NOEL HORGAN REPORTS
SO near and yet so far.
That’s how it was for Ballinhassig last Saturday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh where they went agonisingly close to upsetting the odds against Boherbue in the Bon Secours county junior A football championship final.
Involved in the showpiece for the first time in the club’s history, there’s no denying the Carrigdhoun standard bearers acquitted themselves admirably, even if it would be churlish to suggest Boherbue, runners-up to Iveleary last season, weren’t worthy winners on the overall run of the play.
Ballinhassig manager Cathal Daly agreed the laurels rested where they belonged on the day, acknowledging Boherbue are a very good footballing side.
‘They had a little more quality than we had, which probably made the difference in the end. I’m delighted with the performance our lads put in, they worked extremely hard. If another break or two had gone our way, we could have won it,’ said Drimoleague native Daly.
‘Nobody was giving us a chance here, but Ballinhassig proved today they can compete at a high level in junior football. That’s very encouraging, but at the moment it’s heartbreaking that we just came up short on county final day after giving it everything,’ the Ballinhassig boss lamented.
The early indications were the contest was destined to proceed along anticipated lines as Boherbue looked the superior side in terms of distribution, cohesion and ball-handling.
They were 1-1 to 0-1 to the good after Denis McCarthy placed Alan O’Connor for a goal in the sixth minute, but they were unable to go more than four points ahead until O’Connor pointed 19 minutes later.
The sheer intensity of Ballinhassig’s efforts ensured that every Boherbue score was hard earned, and the SouthEast side’s relentless industry yielded an even richer harvest nearing half time when an Eddie Finn point was followed by a Diarmuid O’Sullivan goal from a penalty won by substitute Brian Lynch.
That made it 1-5 apiece at half time, but Ballinhassig again had an uphill battle on their hands after Boherbue, aided by a Jerry O’Connor goal from a penalty, went four points up inside 37 minutes.
Ballinhassig goalkeeper Arthur O’Leary had made a great save to deny Boherbue another goal in the early stages of the second half, and considering they were forced to rely primarily on free-taker Diarmuid O’Sullivan for penetration, it was hard to envisage the losers pushing their fancied opponents all the way.
That’s exactly what they did, however, even after a well-taken goal by Eddie Finn, which cut the gap to the minimum, 2-7 to 2-6, in the 48th minute, was quickly negated by a three-pointer from Boherbue’s ace attacker Denis McCarthy.
Diarmuid O’Sullivan posted the next two points for Ballinhassig, and while his contribution was unquestionably immense, the tremendous work-rate from such as Simon O’Neill, Eddie Finn, Fintan O’Leary and Brian Lynch up front had to be admired as well. So too did that from Donncha O’Donovan at midfield, and from centre-back Conor Desmond in a defiant rearguard.
All of which wasn’t quite enough to carry the day for Ballinhassig, who had good cause to feel frustrated after Diarmuid O’Sullivan, for once, failed to convert a free and Eddie Finn was denied a point by the upright before Denis McCarthy landed what amounted to the insurance score for Boherbue in stoppage time.
Scorers – Boherbue: D McCarthy 1-5 (3f); Alan O’Connor 1-2; J O’Connor 1-0 pen; Andrew O’Connor 0-1. Ballinhassig: D O’Sullivan 1-7 (5f, 1-0 pen); E Finn 1-1.
Boherbue: K Murphy; J Daly, N Murphy, D Buckley; K Cremin, M O’Gorman, D O’Keeffe; P Daly, G O’Sullivan; Andrew O’Connor, L Moynihan, R O’Connor; Alan O’Connor, J O’Connor, D McCarthy. Subs: A Murphy for R O’Connor (34), CJ O’Sullivan for O’Keeffe (34), T Murphy for O’Gorman (54), J Corkery for Moynihan (58).
Ballinhassig: A O’Leary; K Maguire, M Desmond, J O’Callaghan; C Grainger, C Desmond, P O’Leary; E Lombard, D O’Donovan; E Finn, D O’Sullivan, S O’Neill; D Delea, C Tyers, F O’Leary. Subs: B Lynch for Tyers (inj, 20), D Lombard for M Desmond (39), C Cullinane for J O’Callaghan (40), Tyers for Delea (46), G Daly for Grainger (58).
Referee: P O’Leary (Cloughduv).