Conor Hayes’ first-half goal was crucial in Rebel Óg West decider
Ibane Gaels 0-7
THIS is just the boost the minor football in Clonakilty needed, insists Clonakilty manager Eamonn Walsh.
He had just watched his side capture the Rebel Óg West minor A football final under lights in Dunmanway.
While it was a vital goal by Conor Hayes in the 16th minute that was to prove crucial to Clonakilty’s victory, it was the blanket defending of the Clon players that was to eventually prove the winning of the game.
‘This was a badly-needed win for Clon at minor level,’ Walsh said.
‘Titles haven’t been flowing in recently and the club needed this win as there’s great work going on at underage, without the results. Hopefully, these lads will go on to win much more.’
This was a game of two clear halves as Clonakilty took control in the first half and picked off some fine scores, with their outstanding defence limited Ibane to two points from frees, while Ibane dominated the second period but just couldn’t break down the blanket Clon defence.
It was 1-5 to 0-2 at the break, Clon in the driver’s seat, but what a turn-around we saw in the second half as Ibane threw caution to the wind and went all out to haul back the deficit.
Ibane did cut the lead to two points but were limited to the fine free-taking of Ryan O’Donovan for scores as they raised only a single white flag from play. Having weathered the Ibane storm, Clon struck back in the closing minutes for two clinching points.
‘We got off to a great start and found ourselves a goal and a few points up,’ said Eamonn Walsh, whose brother Brendan had managed the last Clon team to win a minor title in 2014.
‘The goal was the main difference in the first half and our defence was outstanding. The full-back line of Evan Corcoran, Tony O’Connell and Niall Barrett have been superb all season and they did it again tonight. We picked off some nice scores and it was looking good for us at half time.’
With Liam Halligan and Ryan Hearne edging the midfield battle and Brian White, Odhran Bancroft, James Campbell and Conor Hayes looking sharp in attack, the Clon lads had scores from Halligan, outstanding wing back Cian O’Donoghue and James Campbell before Ryan O’Donovan had a point from an Ibane free, to leave Clon in front by 0-3 to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter.
The vital score arrived in the 16th minute when Conor Hayes was at the end of a superb Clon move to billow the net. When Halligan followed with his second point, the score-board was a healthy-looking green and red.
Bancroft increased the lead to seven before O’Donovan closed the first half with another free for Ibane, who had failed to score from play.
It was 1-5 to 0-2 at the break and with no breeze, Clon looked in a good position to drive on.
But with Andrew Guinevan and Jack Lawton taking control at midfield and half-backs Con Dineen, Eoin Guinevan and Darragh Holland surging forward, the pattern of the game changed completely and Clon were forced to employ thirteen players behind the ball to prevent Ibane scores.
The ploy worked, although the tendency to foul was punished by Ryan O’Donovan who kicked another four points from placed balls, after Brian White had opened the second-half scoring from a Clon free.
Despite the best efforts of O’Donovan, Adam McSweeney, John Ally Byrnes and Matthew O’Donovan, Ibane just could not find the way through for the goal that would have changed matters.
As it was, they did succeed in cutting the lead to two points by the 56th minute, with sub Fergal Walsh kicking their only point from play.
There was brief rising hope until Clon finished strongly, having spent the whole of the half in a defensive mode. Two pointed frees from Brian White put the game finally outside the reach of Ibane and it was Clon who were rejoicing at the final whistle.
The cup was presented to Clonakilty captain Cian O’Donoghue by Kevin Greene, chairman of Rebel Óg West.
Clonakilty: Conor Hayes 1-0, Brian White 0-3f, Liam Halligan 0-2, James Campbell, Odhran Bancroft, Cian O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
Ibane Gaels: Ryan O’Donovan 0-6f, Fergal Walsh 0-1.
Clonakilty: King Kyalla; Evan Corcoran, Tony O’Connell, Niall Barrett; David O’Sullivan, Jack Wycherley, Cian O’Donoghue; Liam Halligan, Ryan Hearne; Dan Peet, Brian White, Odhran Bancroft; Fionn McPeake, James Campbell, Conor Hayes.
Sub: Robbie Downey for F McPeake (25).
Ibane Gaels: David Walsh; Michael Ryan, James Moloney, Arun Ducat; Con Dineen, Eoin Guinevan, Darragh Holland; Andrew Guinevan, Jack Lawton; Ryan O’Donovan, Cathal Sheehan, Matthew O’Donovan; Adam McSweeney, Brian O’Donovan, John Ally Byrnes.
Subs: Sean Walsh for B O’Donovan (20), Fergal Walsh for D Holland (43).
Referee: Liam O’Shea (Carbery Rangers).