Ibane Gaels 2-12
Clyda Rovers 2-5
Noel Horgan Reports
THE dominant side for most of the hour, Ibane Gaels were by no means flattered by their seven-point winning margin in the county U21 B football championship final at Páirc Uí Rinn last Saturday evening.
It was indeed a power-packed display by the Carbery kingpins, who created a bit of history on the double as, not only did they garner county championship glory for the first time since Barryroe and Argideen Rangers amalgamated at underage level in 2012, they became the first team from the South West division to go all the way in this competition as well.
Afterwards selector Donal Holland couldn’t conceal his delight as he reflected on how smoothly Ibane Gaels got the job done against Clyda Rovers, making the point that they had sailed very close to the wind more than once en route to the decider.
‘We are after coming through a very tough campaign, considering we were a point down and a man down with one or two minutes to go against Kilmacabea and we won it, and we were were five points down with a few minutes to go against Bandon and we won it,’ Holland recalled.
‘We beat St Nicholas, who had come down from the A grade, by a goal in the county series, and we won the semi-final by two points against a very good Aghabullogue side, so I felt we’d be in with a strong chance if we played to our potential tonight,’ he revealed.
‘I never imagined we’d run out such comprehensive winners, and I’m absolutely delighted we produced our best display of the season in the county final, because there’s no better time to do it,’ said the elated Barryroe man.
It was a pillar-to-post victory for Ibane Gaels, who, with Killian McSweeney and Eoin Lawton lording matters at midfield, stamped their authority on the proceedings from the outset.
Patrick Moloney, David Kiely and Gerry Crowley were well on top too in the half-back line, while classy corner forwards Mark Crowley and Jack Cahalane did most to torment an overworked Clyda Rovers rearguard during a lop-sided first half.
In truth, Ibane Gaels hadn’t a weak link as they cruised into a six-point lead, 0-7 to 0-1, during the opening 25 minutes, with Crowley (3), Cahalane (2), and Lawton slotting over excellent scores from play in this period.
They were 0-8 to 0-2 to the good, and seemingly in complete control, before they effectively gifted Clyda a goal just seconds before the short whistle when Colin Kelly expertly converted a penalty, resulting from a needless off-the ball foul, for the Avondhu standard-bearers.
After full forward Conor Roche drew first blood for Clyda to cut the gap to two points within four minutes of the resumption, it appeared as if Ibane Gaels might have a fight on their hands, but Mark Buckley put them firmly back in the driving seat six minutes later when completing a typically slick build-up with a well-taken goal.
It was plain sailing after that for Ibane Gaels, who removed any lingering doubts about the outcome when Patrick Moloney and outstanding centre back David Kiely combined to set Jack Cahalane up for a goal that propelled them into a 2-9 to 1-3 lead at the three-quarter stage.
Lively corner back Conor O’Regan got in on the scoring act as Ibane Gaels stretched their advantage to 11 points before Colin Kelly replied with 1-1 – his goal coming from another penalty with virtually the last kick of the match – for the outclassed Mourneabbey side.
With ten players eligible for U21 duty again, Ibane Gaels are eagerly looking forward to competing in the A grade in 2017, according to Donal Holland.
‘The reason we amalgamated was to get fellas playing at a higher level, so it obviously means a lot to us to get the opportunity to move up to the top U21 grade,’ Holland said.
‘We’ll probably be regarded as one of the weaker teams in the A championship next year, but we have a great coach in Argideen’s Michael O’Callaghan, and I’d be very hopeful we can be competitive,’ he said.
Ibane Gaels: M Crowley 1-4; J Cahalane 1-4 (1f); O Dowling 0-2 (1f); E Lawton, C O’Regan 0-1 each.
Clyda Rovers: C Kelly 2-1 (2-0 penalties); C Roche 0-2 (1f); C Crowley, S Ronayne (f) 0-1 each.
Ibane Gaels: C Madden; D Hurley, J Sheehan, C O’Regan; P Moloney, D Kiely, G Crowley; K McSweeney, E Lawton; J Murphy, J Whelton, C O’Donovan; J Cahalane, O Dowling, M Crowley.
Subs used: D O’Driscoll for Murphy (ht), B Fleming for O’Donovan (55), J Dullea for Cahalane (58), S Madden for Whelton (59), K Lawton for Lawton (59).
Clyda Rovers: G O’Shea; D Fitzpatrick, D Walsh, S O’Connor; M Forde, R Flanagan, E O’Doherty; T Buckley, J Buckley; S Ronayne, C Crowley, C Kelly; M McEntee, C Roche, W Cronin.
Subs used: G Dennehy for Cronin (ht), S Kelly for Fitzpatrick (53), M Daly for T Buckley (59), D Flanagan for J Buckley (59).
Referee: C Dineen (Douglas).