Heroic Newcestown footballers through to county senior football semi-finals for the first time
Ilen Rovers 0-4
DENIS HURLEY REPORTS
NEWCESTOWN have had many great days and another one awaits after they booked their place in the county senior football championship semi-finals.
While the incessant rain meant that this quarter-final tie with Ilen Rovers in Rosscarbery last Saturday evening was never going to be a classic, Newcestown won’t mind as, once again, defensive diligence stood to them.
For the third championship game in a row – Valley Rovers, Mallow and now Ilen – they avoided conceding a goal and held their Baltimore/Church Cross opponents scoreless in the second half, despite playing into the wind. Naturally, manager Tom Wilson was delighted with the outcome.
‘It wasn’t for the faint-hearted and it wasn’t for the squeamish,’ he said.
‘At half-time, we thought that 0-6 to 0-4 up wasn’t enough. David Buckley was after kicking four great points, but we kicked seven wides from the right-hand corner.
‘We just had to play a bit smarter, we knew that. We worked the ball up the field in the second half against the wind, there was no score for 13 or 14 minutes but then we got one and then a second one.
‘You kind of knew then that it was going to be tough for Ilen to come back. To hold them scoreless against the wind was a huge achievement, we did really well defensively and our discipline was excellent.
‘We kept pushing them back out the field and it was a magnificent second-half defensive effort.’
Having lost their first-round clash with Clonakilty in April, Newcestown could well be the last West Cork side standing if Clonakilty fall to Duhallow next weekend. Regardless, Wilson is looking forward to the challenge.
‘Maybe we’ll come up against our old foes Clonakilty again, them or Duhallow,’ he said.
‘We’re going to drive on for the next three weeks and get ourselves ready. We’re going to have a look at the opposition that’s coming and we’ll plan accordingly.’
It was a novel pairing for this stage of the championship, Newcestown in a first quarter-final since 2011 and Ilen competing in the last eight after an 11-year gap. With the considerable elements behind them, Newcestown sought to make that advantage count early on and they had a 0-5 to 0-2 at the end of the first quarter, David Buckley with four points.
Incredibly, the game’s opening score, from Ilen’s Stephen Leonard in the second minute, was their only one from play.
While Newcestown had a lot of the ball, chances were going astray and while they led by 0-6 to 0-4 at half-time – Dan Mac Eoin and Sean O’Donovan with Ilen frees – Newcestown had racked up nine wides. It should be pointed out too though that they did twice go very close to goals, Gearóid O’Donovan crashing a shot off the crossbar while the indefatigable Micheál McSweeney almost palmed home a Mark Kelly delivery.
At the other end, Newcestown did a lot to deny the Ilen full-forward line possession but the expectation was that Rovers would have the better of the play on the resumption. While they did have early chances, they were suffering from same shooting malaise as Newcestown and by the 40th minute Ilen had kicked five wides.
In the midst of that, Newcestown went close to a goal again, Jack Meade hitting the bar this time, and it was his brother Luke – so central to the defensive effort – who came forward to open the second-half scoring on 44.
With Ilen still unable to make inroads into the deficit, Daniel Twomey stretched the lead to four with a free and then Jack Meade set up Colm Dinneen with six minutes of normal time left. A goal was looking more necessary for Ilen, but Newcestown ensured that no chance arose and Daniel Twomey rounded things off with a late free.
A first-ever SFC semi-final awaits and Wilson has no fears about his players dealing with that.
‘A lot of these fellas were playing when we won the intermediate county a few years ago. They know what it’s all about, how to process it and be ready and that’s all we can do,’ Wilson said.
‘Trevor Horgan had a bit of a groin injury and felt that the Ilen game was a week too soon. Hopefully in three weeks’ time, he’ll be ready too.’
Newcestown: David Buckley 0-4; Daniel Twomey 0-2f; Luke Meade, Colm Dinneen, Cárthach Keane, Mark Kelly 0-1 each.
Ilen Rovers: Sean O’Donovan 0-2f; Stephen Leonard, Dan MacEoin (f) 0-1 each.
Newcestown: Christopher White; Murt Kennelly, Cian Twomey, Micheál McSweeney; Gearóid O’Donovan, Luke Meade, Colm Dinneen; Fionn Keane, Sean O’Donovan; Cárthach Keane, Mark Kelly, David Buckley; Jack Meade, Tadgh Twomey, Daniel Twomey.
Subs: Eoin Kelly for Kennelly (6, injured), Conor O’Neill for Mark Kelly (51), Cian Healy for O’Neill (60, black card), Rick Bradfield for Buckley (60).
Ilen Rovers: Damien O’Sullivan; Paddy Minihane, Tim O’Regan, Daniel O’Driscoll; Tom Bushe, Danny O’Donovan, Brian Leonard; Conor O’Driscoll, Peadar O’Driscoll; Peter O’Driscoll, Donal Collins, Dermot Hegarty; Stephen Leonard, Sean O’Donovan, Dan Mac Eoin.
Subs: Kevin O’Sullivan for Hegarty (37), Sean Minihane for B Leonard (41), Jack Collins for O’Regan (48), Conor Harrington for Collins (53), Aaron O’Sullivan for D O’Donovan (54, black card).
Referee: Alan Long (Argideen Rangers).