O’Donovan Rossa 2-7
Bantry Blues 1-9
COIS FARRAIGE REPORTS
O’DONOVAN Rossa had to withstand a fierce second-half comeback from Bantry Blues before eventually emerging triumphant in this Rebel Óg West minor A football championship final at Church Cross on Saturday evening.
At half time, Rossas seemed to have this game in their control when they led by three points, having played against the breeze. It was the Skibb lads who played most of the good football in the first half, against a Bantry side that seemed a half pace slower to most balls.
The second half told a different story as Bantry upped their game considerably and, despite falling five points behind early in the half, made a courageous effort to rescue the game. They cut the lead to a single point entering injury time, amid tremendous excitement, and were actually on the attack, 40 metres from the Rossa goal, when the final whistle sounded. It signalled delight for the Skibb lads and heartbreak for the Blues.
With Sean Fitzgerald and Jack Cowap getting an early grip at midfield, and Dylan Hourihane, the strong Rory Byrne, opportunist Eoin O’Connell and classy Elliot Connolly looking lively in attack, Rossas had three points on the board, from Byrne, Hourihane and O’Connell, with a single reply from Bantry’s Jack O’Neill.
The Bantry defence came under a lot of pressure in that first quarter but with Eoghan Minehane and Eoghan O’Shea very strong in the central positions, no soft scores were being conceded. In fact, it was Bantry who came nearest to scoring a goal in that first quarter, with Rossa goalkeeper Paul Minehane bringing off a great save from centre forward Shane McSweeney, one of the best forwards on the pitch.
With scores hard to come by, Rossas seemed to have struck a vital blow in the 19th minute when Hourihane set up Connolly for a cute goal but within two minutes the Blues replied with McSweeney cutting through the heart of the Rossa defence to rifle the ball to the net.
Following the goals the game lifted to another level and points from Byrne and O’Connell had Rossas four to the good, with Connolly blazing a great goal chance across the goalmouth and wide of the upright.
Bantry finished the half well with points from Eoin Daly and Jack McCarthy, with O’Connell kicking his third point for Rossas. It was 1-6 to 1-3 to Rossas at the break.
Early in the second half McCarthy narrowed the gap for Bantry with a free but in the 35th minute Rossas struck for a vital second goal and it had a slice of good fortune attached to it as Hourihane set up Kevin Hurley for a shot at goal, which was well saved, only for the rebound to pop up for inrushing corner forward Elliot Connolly, who palmed home his second goal of the game.
Any notions Rossa supporters might have had of cruising to the title following that goal, 2-6 to 1-4 ahead, were quickly dispelled as Bantry gained the upperhand for the remainder of the half, with Rossas becoming very defensive.
With outstanding full back Eoghan Minihane moving outfield; midfielders Ronan McCarthy and Kevin Coakley beginning to dominate the middle third, especially from Rossa kickouts; and Shane McSweeney, Jack O’Neill, Jack McCarthy and Gavin Johnson running hard at the Rossa defence, the game began to drift away from the Skibb team.
McCarthy pointed two frees to close the gap to three before O’Connell pointed for Rossas.
Bantry increased the pressure and points from O’Neill and hard-working centre back Eoghan O’Shea had the lead down to two points with five minutes remaining.
When McCarthy pointed a free in the 59th minute, only a single point separated the teams and only some brave defending by the Fitzgeralds, Dylan O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll in the Rossa defence kept the Blues at bay. Rossa now go on to the county championship.
O’Donovan Rossa: Elliot Connolly 2-0; Eoin O’Connell 0-4; Rory Byrne 0-2; Dylan Hourihane 0-1.
Bantry Blues: Jack McCarthy 0-5 (4f); Shane McSweeney 1-0; Jack O’Neill 0-2; Eoghan O’Shea, Eoin Daly 0-1 each.
O’Donovan Rossa: Paul Minihane; Ross Fitzgerald, Eoin Fitzgerald, Padraig O’Neill; Cillian Lane, Dylan O’Donovan, Shane O’Driscoll; Jack Cowap, Sean Fitzgerald; Dylan Hourihane, Rory Byrne, Michael O’Sullivan; Kevin Hurley, Eoin O’Connell, Elliot Connolly.
Subs used: Jamie Shanahan for C Lane (ht), Daniel O’Donovan for M O’Sullivan (40).
Bantry Blues: James Crowley; Robyn McCarthy, Eoghan Minihane, Eric Dowling; Billy Foley, Eoghan O’Shea, Fionn O’Driscoll; Ronan O’Mahony, Kevin Coakley; Eoin Daly, Shane McSweeney, Jack O’Neill; Jack McCarthy, Daniel Murray, Gavin Johnson.
Subs used: Tom Flynn for E Daly (40), Aidan O’Sullivan for K Coakley (55).
Referee: Liam O’Shea (Carbery Rangers).