponent’s slow start to move 0-5 to 0-0 ahead inside the first seven minutes. Liam O’Driscoll, Darragh O’Connor, Paul O’Flynn points and two Simon Collins frees handed the city side the perfect start. Denis Crowley was involved in each of those scores and continued to cause havoc for the Bantry defence whenever in possession. Ruairí Deane (free) got the Blues on the scoreboard after ten minutes and it was 0-6 to 0-2 at the first water break after Deane (free) and Paul O’Flynn exchanged scores.
This relegation play-off was an ultra-physical battle with plenty of robust tackles and niggly off-the-ball collisions blighting an otherwise fine encounter. Ronan O’Mahony (Bantry) and Darragh O’Connor (Bishopstown) were black carded during a second quarter in which Paul Honohan scored a point prior to palming the ball into the net from a perfectly-weighted Denis Crowley pass. A late first-half scoring burst resulted in Tadhg Downey, Ruairí Deane (free) and Arthur Coakley (free) scores responded to by that man Denis Crowley who set up Simon Collins for two additional points to make it 1-9 to 0-5.
Bishopstown should have extended their advantage but were guilty of shooting wide on four consecutive occasions at the start of the second period. Once again, Crowley made his presence felt by fisting two points over the bar prior to converting a difficult free.
Bantry’s David Daly saw a point-blank shot superbly saved by Ken O’Halloran but it was a rare foray into the final third for a Bantry team struggling to make an impact. It took a terrific Arthur Coakley 44th minute goal to offer hope to Bantry’s supporters but the Blues still trailed 1-13 to 1-6 at the final water break.
Not even Dara Costello’s black card could prevent Bishopstown from controlling the closing stages. Coakley added another point after Bishopstown substitute Michael Nunan got his name on the scoreboard. The city men were not deterred by their numerical disadvantage as Paul O’Flynn added another point after Arthur Coakley converted a free. Bantry needed goals but failed to find a way past a well-organised Bishopstown defence unafraid to get physical whenever the need arose. A disjointed ending saw Arthur Coakley take his personal total to 1-5 from another free before Simon Collins, who had an excellent game, wrapped up Bishopstown’s merited 1-16 to 1-9 victory.
Right now, the immediate future is difficult to talk about having just suffered relegation but Bantry Blues must lean on their emerging talent if a return to the senior A grade is to be achieved.
‘There is definitely the talent here,’ Bantry manager Colm Cronin stated. ‘This was our fourth defeat in the senior A football championship this year so you can’t be saying we were unlucky in all of our games. We have to regroup. The players are there in Bantry but they know the level we have to aspire to be at if we want to play senior A football again.’
Scorers – Bishopstown: Simon Collins 0-6 (4f); Paul Honohan 1-1; Paul O’Flynn 0-3; Denis Crowley 0-3 (1f); Liam O’Driscoll, Darragh O’Connor, Michael Nunan 0-1 each. Bantry Blues: Arthur Coakley 1-5 (5f); Ruairí Deane 0-3 (3f); Tadhg Downey 0-1.
Bishopstown: Ken O’Halloran; Nathan Gough, Eoin Byrne, Michael Murphy; Michael Power, Liam O’Driscoll, Jamie O’Sullivan; Jack Murphy, Barry Murphy; Paul Honohan, Dara Costello (captain), Paul O’Flynn; Simon Collins, Denis Crowley, Darragh O’Connor. Subs: Michael Nunan for L O’Driscoll (17, inj), Mark Driscoll for J Murphy (36), Diarmuid Lester for D O’Connor (40), Levent Arslan for B Murphy (53), Colm O’Driscoll for D Crowley (59).
Bantry Blues: James Crowley; Tim Cronin, Ronan O’Mahony, Connie O’Leary; Eoin O’Shea, Kevin Coakley, Eoin Minihane; Seán O’Leary, Ruairí Deane; Steve Coughlan, David Daly (captain), Billy Foley; Shane Murray, Arthur Coakley, Tadhg Downey. Subs: Daragh McCarthy for S Murray (45), Seth Thornton for K Coakley (53), Cathal McCarthy for D Daly (55), Daniel Murray for T Downey (55).
Referee: Cathal McAllister (Aghada).