Brilliant Bantry Blues capture Carbery U21A title in style 

February 22nd, 2024 12:00 PM

By Tom Lyons

Mark Farr presents the Liam Farr Cup to Dara McCarthy, captain of the Bantry Blues team that defeated Ibane Gaels in the Clona Milk U21A FC final at Dunmanway on Sunday. Included are Aidan O'Rourke, chairman of the Carbery Board,and Josephine Dineen representing the competition sponsors Clona Milk. (Photo: Paddy Feen)

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Bantry Blues 4-10

Ibane Gaels 1-9 

TWELVE years after winning their last title, Bantry Blues were crowned Clona Milk U21A football champions after their goal-hungry forwards blitzed Ibane Gaels in the first half of the final.

The brilliant Blues scored four first-half goals in Dunmanway on Sunday. In truth, this game was over as a contest by half-time when they led by a massive 11 points – Bantry’s first-half display being as good as we have ever seen in the grade. 

2022 champions Ibane had no answer to the flying Bantry side in the first half. Even though they battled to the final whistle, dominating the second half with the breeze, they never really looked like hauling back the big lead. 

‘A great performance, I’m really proud of the boys. We nearly let it slip last week against Clon but we learned our lesson from that,’ said a delighted Bantry Blues’ manager Ivan Kingston. ‘We really worked hard for this one because we knew you can never ease off against any Ibane side. They have been our bogey team down the years and we knew we would get a real battle from them. 

‘Goals win games and we managed to get four in the first half. There was a touch of luck about a couple of them but you make your own luck in these finals. With the breeze in the first half we kept the pressure on them and when we kept the pace up, we knew we could score. The work rate was outstanding.’

Ibane Gaels' Michael Walsh is challenged by Bantry Blues' Paddy Cronin during the Clona Milk U21 A FC final at Dunmanway on Sunday.


The game opened at a cracking pace and the sides swapped points, an Olan O’Donovan pointed free for Ibane and a response from Stephen O’Donovan. The first of Bantry’s four goals arrived in the fifth minute when Paddy Cronin showed his predatory skills to billow the Ibane net, set up by Dara Sheedy. The Sheedy brothers, Jack and Dara, along with Cronin, were to cause havoc in the Ibane defence in the first half, well supported by Fionn O’Donovan, Fionn Barry and Luke Salter-Townshend in a lethal attack. 

Ibane responded with a fine Seán Walsh point but they were to become over-dependent on their talented corner-forward Olan O’Donovan for scores. With strong midfielders, Michael O’Donovan and John Crowley, supplying the forward sextet, Bantry kept the scoreboard busy. Three points in a row from Dara Sheedy, Paddy Cronin (free) and Fionn O’Donovan (free) opened a five-point gap before Olan O’Donovan pointed an Ibane free to end the first hectic quarter, 1-4 to 0-3. 

Dara Sheedy began the second quarter with a point before Lady Luck stepped – Jack Sheedy’s speculative shot ended up in the net in the 20th minute, with goalkeeper Cormac McCarthy slipping as he moved to block. Full back Conor Cronin got in on the scoring act when he answered a pointed free from Olan O’Donovan.

Incredibly, the closing five minutes of the half saw three green flags being raised. In the 25th minute a poor Ibane kickout was intercepted by Bantry wing back Dara McCarthy, who promptly lobbed the ball into the empty net to stretch the lead to 11 points. Ibane were thrown a lifeline three minutes later when Seán Walsh rose highest in the goalmouth to fist the ball to the Bantry net. Their delight was short-lived as a flowing Bantry movement between Paddy Cronin, Michael O’Donovan and Jack Sheedy saw the latter hit a rocket to the roof of the net from 30 metres. 

The Bantry Blues team celebrates after defeating Ibane Gaels in the Clona Milk U21A FC final at Dunmanway on Sunday. (Photo: Paddy Feen)


Although the breeze strengthened in the second half, Ibane had a mountain to climb, trailing by 4-6 to 0-4. They set about their task and had three points within six minutes from Olan O’Donovan (2) and Philip Flynn. Ibane built up the pressure in the third quarter but the Bantry defence – with Conor Cronin, Dara McCarthy and Mark Óg O’Sullivan prominent – proved equal to the challenge and limited the Ibane score to a further two points, from O’Donovan.

Bantry finally opened their second-half account in the 48th minute with a fine Jack Sheedy point and they finished in style with further points from Paddy Cronin and Dara Sheedy (2), as the Blues showed their battling qualities to finish the job in style. Crowned U21B winners in December, Bantry are now U21 champions, successive triumphs for the Blues.


Scorers - Bantry Blues: Jack Sheedy 2-1; Paddy Cronin 1-2 (1f); Dara Sheedy 0-4 (1 45); Dara McCarthy 1-0; Conor Cronin, Stephen O’Donovan, Fionn O’Donovan (1f) 0-1 each.  Ibane Gaels: Olan O’Donovan 0-7 (6f); Seán Walsh 1-1; Philip Flynn 0-1. 


Bantry Blues: Daire Kingston; Eli Reynolds, Conor Cronin, Ruairí O’Shea; Dara McCarthy, Mark Óg O’Sullivan, Stephen O’Donovan; Michael O’Donovan, John Crowley; Dara Sheedy, Jack Sheedy, Luke Salter-Townshend; Fionn O’Donovan, Fionn Barry, Paddy Cronin.  Subs: David Shiels for R O’Shea (46), Con O’Callaghan for F O’Donovan (56), Oran Wiseman for J Crowley (59). 

Ibane Gaels: Cormac McCarthy; Michael Walsh, Seán O’Riordan, Charlie Dineen; Daniel Moloney, Fergal Walsh, Charlie Twomey; Seán Henchion, Kevin Hennessy; Philip Flynn, Seán Walsh, Diarmuid McCarthy; Joe Crowley, Tomás Ó Buachalla, Olan O’Donovan.  Subs: James Crowley for C Dineen (ht), Dara Walsh for S Walsh (45), Aidan Walsh for P Flynn (58). 

Referee: Jack Forbes (Dohenys).


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