Crucial Brian O’Donovan goal the key to victory as impressive Ballinascarthy book final ticket
DONAL O’SULLIVAN REPORTS
It’s Ballinascarthy who progress to the final of the RCM Tarmacadam Carbery Junior A hurling championship final following a five point victory over Dohenys in an enthralling semi-final played out in a sun kissed Clonakilty last Sunday afternoon.
In a superb game of hurling, it was Brian O’Donovan’s goal in the 42nd minute that proved crucial and eventually managed to put some day light between the two evenly balanced teams.
Following that sucker punch, the Dohenys men went straight down the other end and things might have been different had Fionn Herlihy’s blistering effort rattled the net instead of the winners upright.
However, it wasn’t to be and from there to the end, the Pedlars Cross outfit showed good composure and managed to keep a spirited Doheny outfit at bay with some superb defending. Three points in injury time sealed their progression to the final.
‘We are absolutely delighted to get over the line,’ Ballinascarthy manager Joseph Ryan told The Southern Star.
‘It was a great game of hurling, really physical and exactly what we expected from Dohenys. We were very nervous coming into this, we had a long break and we weren’t sure how the lads were going to react,’ admitted Ryan.
‘We started really fast, which is unusual for us, but Dohenys are a strong side and we knew it was going to be tough. I’m sure it was a great game for the neutral to watch. As you can imagine, we are just delighted with the victory.’
Ballinascarthy started in blistering fashion and had three points on the board inside the first 60 seconds. Fionn Herlihy replied for Dohenys before both teams shared four points in the next three minutes. A Jeremy Ryan free stretched the ‘Bal lead to three before Dohenys hit a purple patch rattling over five in a row (three frees from superb midfielder Bill Murphy) to see them lead 0-8 to 0-6 at the water break.
Following that pulsating first quarter, it was no surprise to see the scoring rate and intensity drop after the restart. Two points for either side followed before two Ballinascarthy points in injury time saw the sides tied 0-10 apiece at the break. After the resumption, Murphy & Jeremy Ryan traded frees. A Johnny Kelly effort had Dohenys in front again before two points in five minutes (Luke Murray and Brian O’Donovan) restored the lead for the winners. Another Murphy free levelled matters again before the decisive period of the game followed a minute later.
Following a surging run at the Doheny defence by midfielder Ciaran O’Neill, the sliotar was eventually popped to Brian O’Donovan on the edge of the small rectangle. His bullet effort took a slight deflection and gave Denis Dullea in the Dohenys goal no chance.
Immediately from the puck out, Dohenys went on the offensive. Wing forward Herlihy somehow worked an opening only to see his effort canon back off the upright with the subsequent effort for a point tailing just wide.
That proved to be crucial. Following the second water break, two further ‘Bal points (O’Neill and the impressive Jeremy Ryan) stretched their lead to five (1-15 to 0-13) and it seemed that might be that.
However Dohenys came again and replied through Mark Buckley and Murphy. O’Neill added his third from play for the winners before a Herlihy point meant there was a goal between the teams with four minutes of normal time remaining.
A Darragh Collins point reduced the lead to two with two minutes to play. Dohenys chased the goal they so desperately needed but the Ballinascarthy rear-guard stood firm and kept them at arm’s length. Two injury time frees (Jeremy Ryan) followed by midfielder O’Neill’s fourth from play meant they emerged victorious by five points and progressed to a final against St. Mary’s.
Ballinascarthy: Jeremy Ryan 0-7 (5f); Brian O’Donovan 1-3; Ciaran O’Neill 0-4; Seamus McCarthy and Luke Murray 0-2 each; Cillian Cullinane 0-1.
Dohenys: Bill Murphy 0-6 (5f); Mark Buckley 0-4; Fionn Herlihy 0-3; Eoin Lavers, Johnny Kelly, Aidan O’Donovan and Darragh Collins (0-1 each)
Ballinascarthy: Darragh Hennessy; Dan O’Brien, Christopher Ryan, Ruairi O’Brien; Padraic Cullinane, Ciaran Nyhan, David Walsh; Luke Murray, Ciaran O’Neill; Jeremy Ryan, Seamus McCarthy, Ciaran Cullinane; Eoghan Ferguson, Cian Ryan, Brian O’Donovan.
Subs: Ricky O’Flynn for C. Ryan (45) and Andrew O’Leary for S. McCarthy (57).
Dohenys: Denis Dullea; Jerry Farrell, Tadhg O’Leary, Declan Collins; Jerry McCarthy, Eoin Lavers, Johnny Kelly; Bill Murphy, David Farrell; Fionn Herlihy, Aidan O’Donovan, Mark Buckley; Barry O’Donovan, Jerry Collins, Sean Daly.
Subs: Chris Cronin for A. O’Donovan (37), Darragh Collins for S. Daly (46) and Ray Jennings for B. O’Donovan (51).
Referee: Michael O’Mahony (Kilbrittan)
Our Star: Ballinascarthy midfielder Ciaran O’Neill impressed throughout. His four points and general all round play proved key in his sides’ victory.
Star Moment: In an entertaining contest that saw 36 scores, some of which were superbly taken, it was the winner’s goal which proved crucial. A powerful run by midfielder O’Neill and O’Donovan’s finish proved decisive.
Talking Point: The blistering start which saw seven points inside five minutes and the sheer intensity and physicality of the contest meant that this semi-final went right to the wire.
What’s Next? Ballinascarthy advance to the final where they will face St. Mary’s.