BY GER McCARTHY
SKIBBEREEN’S one-point victory over Clonakilty sets up an intriguing finale to this season’s Munster Junior League Division 1 relegation battle following last Sunday’s hard-hitting encounter.
Skibb’s heroic efforts in overcoming Greg O’Mahony’s first-half sending off and overturning an 8-0 deficit to win 9-8 – a result that sees them leapfrog Clon in the table – bodes well for the club’s ongoing relegation battle according to manager John Hayes.
‘This is a massive win for us and we badly needed it,’ Hayes said.
‘Being 8-0 down and also down to 14 men at the start of the second half meant we had to really dig out a result but we managed it. I think we deserved the win over the 80 minutes.
‘On the red card incident, I think it might have been a sending off offence alright but there were two players involved and maybe the referee had his back to it when it happened.
‘Our defence was huge today and has really improved since around Christmas time. We have started to defend much better apart from a blip in the first half of last week’s game and that’s all down to the players working hard for each other.’
Looking ahead to Skibbereen’s final two games against Muskerry (away) and Galbally (home), Hayes knows his side need to produce the same effort and application as they did against Clonakilty to have any chance of avoiding relegation from Division 1.
‘Clonakilty were two points ahead of us going into today’s game so we absolutely had to beat them,’ said Hayes.
‘As for Muskerry and Galbally, we have to try and get six points out of those next two games. We are not out of the woods yet but are certainly heading in the right direction after this win.’
The contrast in mood couldn’t have been starker whilst waiting outside the Clonakilty dressing-room for James Deasy to emerge. Loud singing emanated from down the hallway whilst a stoney silence permeated from Clon’s room. This was a huge opportunity lost and the Shannonvale club’s manager knew it.
‘Looking back on it, we probably needed to score a bit more in the first half. A 3-0 half-time lead wasn’t enough especially with that strong a wind behind us,’ Deasy admitted.
‘We had a great start to the second half but the result came down to fine margins in the end. We had a couple of knock-ons and we just couldn’t get over that try-line. Local derbies are like that.
‘Cobh at home is a must-win game now. You don’t want it to come down to the last game and requiring other results to go your way to stay up. Three weeks time at home to Cobh is going to be a huge occasion for us.I think our ill discipline might have let us down a small bit but sometimes when a team goes a man down, like Skibbereen did, it can help to galvanise them. They played the conditions much better than us.
‘We just have to put the work in over the next couple of weeks and hopefully the results will take of themselves from there.’