O’Donovan Rossa 2-18
JOHN MURPHY REPORTS
O’DONOVAN Rossa won the South West U21B football championship for the first time last Sunday evening – but for Bandon it was their third successive loss in the final of this competition.
A three-minute scoring blitz at the start of the second half in Ballinascarthy that yielded 2-2 propelled Rossas to a famous victory.
When they were on equal terms at the interval, 1-5 to 0-8, given they had played against the stiff breeze, Bandon must have quietly fancied their chances. But nothing could have prepared them for the scoring bombardment that Rossas inflicted on them inside the opening three minutes on resuming, as their final hoodoo struck yet again.
Joe Lynch smashed home a beauty, followed up with a point, scoring sorcerer Dylan Hourihane was at the end of a move involving impressive playmakers Rory Byrne and Elliot Connolly to billow the Bandon net for a third time in the 32nd minute, as Sean Fitzgerald clipped over a superb point.
Bandon were reeling from the onslaught, double scores 2-10 to 1-5 adrift, as Rossas went for the jugular.
But for gallant work by Joe O’Mahony, Kieran Walsh, Eoin Hurley, free-taker Eoin Nolan, Mark O’Regan, Ben Donegan and three-goal hero and captain Adam Murphy, the Lilywhites would have been in even bigger trouble.
A bullet of a drive by Nolan clipped the Rossas crossbar as a well-taken point by Timmy McCarthy eased the pain a little.
But Rossas were now in cruise control, solid as a rock in defence with five-star performances by goalkeeper Paul Minihane and his cohorts in the Fitzgerald clan, Ross and Eoin, Shane O’Driscoll, Dylan O’Donovan, Brian Minihane and Darren Daly proving excellent cover for Jack Cowap and Sean Fitzgerald operating around the middle third.
Up in the engine-room the talismanic Elliot Connolly was in full flight picking off a quartet of sublime scores in the in the 52nd, 54th, 55th and 58th minutes, the lead now of mammoth proportions, 2-18 to 1-8, with captain Brian Crowley, Kevin Hurley, Byrne, Hourihane, Lynch and a bevy of substitutes enjoying the freedom of the park.
Fair play to Bandon they refused to capitulate as captain Adam Murphy rattled the net in the 60th minute and completed his hat-trick two minutes later as he cleverly blasted home a free.
But it was too little, too late as confident Rossas coasted home.
It had been so different in an ultra competitive opening 30 minutes as Bandon drew first blood with a Mark O’Regan free and doubled their advantage as Ben Donegan found the target, all inside the opening six minutes.
The pace was fast and furious, the football top notch as points by Dylan Hourihane, Rory Byrne and Shane O’Driscoll saw Skibbereen ahead. But they were rocked back on their heels in the 12th minute as a lovely delivery by Eoin Nolan was flicked to the net by Adam Murphy.
Undaunted, Rossas hit back, Hourihane, Byrne off the post, Hourihane again and Sean Fitzgerald making it 1-2 to 0-7, at the close of the opening quarter.
Three Eoin Nolan frees and a Dylan Hourihane point completed the opening half scoring, the bravery of the Rossas defence evident as three times in succession they thwarted the classy Adam Murphy. What a dramatic second half was about to unfold.
Is this the dawn of a new golden era in Skibbereen football? Certainly manager Shane Crowley had good grounds for optimism as he reflected on a fabulous performance from his charges.
‘We were beaten in the first round in the A competition in the last couple of years and we felt we would be more competitive in the B grade. We proved that today,’ Crowley said.
‘That scoring burst after the break set us on our way and when we extended the lead to nine points at the end of the third quarter, we were well on our way to victory.
‘We are blessed to have some very good footballers in our ranks and their competitive aspect is a huge bonus.
‘We had a game plan for Adam Murphy, he is an excellent footballer, and you saw how clinical he was. Our lads stayed close and turned the ball over.
‘I cannot pick out any individual, they all excelled, stopped the flow of ball to the dangerous Bandon full-forward line. This is a great boost for football in Skibbereen. We now face the county series and it will improve our standard,’ enthused Crowley.
O’Donovan Rossa: Dylan Hourihane 1-5, Joe Lynch 1-2, Elliot Connolly 0-4, Rory Byrne 0-3, Sean Fitzgerald 0-2, Shane O’Driscoll, Kevin Hurley 0-1 each.
Bandon: Adam Murphy 3-0 (1-0f), Eoin Nolan 0-5 (4f), Mark O’Regan 0-2 (1f), Timmy McCarthy, Ben Donegan 0-1 each.
O’Donovan Rossa: Paul Minihane; Ross Fitzgerald, Eoin Fitzgerald, Brian Minihane; Shane O’Driscoll, Dylan O’Donovan, Darren Daly; Jack Cowap, Sean Fitzgerald; Rory Byrne, Kevin Hurley, Brian Crowley; Dylan Hourihane, Elliot Connolly, Joe Lynch.
Subs: Pádraig O’Neill, Michael O’Sullivan, Oisín Lucey, Patrick O’Brien, Niall Fitzgerald, Alan Nott (all second half).
Bandon: Ciarán McCarthy; Jeremy Collins, Kieran Walsh, Harry Lillis; Robert O’Driscoll, Joseph O’Mahony, Mark O’Regan; Eoin Hurley, Eoin O’Sullivan; Timmy McCarthy, Eoin Nolan, Aidan O’Mahony; Paul Lang, Adam Murphy, Ben Donegan.
Subs: Nelson McCarthy for Jeremy Collins (33), Conor Calnan for Paul Lang (39), Olan McSweeney for Ben Donegan (54).
Referee: Tommy Barry (Bantry Blues).