Ilen Rovers 2-11
Carbery Rangers 0-11
A DOUBLE goal blast in the space of 60 seconds was the catalyst for Ilen Rovers regaining the Clona Milk South-West U21A football title they last held two years ago.
Trailing by three points following a blistering opening to the second half by Rangers, Ilen’s first goal in the 42nd minute had an element of luck to it as the impressive Aaron O’Sullivan deflected a high ball from Tom Bushe to the Rangers’ net.
Scores level, within a minute Ilen hit the front when the lethal Stephen Leonard, despite being double-marked by Rangers throughout, won possession, weaved his way along the endline and crashed a great shot to the Rangers’ net.
It wasn’t quite game over, as Leonard followed with a point, but Rangers’ confidence seemed to ooze from them following the double blow and Ilen were well in control to the finish.
‘We were well on top in the first half but we weren’t putting them away, we had a lot of chances,’ said Ilen manager Brendan Duggan.
‘We always felt we had good forwards but we were worried about some of their forwards in the full-forward line. In fairness, Jack (Collins) and Paddy (O’Driscoll) wrapped them up fairly well.
‘Stephen (Leonard) was being double-marked at the other end so we brought him out to the half forward line to give him more freedom to express himself. It worked a bit as they brought their men out as well and that gave us more room inside.’
It was Ilen who got off to the better start in perfect conditions in Moneyvollohane on Sunday afternoon last when Stephen Leonard kicked the first point, rattled the crossbar with another effort and the industrious Joseph Hickey added a second white flag.
Even though Stephen O’Donoghue pointed for Rangers, points from Peter O’Driscoll and Leonard (free) had Ilen 0-4 to 0-1 in front at the end of the first quarter.
Rangers did have the best goal efforts only to see the sharp Eoin O’Driscoll taking the ball spectacularly off the goal line and goalkeeper Emmett Hourihane saving superbly from O’Donoghue.
With Mark Hodnett beginning to make an impression at midfield, there was a big improvement from Rangers in the second quarter as the rampant Hodnett rifled over three points, two from play, in answer to a single reply from Ilen’s Aaron O’Sullivan.
Ilen’s lead of a single point at half time, 0-5 to 0-4, should have been greater in view of the amount of possession they enjoyed in that first half but it was noticeable that not a single Ross forward managed to score in that half, their four points coming from their two midfielders, while Ilen’s five points were shared by four forwards.
Rangers’ improved form in the second quarter was continued after the break and with Hodnett, O’Donoghue, Rob Hegarty, Cian Daly, Cathal O’Rourke and Darragh Hayes to the fore, they thundered into the action.
Four unanswered points from Hayes, Patrick Hurley, Paul Hodnett and O’Rourke showed their forwards had found their shooting boots at last and their three-point lead had Ilen in serious trouble.
The score that turned this game on its head came in the 42nd minute when a high ball by Tom Bushe into the Rangers’ goalmouth was luckily deflected to the net by Aaaron O’Sullivan.
All square, within a minute Ilen hit the front when Leonard, now operating more successfully in the half-forward line, raced through for a cracking solo goal. Two minutes later he kicked a point from a free and Ilen were in the ascendancy against a shocked Rangers.
With Jack Collins, Paddy O’Driscoll, Sean Minihane, Hughie O’Neill, Donncha Whooley and Eoin O’Driscoll well on top in defence, and Tom Bushe and Dermot Hegarty battling hard at midfield, Ilen were not going to be caught in a last quarter that saw the game becoming a little niggly, with Rob Hegarty of Rangers and Hughie O’Neill of Ilen both seeing red.
Up front, Donal Collins, Joseph Hickey, Peter O’Driscoll, Aaron O’Sullivan, Matt Bushe and Stephen Leonard were putting in a big shift for the Church Cross/Baltimore side as they outscored Rangers five points to three in the closing stages.
Matt Bushe (play and free), Peter O’Driscoll (2) and Donncha Whooley all raised white flags in answer to Cathal O’Rourke (2) and Darragh Hayes.
Ilen Rovers: Stephen Leonard 1-3 (2f), Aaron O’Sullivan 1-1, Peter O’Driscoll 0-3, Matthew Bushe 0-2 (1f), Joseph Hickey, Donncha Whooley 0-1 each.
Carbery Rangers: Mark Hodnett (2f), Cathal O’Rourke (1f) 0-3 each, Darragh Hayes 0-2, Stephen O’Donoghue, Patrick Hurley, Paul Hodnett 0-1 each.
Ilen Rovers: Emmett Hourihane; Paddy O’Driscoll, Jack Collins, Donncha Whooley; Eoin O’Driscoll, Sean Minihane, Hugh O’Neill; Dermot Hegarty, Tom Bushe; Matthew Bushe, Donal Collins, Joseph Hickey; Peter O’Driscoll, Aaron O’Sullivan, Stephen Leonard.
Subs: Barry Collins for A O’Sullivan (61), Eoin O’Neill for D Whooley (61), Liam Dearle for J Hickey (62).
Carbery Rangers: John Patrick Eady; Diarmuid Kerr, Rob Hegarty, Peter Óg Hill; Brendan Kingston, Cian Daly, Cathal Hennessy; Stephen O’Donoghue, Mark Hodnett; Patrick Hurley, Cathal O’Rourke, John O’Brien; Paul Hodnett, Chris Prendergast, Darragh Hayes.
Subs: Ciarán Calnan for C Prendergast (50), Jack O’Regan for D Kerr (51).
Referee: John Forbes (Dohenys).