NEMO RANGERS 3-13
GER McCARTHY REPORTS
LUKE Connolly’s match-winning goal broke Castlehaven hearts at the end of an enthralling Bon Secours Cork Premier SFC clash at Ahamilla.
Nemo sizzled in the searing heat and were the better team throughout the opening half an hour. The city slickers led 2-9 to 1-6 at half time, but it could and should have been a bigger margin but for some terrific Anthony Seymour saves.
Castlehaven thundered back into contention in the third quarter. Led by their Cork contingent, and impact substitute Robbie Minihane, five consecutive scores had the West Cork club leading by a point heading into the final stages of an end-to-end epic.
Level after 60 minutes, a draw looked likely until Luke Connolly stamped his authority on proceedings. A wayward Rory Maguire pass across the middle of the pitch was seized upon by the former inter-county forward. Quick as a flash, the ball was in the back of the net and Nemo were celebrating a second Group C victory in a row.
As for Castlehaven, going toe-to-toe with their rivals and coming up short in such a terrific contest will be of little consolation. Still, there was much to admire and plenty of hope heading into a must-win showdown with Newcestown in early September.
‘We were after putting in a great shift in the second half and disappointed with our first-half display,’ Castlehaven manager James McCarthy said.
‘In fairness, the players gave it everything. It was one of those decisions where we lost the ball in defence. You cannot lose a ball like that to Luke Connolly. He took his goal and it was the winning of the game.
‘We had chances before that and maybe could have managed things a bit better but I could not say a bad word about our players, they left everything out on the pitch.’
A large attendance got their money’s worth from a Premier SFC encounter that began at a high tempo and rarely relented despite the heat. Brian Hurley and Luke Connolly exchanged scores prior to Kevin O’Donovan being brought down and Connolly dispatching the resulting penalty.
Hurley and Cathal Maguire points sandwiched another superb Connolly effort before Conor, Damien and Jack Cahalane combined for the latter to scorch an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net. Hurley and Connolly continued their personal duel prior to Conor and Luke Horgan edging the Trabeg club back in front, 1-5 to 1-4, after 15 breathless minutes.
Nemo were rampant now and only a brilliant Anthony Seymour prevented Mark Cronin from goaling. Rangers kept probing however, and were rewarded with a flowing move that ended with Kevin Fulignati finding the net.
Paul Kerrigan made it 2-6 to 1-4 before another Seymour stop kept Castlehaven from falling further behind. Then, a Roland Whelton was shown a black card for a trip on Connolly.
Three Mark Cronin scores (two frees) and a Hurley free completed the first half scoring with Nemo 2-9 to 1-6 ahead.
The Trabeg club suffered a major setback at the start of the second period when the influential Stephen Cronin was forced off with a shoulder injury. Five Castlehaven points in a row had Haven on the front foot with Brian Hurley, Michael Hurley and Robbie Minihane to the fore. It was 2-10 to 1-11 heading into the final quarter but with Castlehaven dominating.
Mark Cronin converted a badly-needed Nemo free to make 2-11 to 1-11 after 50 minutes.
Once again Castlehaven responded. Robbie Minihane, Damien Cahalane, Mark Collins and Brian Hurley scored to make it 1-15 to 2-11 heading towards the end.
Ronan Dalton scored Nemo’s 12th point to equalise right on full time. That was the moment Connolly pounced for a marvellous individual goal that decided the outcome.
‘We are disappointed but will rock on once again in two weeks’ time,’ Haven boss McCarthy added.
Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 2-4 (1-0 pen, 2f); M Cronin 0-5 (3f); K Fulignati 1-0; L Horgan, C Horgan, P Kerrigan, R Dalton 0-1 each.
Castlehaven: B Hurley 0-9 (6f); J Cahalane 1-0; M Hurley, R Minihane 0-2 each; C Maguire, D Cahalane, M Collins 0-1 each.
Nemo Rangers: MA Martin; K Histon, B Murphy, K O’Donovan; C McCartan, S Cronin, K Fulignati; L Horgan, A O’Donovan; C Horgan, P Kerrigan, J Horgan; M Cronin, B O’Driscoll, L Connolly.
Subs: K O’Sullivan for S Cronin (31, inj), R Dalton for P Kerrigan (44).
Castlehaven: A Seymour; J O’Regan, R Walsh, S Walsh; C Nolan, R Maguire, D Cahalane; M Collins, C Cahalane; A Whelton, C Maguire, R Whelton; J Cahalane, B Hurley, M Hurley.
Subs: R Minihane for R Whelton (32), C O’Driscoll for A Whelton (40), K O’Donovan for M Hurley (62, inj).
Referee: Conor Lane (Banteer).