The big news emanating from Rosscarbery on Saturday may have been Brian Hurley's return to competitive duty with Castlehaven – but it was O'Donovan Rossa's returning veteran Paddy Nealon that made the big difference.
O’Donovan Rossa 1-7
TOM LYONS REPORTS
THE big news emanating from Rosscarbery on Saturday may have been Brian Hurley’s return to competitive duty with Castlehaven – but it was O’Donovan Rossa’s returning veteran Paddy Nealon that made the big difference.
After 13 months out injured Hurley made his appearance as a sub just a minute before Nealon’s superb winner in this highly entertaining local derby in round one of the Rowa/Rowex junior A football championship.
Hurley kicked two points from frees in the closing minutes as the Haven fought, unsuccessfully, to pull the game out of the fire, having led for three-quarters of the game.
But the glory belonged to Rossas on the night, especially to Paddy Nealon, who played a major role in Rossas’ victory following his introduction in the 43rd minute. At that stage the Skibb team were two points in arrears but within ten minutes there were a goal in front heading for victory.
‘I’ve been taking a little bit of a sabbatical for the past two years, and missed a lot of the start of this season, but I saw a few lads I played underage with making comebacks this year and I couldn’t let them come back without me, lads like Kevin Cotter,’ said goal hero Paddy Nealon afterwards.
‘Fellas like that made me want to come back and enjoy it again. I was telling Steve Cotter a few months ago that I used to score goals when I was young and he wouldn’t believe me, but now he’ll have to.’
There was little between these great rivals in the first half, Castlehaven looking the stronger side, due mainly to the hard grafting of midfield pairing Rory Maguire and especially David Whelton, and to the early dominance of Stephen Hurley at full forward.
Hurley had three points on the scoreboard within the first 12 minutes, with only a single response from Rossa’s, from lively wing back Eoin O’Donovan.
When Mark Cahalane added a fourth for the Haven, they led by 0-4 to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter.
With Kevin Cotter, Jack O’Driscoll, Eoin O’Donovan, Jack Breen, Kevin Hurley, Rory Byrne, Eoin Hodnett and Conor McCarthy prominent, Skibb hit their second point from Brian Crowley before Dan Hegarty, prominent in the Haven half-back line, finished the first-half with a good point. Haven led 0-5 to 0-2 at the break.
Two points for Skibb from Eoghan O’Connell narrowed the gap early in the second half before Dan Hegarty and the influential Conor McCarthy swapped scores, Haven leading 0-6 to 0-5.
When Kevin Hurley pointed for Rossas to start the last quarter, the sides were level and there was a resounding cheer as Brian Hurley was introduced at full forward in the 49th minute, to be marked by Eddie Nealon.
Seanie Cahalane, Colin O’Driscoll, Dan Hegarty, Tom O’Leary, Kevin O’Donovan, and Shane O’Driscoll were now leading the Haven charge, but it was super-sub Paddy Nealon who struck the vital blow in the 50th minute when he weaved through the Haven defence to crash a rocket to the net off the inside of the post.
Now the game was really on as tempers flared on both sides and Rory Byrne was black-carded for Rossas. Hurley pointed his first free and when Seanie Cahalane fisted over, the lead was down to a single point in the 54th minute.
A nasty scene near the sideline resulted in a red card for Haven’s Steven Collins and when matters settled down Kevin Hurley kicked a vital point for Rossas.
As the game drifted into injury time, Brian Hurley pointed his second free, only a point separating the sides now, and even though the Haven gave their all to grab an equaliser, the Rossa defence, did extremely well to hold them out.
O’Donovan Rossa: Paddy Nealon 1-0, Kevin Hurley, Eoghan O’Connell (1f) 0-2 each, Eoin O’Donovan, Brian Crowley, Conor McCarthy (1f) 0-1 each.
Castlehaven: Stephen Hurley 0-3, Dan Hegarty, Brian Hurley (2f) 0-2, Seanie Cahalane, Mark Cahalane 0-1 each.
O’Donovan Rossa: Stephen Cotter; Eddie Nealon, Kevin Cotter, Jack O’Driscoll; Shane O’Driscoll, John O’Sullivan, Eoin O’Donovan; Jack Cowap, Jack Breen; Rory Byrne, Kevin Hurley, Eoin Hodnett; Brian Crowley, Conor McCarthy, Eoghan O’Connell.
Subs: Richard Fitzgerald for E O’Connell (40), Paddy Nealon for J Cowap (43), Brian Minehane for R Byrne (black, 54), Jack Cowap for E Hodnett (55).
Castlehaven: Daniel O’Mahony; Colin O’Driscoll, Shane Kearney, Liam Browne; Tom O’Leary, Dan Hegarty, Sean Walshe; Rory Maguire, David Whelton; Alan Cahalane, Mark Cahalane, Seanie Cahalane; Kevin O’Donovan, Stephen Hurley, Shane O’Driscoll.
Subs: Steven Collins for A Cahalane (42), Brian Hurley for M Cahalane (50).
Referee: Stephen Murphy (Bandon).