Randal Óg 3-10
Ahán Gaels 0-10
TOM LYONS REPORTS
RANDAL Óg defied the odds with a surprise win against Ahán Gaels in the Clona Milk U21B football championship in Clonakilty.
Having decided to upgrade from their usual C grade to B this season, Randals were given little chance against the St Mary’s/Diarmuid Ó Mathúna combination. However, their ability to score goals, especially in the first half against the wind, proved vital despite a great start from Ahán.
‘Some people told us we wouldn’t be good enough for B but we knew we were and it was just a job of convincing the players that they could do it,’ said Randals’ mentor Ger Collins.
‘These lads have been playing top grade underage football with Sam Maguires and we knew we could survive in B. That experience with Maguires was vital and could be clearly seen here as we played the better football at times today.
‘We want the lads playing good football, whatever the result, and they did that today. We have to be pleased with that. We know there will be stiffer tests along the way but this experience will really stand to us.’
With the wind to their backs, Ahán Gaels came flying from the traps and led 0-5 to 0-1 after ten minutes. Amazingly, they weren’t to score again in the half as Randals found their feet to take control. Darren O’Donovan, Ryan Scannell (two frees), Jeremiah Hurley and Aaron O’Driscoll were Ahán’s scorers, with Conor O’Neill (free), making Randals only reply.
Donncha Collins then goaled for Randals, finishing a move he had begun himself.
Playing a lovely brand of football against a physically stronger Ahán, full forward Conor O’Neill kicked an equalising point before wing forward Cathal Duggan nudged Randals in front for the first time. Ronan Daly scored their second goal in the 24th minute and wing back Peter Collins added a point as they led 2-4 to 0-5 at the break.
Any notion Randals might have harboured of pulling away with the wind in the second half were quickly dispelled by a battling Ahán, with David Curtin and Aaron Draper reverting to midfield where they got a good grip on proceedings. Up front, Jeremiah Hurley and Darren O’Donovan were threatening and O’Donovan pointed twice, with the strong Joe O’Driscoll and Ryan Scannell adding two more. Randal’s answered through Conor O’Neill (free) and Peter Collins but were struggling to contain the stronger Ahán.
Only three points, 2-6 to 0-9, separated the sides as the last quarter began. It was the hungrier Randals who lifted their game again with all six defenders, brilliantly led by full vack Conor O’Connell, and goalkeeper Ciarán Murray, putting up the shutters.
Ahán managed only one more score in the game, a Ryan Scannell free, as Donncha Collins got a second wind at midfield, well assisted by Cian O’Neill.
Points by Cathal Duggan (2) and Conor O’Neill stretched the lead to five points before tall full forward Conor O’Neill wrote finish to the game in the 58th minute when he rose highest to divert a Duggan free to the Ahán net. Duggan, himself, closed the scoring with a point, a marvellous win for Randals whose decision to upgrade was fully vindicated.
Randal Óg: Conor O’Neill 1-4 (3f); Cathal Duggan 0-4 (2f); Ronan Daly, Donncha Collins 1-0 each; Peter Collins 0-2.
Ahán Gaels: Ryan Scannell 0-4 (4f); Darren O’Donovan 0-3; Aaron O’Driscoll, Jeremiah Hurley, Joe O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
Randal Óg: Ciarán Murray; Padraig Murray, Conor O’Connell, Cal Nyhan; Padraig Galvin, Seamus Crowley, Peter Collins; Cian O’Neill, Donncha Collins; Cathal Duggan, Daire Hayes, Sean Daly; Ronan Daly, Conor O’Neill, Eoin O’Sullivan. Subs: Padraig O’Sullivan for D Hayes (35), Andrew McCarthy for R Daly (58), Sean Calnan for S Daly (60).
Ahán Gaels: Oisín O’Leary; Ronan McCarthy, Cian Buttimer, Diarmuid Whooley; James Crowley, David Curtin, Adrian Crowley; Ryan Scannell, Cathal Mangan; Aaron Draper, Jeremiah Hurley, Joe O’Driscoll; Darren O’Donovan, Aaron O’Driscoll, Shane Corcoran. Subs: Paudie McNamara for S Corcoran (20), Nick Hillard for A Crowley (45), Darren O’Neill for J O’Driscoll.
Referee: Frank Quill (Bantry Blues).