Bantry Blues 3-14
TOM LYONS REPORTS
THE bite is back in Bantry football – that’s the view of Bantry Blues manager Arthur Coakley after watching his men win the battle of the west on Saturday night.
It’s not often the footballers of Bantry head west to play a county championship game but such was the case when the immaculate new Páirc na hEadargóile in Adrigole was the venue for the clash of Bantry Blues and Castletownbere in Round 2A of the county premier intermediate football championship on Saturday evening last.
‘We’re in the quarter-final now, which gives us time to get some players back. If we had all our players, we’d be fairly decent. We have acquired a tag in recent seasons of being a bit soft and that’s not Bantry football. Now there’s a bit of bite back again,’ Arthur Coakley said afterwards.
Goals win games and Bantry managed three on this occasion, two in the first half and a vital third in the second half. The first arrived as early as the second minute when county player Ruairi Deane, named at full forward and operating on the forty, crashed an angled shot to the net.
The second goal, from the strong Tim Foley in the eighth minute, put the Blues, who were playing against the strong breeze, six points in front.
However, showing great resilience, the Beara men were level by half time, 2-6 to 1-9, their goal coming from the hard-working Andrew O’Sullivan in the 24th minute.
That was to be the high point of the Town challenge as Bantry, forced to field without the injured Graham Canty, the O’Leary brothers and Joe Downey, took complete control in the second half.
Their third goal, by the impressive Gavin Johnson in the 36th minute, really set them on their way.
‘We were down to the bare bones here with players missing – two lads are gone with cruciate damage, Graham (Canty) having a knee operation, Seánie (O’Leary) in America,’ Arthur Coakley explained.
‘It was a tough task coming down into Beara to take on the Town. We had a game plan and we worked very hard at it. We knew how good they could be. We had a 17-year-old, Shane McSweeney, marking Gary Murphy and he was outstanding, great pace and a tremendous prospect
‘We knew if we ran at them, it would cause problems. We did that in the second half and it was great football from the lads.
‘When it comes down to a local derby like this, to come into Beara and get a good win, that’s as good as it gets.’
Ruairi Deane’s opening goal in the second minute was an ideal start for Bantry and even though the Town recovered to share the next four points – Johnson and the lively Shane Keevers for the Blues and Reece Dillane and the pacey Richard Murphy for the Town – the Blues doubled their lead in the eighth minute when Tim Foley made no mistake from close range.
County player Gary Murphy, finding it hard to escape the clutches of young wing back Shane McSweeney, swapped points with the very effective Steven Coughlan before the Town finally began to seriously test the Bantry defence.
With Andrew O’Sullivan prominent at midfield and Dave Fenton, Richard Murphy and Liam Hanley prominent up front, the Beara men kicked points from Hanley, Fenton, free, and Richard Murphy to cut the gap to three.
Johnson and the irrepressible Niall Canty stretched it to five again but then came Andrew O’Sullivan’s goal in the 24th minute, deflected to the net, following another great fetch by Fenton. Quick points from Fenton and Richard Murphy, with tremendous blocking by the Town defence, saw the sides level before Deane and Fenton swapped points. It was 2-6 to 1-9 at the break.
It was the Blues who get the better restart when Tim Foley pointed a free and Gavin Johnson’s low shot squirted under the goalkeeper to the net. A further point from David Daly, who dominated midfield in the second period, had Bantry five ahead by the 37th minute before the free-flowing game took a messy turn with three black cards being handed out in the space of five minutes, Ronan O’Mahony and Daniel Murray for Bantry and the highly-influential Dave Fenton for the Town. Bantry’s Eoghan O’Shea was to follow five minutes later.
When football broke out again it was Bantry who dominated, with Deane and Daly on top at midfield, Canty, Tim Cronin and Shane McSweeney sealing off the defence and Steven Coughlan, Shane Keevers, Gavin Johnson and Tim Foley looking impressive in attack.
Some superb points from Deane, Kevin Coakley, Jack O’Neill, Coughlan and Keevers highlighted the Bantry dominance as they limited the Town to two late pointed frees from Gary Murphy in the second half. In the end there was no questioning the Blues’ right to claiming conquest of the West.
Bantry Blues: Ruairí Deane 1-3 (1f), Gavin Johnson 1-2, Tim Foley 1-1 (1f), Shane Keevers, Steven Coughlan (1f) 0-2 each, Niall Canty, Kevin Coakley, David Daly, Jack O’Neill 0-1 each.
Castletownbere: Andrew O’Sullivan 1-0, Richard Murphy, Dave Fenton (1f), Gary Murphy (2f) 0-3 each, Liam Hanley, Reece Dillane 0-1 each.
Bantry Blues: Donal Casey; Noel O’Flynn, Niall Canty, Connie O’Leary; Shane McSweeney, Tim Cronin, Kevin Coakley; Ronan O’Mahony, David Daly; Steven Coughlan, Ruairi Deane, Shane Keevers; Gavin Johnson, Tim Foley, Arthur Coakley.
Subs: Daniel Murray for A Coakley (16), Eoghan O’Shea for R O’Mahony (black card, 36), Jack O’Neill for D Murray (black card, 40), Owen O’Flynn for E O’Shea (black card, 47).
Castletownbere: Dean Hegarty; David Torres, David Murphy, Oliver Byrne; Lorcan Harrington, Shane McCarthy, Trevor Collins; Andrew O’Sullivan, Declan Dunne; Richard Murphy, Dave Fenton, James Harrington; Gary Murphy, Liam Hanley, Reece Dillane.
Subs: Gerard Healy for D Fenton (41), Ciarán Murphy for O Byrne (50).
Referee: David Murnane (Macroom).