O’Donovan Rossa 3-8
CASTLEHAVEN put the seal on an undefeated campaign by overcoming O’Donovan Rossa for the Cork LGFA junior B county title in Dunmanway.
Eight goals, ferocious tackling, fantastic saves by goalkeepers Eabha Lucey and Rachel Deasy plus a player-of-the-match display from the Haven’s Mairead O’Driscoll showcased the best West Cork ladies club football has to offer.
O’Donovan Rossa matched Castlehaven’s hunger and effort but were unable to build on a one-point interval lead. Rossa’s full-forward Kate O’Donovan deserves mention for contributing 3-4 but still ended up on the losing team. Eadaoin Fitzgerald, Mallaidh O’Neill, Lisa Harte and Emer McCarthy got through a huge amount of work.
The spine of Castlehaven’s side – Shelly Daly, Siobhan Courtney, Alice O’Driscoll, Fiona O’Sullivan and Rachel Whelton – built the foundation of their team’s victory. A full-forward line comprising Grainne O’Sullivan, Katie Cronin and Mairead O’Driscoll produced their best games in the famous blue and white-hooped jersey.
‘It was a brilliant game right to the end,’ said Castlehaven manager Dinny Cahalane.
‘We were down a player for the last few minutes and they kept coming at us but in fairness, our girls held out. We played an unbelievable second half, really upped it and played the football that they have played all year. Everyone upped it today.’
A breathless opening quarter concluded with Castlehaven 1-4 to 0-3 ahead. Skibbereen goalkeeper Eabha Lucey kept her side in touch with a string of top-class saves but Katie Cronin (three frees) and Mairead O’Driscoll points plus a superb Grainne O’Sullivan goal handed the Haven a deserved lead. Two Kate O’Donovan (one free) points and an Emer McCarthy effort kept Rossas in touch.
The second quarter was end-to-end. Cronin and O’Donovan exchanged points prior to Mairead O’Driscoll soloing past three defenders and finding the bottom corner for Castlehaven’s second goal. O’Donovan Rossa hit back instantly. Kate O’Donovan scored a point when a goal looked likely but made no mistake a minute later, finding the net with a confident finish.
Castlehaven were awarded a penalty in their next attack but Katie Cronin sent her spot-kick wide. O’Donovan Rossa breathed a sigh of relief, worked the ball up the opposite end and set up Kate O’Donovan for her second goal 60 seconds later. Sarah Hurley floated over a point to make it 2-6 to 2-5 in Skibbereen’s favour at the break as the watching spectators soaked in a marvellous final.
When it mattered most, Castlehaven dug deep and dominated the third-quarter. Mairead O’Driscoll and Katie Cronin scores restored their side’s lead but the Haven needed a marvellous Rachel Deasy save to prevent O’Donovan Rossa retaking the lead.
Once again, the eventual winners responded with O’Driscoll scoring 1-1 in the space of two minutes to edge her team 3-8 to 2-6 in front. O’Driscoll, Rachel Whelton and Katie Cronin tacked on points for a rampant Castlehaven until a 48th minute Kate O’Donovan goal showed Skibbereen weren’t going away.
Alas, the Skibbereen club were punished with a turnover in front of their goal and Grainne O’Sullivan netted her second goal to make it 4-11 to 3-6. Both teams tired in the closing stages with the Haven’s Sarah O’Donovan harshly sent to the line. Substitutes Lia Hogan and Kate O’Connell fired over late points as Rossas had a shot cannon back off the crossbar and another cleared off the line.
It mattered little as Castlehaven solidified their county junior B title with Katie Cronin’s goal a minute from the end.
Castlehaven: Mairead O’Driscoll 2-4; Katie Cronin 1-6 (4f); Grainne O’Sullivan 2-0; Rachel Whelton 0-1.
O’Donovan Rossa: Kate O’Donovan 3-4 (1f); Sarah Hurley, Emer McCarthy, Lia Hogan, Kate O’Connell 0-1 each.
Castlehaven: Rachel Deasy; Aideen Santry, Shelley Daly, Áine Daly; Emma Daly, Noreen O’Sullivan, Rachel O’Driscoll; Alice O’Driscoll, Siobhan Courtney (captain); Sarah O’Donovan, Fiona O’Sullivan, Rachel Whelton; Grainne O’Sullivan, Mairead O’Driscoll, Katie Cronin. Subs: Eilis Bohane for F O’Sullivan (42), Jessica McCarthy for M O’Driscoll (59, inj).
O’Donovan Rossa: Eabha Lucey; Christine Fitzgerald, Aoife Whooley, Eadaoin Fitzgerald; Aideen Bohane, Sharon Stoutt, Jennifer Keating; Triona Murphy, Jessica Beechinor; Mallaidh O’Neill, Lisa Harte, Emer McCarthy; Fiona Leonard, Kate O’Donovan, Sarah Hurley. Subs: Aisling Kearney for C Fitzgerald (ht), Kate O’Connell for A Bohane (36), Fionnuala O’Driscoll for T Murphy (36), Lia Hogan for F Leonard (47).
Referee: AJ Cronin (Mayfield).