GER McCARTHY REPORTS
CASTLEHAVEN withstood a gutsy second-half comeback from Bandon before sealing their place in the South West U21 A football championship semi-finals last Saturday.
Two clubs meeting in the championship for the third consecutive year served up a cracking encounter at a rain-lashed Ahamilla complex in Clonakilty where Castlehaven enjoyed a comfortable 1-10 to 1-3 lead with 15 minutes to go and looked set for a straightforward victory.
Cue a terrific Bandon comeback, aided by a gale wind and spurred on by inspirational centre-back Pa O’Brien, as the lilywhites rattled off six unanswered points to leave the bare minimum between the teams.
The Union Hall club momentarily steadied the ship to go two points clear shortly before the end of normal time ahead of a tense conclusion that saw Bandon produce a flowing move to carve open the Haven’s defence.
Corner forward Adam Murphy galloped clear only to be denied a certain goal by Haven goalkeeper Colm O’Driscoll and an off-balance Mark O’Regan could only blaze the resulting rebound over the crossbar.
Castlehaven breathed a huge sigh of relief, gained possession from the ensuing kick-out and worked the ball to Conor Cahalane, who found the net to set up a semi-final against either Ilen Rovers or Dohenys.
‘We would have taken a one-point victory at the start of today and we are just delighted to get the win,’ commented Castlehaven manager John Cleary shortly after the final whistle.
‘We looked to be strolling out there for a while in the second half and fair play to Bandon for battling back into it. I thought we were lucky to get out of it in the end. Championship is all about winning and Conor Cahalane got that crucial goal to help us over the line.’
Pa O’Brien was the pick of Bandon’s top players, scoring five points and leading by example from his centre-back position. Adam Murphy, Matthew McNamara, Mark O’Regan and Rory Fogarty also stood out for the losing side.
Conor Cahalane contributed 1-4 of Castlehaven’s winning total and he along with fellow forward Cathal Maguire looked dangerous whenever in possession. Patrick Bohane, Brian Deasy and Ronan Walsh also impressed but it was Michael Hurley’s eye-catching display that ensured Castlehaven made it through.
‘Michael Hurley was a huge influence on the result but unfortunately he couldn’t last the full game (going off injured). Hopefully he will be back for us the next day as he is a very important member of our panel,’ admitted John Cleary.
The high-point of Hurley’s performance was a 19th minute goal where the Castlehaven forward moved seamlessly through the gears and outpaced two Bandon defenders before arrowing an unstoppable shot beyond Conor Lynch. It was a marvellous goal worthy of such a talented player.
That strike extended Castlehaven’s lead, 1-4 to 0-2, after Conor Cahalane (twice), Patrick Bohane and Cathal Maguire answered two earlier Pa O’Brien scores (one free) for Bandon.
The lilywhites enjoyed a purple patch during which Adam Murphy netted a sublime goal to bring the Bandon supporters to their feet after 28 minutes.
The Haven finished the half the stronger however, as a brace of Cathal Maguire points and an additional Conor Cahalane effort ensured the Union Hall club went in 1-7 to 1-2 ahead at the interval.
Maguire extended Castlehaven’s advantage shortly after the restart and the eventual winners looked home and dry once Patrick Bohane and a Conor Cahalane free bookmarked another Pa O’Brien score to leave it 1-10 to 1-3 with a quarter of the game still remaining.
A combination of increased Bandon effort and lackadaisical Castlehaven defending saw the lilywhites storm back into the game, reeling off six unanswered scores between the 45th and 54th minutes.
James McSweeney began the comeback by splitting the uprights from distance before a converted Pa O’Brien free, a fine Matthew McNamara effort, another McSweeney point plus two further O’Brien scores made it an exciting one-point game.
Darragh Cahalane stopped the rot with a fisted point to edge Castlehaven two points clear, 1-11 to 1-9, ahead of the game’s crucial moments. Colm O’Driscoll’s save to deny Andrew Murphy a goal saw Mark O’Regan point the rebound before Conor Cahalane raised his side’s second and match-winning green flag at the other end.
Castlehaven: C Cahalane 1-4 (2f), C Maguire 0-4, M Hurley 1-0, P Bohane 0-2, D Cahalane 0-1.
Bandon: P O’Brien 0-5 (2f), A Murphy 1-0, J McSweeney 0-2, M McNamara 0-2, M O’Regan 0-1.
Castlehaven: Colm O’Driscoll; Ciarán O’Sullivan, Ronan Walsh, Colin O’Driscoll; Jonathan Burns, David Whelton, Brian Deasy; Conor Nolan, Darragh Cahalane; Shane Kearney, Conor Cahalane, Patrick Bohane; Cathal Maguire, Michael Hurley, Ryan Foley.
Subs used: Aidan Pearce for Michael Hurley (47, inj), David McCarthy for Shane Kearney (53).
Bandon: Conor Lynch; Oisin Twomey, Andrew O’Connell, Joe O’Mahony; Eoghan Ryan, James McSweeney, Timmy McCarthy; Pa O’Brien, Rory Fogarty; Colm Fogarty, Adam Murphy, Mark O’Regan; Matthew McNamara, Alex O’Neill, Colm Minihane.
Subs used: for David Laffin for Andrew O’Connell (20, inj), Jonathan Mulcahy for Timmy McCarthy (58, bc).
Referee: Frank Quill (Adrigole).