Carbery Rangers 1-7
COIS FARRAIGE REPORTS
REIGNING champions Clonakilty were put to the pin of their collar by neighbours Carbery Rangers in this exciting Clona Milk U21 A football championship game in rain and wind-swept Castlehaven on Saturday night.
Weather conditions were anything but good for football but both teams managed to overcome that handicap in a clash that went right down to the wire before the Clon supporters were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
‘We were missing eight of last year’s winning team and it’s not easy to fill in that many gaps in one go,’ said Clon manager Neil Deasy.
‘We had seven minors out there and conditions were not easy for young players. That said, we knew we were going to get a real battle from Ross and that’s how it transpired.
‘We did play some good football but we didn’t finish as well as we would have liked and, in the second half, we overdid the short game with the wind.
‘It was definitely touch and go there for a long time but I felt all the time that we had the edge and would pull through. It certainly wasn’t easy but we never expected it to be.’
Clon did look good in the opening sequences against the wind and driving rain. With county player Sean White and Cian Crowley dominating midfield, they had two quick points on the board from impressive full forward Ian Falvey within the opening eight minutes.
However, with their county player, Thomas O’Rourke, thundering into the game at midfield, well assisted by his brother Cathal, the Ross lads began to come much more into the game.
Brian Hodnett was prominent on the forty as Rangers drew level by the end of the first quarter with points from Thomas O’Rourke.
A good point from Hodnett had Rangers in front as the second quarter dawned and they were showing much more determination in the physical challenges.
It was looking even better for the challengers in the 20th minute when Sean Gordon was fouled in the square and O’Rourke made no mistake from the penalty spot. Snapping up most of breaks around midfield Rangers were five points to the good when Cathal O’Rourke split the posts with a long-range effort.
Just when it seemed Clon might slip out of the game, they rallied with defenders Cian O’Donovan, Tiarnán O’Connell and Zach Harrington to the fore.
A great run by Sean McEvoy, who was to emerge as man-of-the-match in the second half, set the hard-working David Lowney up for a point and when Ross Mannix pointed a free and then drove a good goal chance over the bar, the gap was down to two points and the pendulum had swung Clon’s way again.
To their credit Rangers, with the O’Rourkes, the Hodnetts, Jerry O’Riordan and Sean Gordon working very hard, grabbed control again with points from a 45 from goalkeeper Paul Shanahan and a free from Thomas O’Rourke.
Clon had the last say of a hard-fought half when Sean McEvoy pointed to leave Rangers leading by a goal at the break, 1-6 to 0-6.
Even though the rain began to die away, the strength of the wind meant the ball was firmly in Clon’s court as the second half began and luck was on their side when a point attempt from Ross Mannix in the 33rd minute hung up on the wind and Falvey fisted to the net to tie the scores.
‘We should have been in the driver’s seat after the goal,’ said Neil Deasy, ‘but we began to overplay the ball and the scores we needed didn’t come.
‘Ross were very competitive and we were finding it hard to create clear chances. They were very good at turning over the ball as our young lads weren’t strong enough in the conditions.’
As the players began to tire in the trying conditions, scores were hard to come by, although Clon were dominating the possession stakes. Rangers looked dangerous in breakaways and it took some solid defending from the Clon rearguard to keep them at bay, with midfielder, Sean White, carrying a lot of ball.
Thomas O’Rourke was still the main man for Rangers and he had them back in front from a free in the 40th minute. Clon were really struggling to overcome a very sharp Ross defence before Ian Falvey managed their first point of the second half when he equalised in the 43rd minute.
It was still anybody’s game as the last quarter began and Clon had a real ace in Sean McEvoy whose work rate was outstanding all through and who took the game by the scruff of the neck in the last quarter.
Only two scores were registered in a highly competitive closing 15 minutes and both fell to McEvoy, in the 17th and 28th minutes.
When Clon’s strong midfielder Cian Crowley was given a black card Rangers’ hopes rose again but they found the Clon half-back line, in particular O’Connell and the O’Donovans, in determined mood and they failed to raise any flag for the last 20 minutes of the game.
In the end it was Clon in front by two points, 1-9 to 1-7, and they were the first to admit afterwards that they were both lucky and relieved to emerge from such a severe challenge with their crown still intact.
They now meet Newcestown, surprise winners over Bantry, in the semi-final.
Clonakilty: Ian Falvey 1-3, Sean McEvoy 0-3, Ross Mannix 0-2 (1f), David Lowney 0-1.
Carbery Rangers: Thomas O’Rourke 1-4 (1-0 pen, 2f), Cathal O’Rourke, Brian Hodnett, Paul Shanahan (45) 0-1 each.
Clonakilty: Mark White; Ciarán Crowley, Cian O’Donovan, Zack Harrington; Liam O’Donovan, Owen Deasy, Tiarnán O’Connell; Cian Crowley, Sean White; Josh Henry, David Lowney, Ross Mannix; Liam O’Connor, Ian Falvey, Sean McEvoy.
Subs used: Jack O’Mahony, Sean O’Donoghue, Owen Deasy.
Carbery Rangers: Paul Shanahan; Michael O’Mahony, Robert Hegarty, Eamonn O’Mahony; Damien O’Brien, Jerry O’Riordan, Stephen Vickery; Cathal O’Rourke, Thomas O’Rourke; Brian Calnan, Brian Hodnett, Sean Gordon; Davy O’Donovan, Tadhg O’Mahony, John Hodnett.
Referee: Mick O’Leary (Diarmuid Ó Mathúna).