Tadhg MacCárthaigh 0-17
TOM LYONS REPORTS
TADHG MacCárthaigh are back in the Rowa/Rowex junior A football final.
As expected, they had too much for Ballinascarthy in this semi-final in Dunmanway, but they were pushed all the way.
With four minutes remaining in this highly-entertaining contest, in misty, slippery conditions, the scores were level and MacCárthaigh’s were facing into the breeze.
An upset definitely looked on the cards but just as they had done in the previous round against Kilmeen, the Caheragh side put in a superb finish which produced three points and the ticket to the final.
‘We expected a really tough challenge here and we certainly got it,’ said a relieved but delighted Caheragh mentor Tony O’Driscoll.
‘They have a young, fit side and we knew they would really put it up to us. We ground it out in the end but we made it very hard for ourselves.
‘We got off to a very slow start but then kicked eight scores in succession. However, they really caught us with those two goals in the second half and that is something we will have to look at before the final.
‘We showed great heart to get out of it in the end I wasn’t really worried when they drew level because I know the character in our team. We’ve been digging out second-half results all season.’
Looking sharp and lively from their recent hurling exploits, Ballinascarthy dominated the opening ten minutes against the breeze with Ciarán Nyhan, Sean Ryan, David McCarthy and Cillian Cullinane leading the charge. Points by Cullinane (free), Nyhan, Jeremy Ryan and McCarthy (free) had the Bal supporters singing but with the O’Driscoll brothers, Brian and Kevin, beginning to dominate midfield, the tide turned.
The Caheragh defence, with Daniel Kingston, Leon Burke, Shane O’Driscoll and Mícheál O’Donovan prominent, came to grips with the lively Bal forwards and up front the combined play of Gavin O’Neill, Colm O’Driscoll, Mark O’Driscoll and Sean McCarthy caused problems for the Bal defence.
Despite a black card for Kevin O’Regan MacCarthaighs began to rattle over the points, eight in a row without reply, from Sean McCarthy (2), Colm O’Driscoll, Gavin O’Neill (two frees), Leon Burke, Brian O’Driscoll and Mark O’Driscoll.
On the stroke of half time Bal goalkeeper, Barry Hanrahan, received a black card and it was 0-8 to 0-4 in MacCárthaighs’ favour at half time.
However, it was Bal who got off to a flyer in the second half, following a great save by stand-in goalkeeper Cathal Nyhan from Colm O’Driscoll.
Cillian Cullinane kicked a free in the 34th minute and then, in the space of 90 seconds Bal struck for two goals, from Daniel Nyhan – a high lobbing ball that deceived the goalkeeper – and from Ciarán O’Neill, who finished soccer-style to the net.
Three points in front, with the breeze to their backs, Bal were in the driving seat but, just as in the first half, MacCárthaighs again lifted their game in response to this challenge.
Two pointed frees from Gavin O’Neill and one from play from Killian Murray had the sides level by the 42nd minute and when Colm O’Driscoll pointed a free, Caheragh were in front again, 0-12 to 2-5, by the end of the third quarter.
The last quarter produced a ding-dong struggle as Kevin O’Donovan and Cillian Cullinane swapped points, as did Brian O’Driscoll and the outstanding Sean Ryan.
When Cullinane pointed a free in the 56th minute it was all square in a titanic struggle but it was the Caheragh men who finished stronger and a Mark O’Driscoll point from play, followed by two pointed frees from Gavin O’Neill, saw them emerging winners by three points.
‘Semi-finals are there to be won and it doesn’t really matter how you get across the line in the end,’ said Tony O’Driscoll.
‘We’re in bonus territory now. We were taking it game by game but didn’t expect to reach the final as we’re in the throes of building a new side and introducing young players.’
Tadhg MacCárthaigh: Gavin O’Neill 0-6 (6f), Brian O’Driscoll, Mark O’Driscoll, Sean McCarthy, Colm O’Driscoll (1f) 0-2 each, Killian Murray, Leon Burke, Kevin O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
Ballinascarthy: Cillian Cullinane 0-4 (4f), Daniel Nyhan, Ciarán O’Neill 1-0 each, Jeremy Ryan, Ciarán Nyhan, Sean Nyhan, David McCarthy (1f) 0-1 each.
Tadhg MacCárthaigh: Brendan Herlihy; Charlie McCarthy, Daniel Kingston, Kevin O’Regan; Mícheál O’Donovan, Shane O’Driscoll, Leon Burke; Brian O’Driscoll, Kevin O’Driscoll; Gavin O’Neill, Colm O’Driscoll, Sean McCarthy; Gavin Dineen, Mark O’Driscoll, Killian Murray.
Sub: Eoin O’Donovan for Kevin O’Regan (black card, 17).
Ballinascarthy: Barry Hanrahan; Gearóid O’Leary, Chris Ryan, David O’Brien; Jeremy Ryan, Ciarán Nyhan, Ciarán O’Neill; Sean Ryan, Cathal Nyhan; David McCarthy, David Walsh, Daniel Nyhan; Ben Murray, Cillian Cullinane, Brian O’Donovan.
Subs: Barry Walsh for Barry Hanrahan (black card, 31), Mikey Kirby for B Walsh (59).
Referee: John Forbes (Dohenys).