Bantry Blues 0-6
WEST CORK GAEL REPORTS
THIS is the result that could kickstart Newcestown’s charge for South West U21 football honours, according to selector Carthach Keane, after their surprise one-point win against Bantry Blues in a South West U21 A quarter-final at Dunmanway on Friday night.
Next up is a semi-final against reigning champions and three-in-a-row chasing Clonakilty, and confidence will be high after this fantastic victory.
‘We have to stay grounded now. We need a few more training sessions under our belt. We have not a lot of football done, but hopefully this will kick-start it all. Credit to the lads, we had a few barren years, but this result is a great initiative to go on to achieve greater success,’ Keane said.
He added: ‘This is a fantastic win for us, but we had to work hard for it, especially against that gale of wind in the second half. We probably did not put enough scores on the board in the first half, but the lads knuckled down. Hard work wins games and this crowd down the years have come through similar situations.’
They may have done just that, but certainly at the interval Newcestown looked to be up against it. Granted, they led by 0-6 to 0-4, but given the strength of the wind their advantage didn’t look to be enough.
Newcestown had started brightly and with Cork U21 panellist Micheál McSweeney effectively deployed around the middle third, Sean O’Donovan proving an able partner and Colm Dineen, Luke Meade, Darragh Curran, captain Conor O’Neill and Jack O’Toole carving out the openings, they took on the Bantry Blues defence.
Sean O’Donovan had the opening score in the first minute and Jack O’Toole added a 30-metre free in the fifth minute to double the winner’s advantage, before Bantry responded.
Sturdier in stature and with superior physique evidenced by powerful full forward Eoin Lynch augmented by the silken skills of Gavin O’Shea and with Donal Casey, midfielder Seanie O’Leary, Ronan O’Mahony, Jimmy O’Leary and Shane McCarthy running at the Newcestown cover at every opportunity, O’Shea got them on the score-sheet in the ninth minute with an exquisite gem from an acute angle.
Colm Dineen increased Newcestown’s tally to a two-point advantage, 0-3 to 0-1, but the industry of Gavin Cronin, Shane Delaney and Donal Casey was coming more into play, as Shane McCarthy with two superb white flags restored parity, 0-3 apiece, by the 22nd minute.
Then followed three unanswered points on the bounce from Newcestown, 0-6 to 0-3, as the interval suss loomed. Dineen did the business from a free in the 24th minute, followed by Luke Meade and then Dineen again.
Gavin O’Shea had the last say for the Blues, 0-6 to 0-4, allowing Newcestown a slim interval advantage.
But while the neutral observer would have feared for Newcestown’s chances, given the strength of the wind they now faced, Keane was still quietly confident they would prevail.
‘We missed a few chances it that opening half, but I felt that given the performance of our backs we would hold out. Take Greg Murphy for example, he played in a UCC Freshers’ hurling final (on Thursday) and he was, 24 hours later, possibly the best player on the pitch. It was that kind of collective solid performance from our defence that carried us through,’ Keane said.
While Bantry upped the tempo, created the opportunities and dominated the second-half possession, they just could not carve open that stubborn and resilient Newcestown defence.
However, when they drew level with frees by Arthur Coakley in the 37th and Seanie O’Leary in the 50th minutes, 0-6 to 0-6, it looked like the die was cast for Newcestown.
Then against all the odds Newcestown struck for the winner in the 51st minute. An isolated sweeping movement involving Darragh Curran, Meade and McSweeney resulted in captain Conor O’Neill delightfully splitting the Blues posts for a peach of a winning point from a free.
While Shane McCarthy caused Newcestown’s hearts to flutter as his vicious drive whistled past the bows of their goalmouth in the dying moments, it proved the Blues swansong, as Newcestown held out.
Newcestown: Colm Dineen 0-3 (1f), Luke Meade, Sean O’Donovan, Jack O’Toole (f), Conor O’Neill (f) 0-1 each.
Bantry Blues: Shane McCarthy 0-2, Gavin O’Shea, Gavin Cronin, Arthur Coakley (f), Seanie O’Leary (f) 0-1 each.
Newcestown: Cathal Clarke; Ryan Collins, Micheál McSweeney, Niall Murray; James Kelleher, Greg Murphy, Murt Kennelly; Sean O’Donovan, Lee O’Donovan; Eugene Courtney, Colm Dineen, Jack O’Toole; Darragh Curran, Luke Meade, Conor O’Neill.
Subs used: Peter Curran for Courtney (26), Andrew Shorten for Kelleher (40), Cian Healy for O’Toole (51), Marshall Kingston for Kennelly (59).
Bantry Blues: Mark Keohane; Ronan O’Mahony, Jack McCarthy, Noel O’Flynn; Tim Cronin, Jimmy O’Leary, Shane Delaney; Seanie O’Leary, Kevin Casey; Gavin O’Shea, Donal Casey, Gavin Cronin; Shane McCarthy, Eoin Lynch, Arthur Coakley.
Subs used: Shane Keevers for Lynch (55), Stephen Hanley for O’Shea (59).
Referee: Alan Long (Argideen Rangers).