TOM LYONS REPORTS
CASTLEHAVEN are closing in on their first South West U21A football title since 2010.
It was all too easy as Castlehaven blitzed Newcestown by 25 points in this one-sided Clona Milk U21A FC semi-final in Clonakilty last Sunday, and they now meet Dohenys in the decider this weekend.
‘We’re improving with every game, just as we wanted to. We gave a tremendous performance in the second half,’ said a delighted Castlehaven manager Finbarr Santry.
‘In the first half we started well but should have had more scores. In the second half we were happy with our performance, as near to perfection as we could expect from the team. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, scoring so much in a semi-final? Sometimes it’s better to win a tough, dour semi-final but you can only play what’s in front of you.’
Newcestown had to field for this semi-final without some key players, including Darragh Curran and Luke Meade, and found themselves a goal behind after only three minutes when Cork senior Michael Hurley converted a penalty for a foul on himself, having earlier blasted a shot off the post.
To their credit, the St John’s lads did settle, with Colm Dineen and Sean O’Donovan very prominent at midfield, and three points in a row from Cian Healy, Dineen and Padraig Collins had the sides level at the close of a lively first quarter.
But that was to prove the high point of their challenge as the Haven soon took control, with Conor Cahalane and Conor Nolan driving them on from midfield.
Points from the stylish Cathal Maguire and Hurley shoved the Haven in front before they struck for their second goal through wing back Patrick Bohane in the 18th minute. Even though the hard-trying James Kelleher pointed for Newcestown, they were again cut apart by a fine Haven move, Conor Nolan finishing to the net in the 21st minute. It was all Haven now as Maguire, Ryan Foley and Kevin O’Donovan raised white flags, with a single answer from Padraig Collins.
The Haven were struck a serious blow before half time when Michael Hurley limped off injured. It was 3-5 to 0-5 at the break and Newcestown had a mountain to climb.
When Cian Healy pointed straight after the re-start, it seemed we might get a comeback but it was not to be as Jordan Cahalane, at the second attempt, crashed the ball to the Newcestown net in the 33rd minute.
Playing some brilliant football, with Ronan Walsh, Shane Kearney, David Whelton, Ciarán O’Sullivan, Rory Maguire and Patrick Bohane completely dominant in defence. Conor Cahalane and Conor Nolan working their socks off at midfield, up front the scores flowed from Cathal Maguire, Ryan Foley and Aidan Pearce.
Maguire, Pearce (2), Bohane and Conor Cahalane all pointed to leave the Haven leading by 4-10 to 0-6 at the end of the third quarter and when Conor Nolan blasted home the fifth goal in the 46th minute, the crowd starting drifting away.
Conor Cahalane, impressive sub Darragh O’Neill (2), Foley, Jordan Cahalane and Nolan all kept the score-keeper busy in the dying minutes as the Haven played exhibition football.
Castlehaven: Conor Nolan 2-1, Patrick Bohane, Jordan Cahalane, Michael Hurley (1-0 pen) 1-1 each, Cathal Maguire 0-3, Aidan Pearce, Ryan Foley, Darragh O’Neill, Conor Cahalane (2f) 0-2 each, Kevin O’Donovan 0-1.
Newcestown: Padraig Collins, Cian Healy (1f) 0-2 each, James Kelleher, Colm Dineen 0-1 each.
Castlehaven: Colm O’Driscoll; Ronan Walsh, David Whelton, Shane Kearney; Rory Maguire, Ciarán O’Sullivan, Patrick Bohane; Conor Nolan, Conor Cahalane; Kevin O’Donovan, Cathal Maguire, Aidan Pearce; Ryan Foley, Michael Hurley, Jordan Cahalane.
Subs: Shane O’Driscoll for M Hurley (25), Sean Walsh for C O’Sullivan (38), Darragh O’Neill for K O’Donovan (45), Daniel O’Mahony for R Maguire (49), Liam Browne for S Kearney (52).
Newcestown: Cathal Clarke; James Kelleher, Gearóid O’Donovan, Mark Shorten; Cathal Cadogan, Lee O’Donovan, Murt Kenneally; Sean O’Donovan, Colm Dineen; Gerard Murphy, Padraig Collins, Sean Coughlan; Timmy O’Sullivan, Cian Healy, Jason Jordan.
Subs: Timmy Coughlan for S Coughlan (27), Dan McAree for T O’Sullivan (56).