RANDAL ÓG 0-11
TOM LYONS REPORTS
Having lost the delayed 2020 final to Newcestown just four months ago, Randal Óg made no mistake this time when beating Goleen in the final of the 2021 Bandon Co-op junior B football championship in sun-splashed Church Cross on Sunday last.
This was a day when every Randal player from one to 15 hit top form while Goleen never got going and never played to their usual form.
Looking lively and committed, the lighter Randal side dominated this game from start to finish and should have had the game wrapped up by half time, although playing against the breeze.
Only some poor shooting by the Castle forwards and brave defending by the Goleen backs kept the Mizen side in the game as they trailed by six points at the break, failing to raise a single flag in that first half.
Goleen were much more competitive in the second half and actually won the third quarter by 0-4 to 0-3, but their four points all came from well-struck frees by Darren O’Donovan. Randal’s tightened their grip on the game in the last quarter, content to kick only two points but, again, holding the Goleen men scoreless.
In the end they took the Bill Nolan Cup back to Ballinacarriga after a well-deserved and highly impressive performance.
‘We’re delighted with that performance,’ said a very happy Randals’ coach, Bandon man, Dave Aherne.
‘Goleen gave us a good beating two months ago, really caught us in the last quarter. They really taught us a lesson that day. They are the most physical team we meet every year and we knew we would have to be in top form to beat them today.
‘We were winning a lot of possession but the Goleen backs are so tough and tight that we just couldn’t get past them. Nerves had a big part to play in it in the first quarter but we settled down after that and found our rhythm. Our backs were outstanding when Goleen put on some pressure in the second half, they’ve been outstanding all year in football and hurling.’
On a perfect autumn day, Goleen had the advantage of the slight breeze in the first half but it was Randals’, with midfielders Donncha and Peter Collins, dominating the middle third of the field.
Up front, Seán Daly, Conor O’Neill and Barry O’Driscoll in the full forward line were threatening to run riot. They had four points on the board in the first quarter from O’Neill, two frees, Daly and Séadhna Crowley but it should have been double that.
Goleen hardly got inside the Randals’ 45m line in that quarter and it was 0-4 to nil as the players took water on board.
Sub, Darren O’Donovan, forced a great save from Randals’ goalkeeper, Ciarán Murray, in the first minute of the second period, with Padraig Reidy putting the rebound outside the post, but it was all Randals’ again subsequently.
This time they managed only two points, from Barry O’Driscoll and Donncha Collins, a fine effort on the stroke of half time, thanks to some tiger-ish defending by Michael Sheehan, Jack O’Driscoll, Tadhg Reidy and Pa Sheehan in the Goleen defence.
It was 0-6 to nil at half time.
Two pointed frees from Darren O’Donovan at the beginning of the third quarter, to cut the lead to four, gave promise of a Goleen comeback, with O’Donovan, veteran John Cullinane, Daniel O’Driscoll, Patrick Scully and Padraig Reidy to the fore but a point from play by man-of-the-match, Seán Daly, and one from a free by Peter Collins, who had a great second half, nipped the comeback in the bud.
O’Donovan added another two points from frees but back came Daly again with one from play in response, something that proved beyond the Goleen side on the day. It was 0-9 to 0-4 at the second water break.
The Goleen men were forced to go for goals in the final quarter but were safely contained by the fine defending of Padraig Duggan, Shane Patterson and Cian O’Neill in the Randal’s half back line, while behind them, goalkeeper Ciarán Murray, well protected by Séamus Crowley, Cal Nyhan and Ian Crowley, was never going to be beaten.
Randals finished the game in style, despite the hard-working half forward line of Kevin Dullea, Cathal Duggan and Séadhna Crowley all being withdrawn, and points from Peter Collins and Conor O’Neill, free, crowned a championship-winning performance from the Ballinacarriga men.
A hard-hitting, tough but thoroughly sporting contest finished 0-11 to 0-4 and the Bill Nolan Cup was presented to winning captain, Séamus Crowley, by chairperson of the SW Board, Tom Lyons, amid great scenes of excitement among the large Randal’s support.
‘We’ve been out sixteen weekends in a row,’ said coach, Dave Aherne.
‘All we try to do now is keep the players fresh. We train only once a week, nothing heavy, If they have hurling at the weekend, we do all hurling that week and the same in football. They’re playing so many games, they don’t need any extra training. Recovery is more important at this stage of the season.
‘I started with the team last season and never realized how busy it was going to be. We always knew that Goleen would be the team to beat in West Cork. We’re still in two football counties so it’s all steam ahead, no rest unfortunately. It is hectic but we wouldn’t change it for anything now.’
Scorers: Randal Óg – Seán Daly and Conor O’Neill (3f) 0-3 each, Peter Collins (1f) 0-2, Donncha Collins, Séadhna Crowley and Barry O’Driscoll 0-1 each. Goleen – Darren O’Donovan 0-4f.
Randal Óg: Ciarán Murray, Séamus Crowley (capt..), Ian Crowley, Cal Nyhan, Padraig Duggan, Shane Patterson, Cian O’Neill, Donncha Collins, Peter Collins, Kevin Dullea, Cathal Duggan, Séadhna Crowley, Barry O’Driscoll, Conor O’Neill, Seán Daly. Subs used, Padraig O’Sullivan for C. Duggan (34), Sam Kingston for K. Dullea (52), Eoin Murray for S. Crowley (60).
Goleen: Ronan Kennedy, Michael Sheehan, Jack O’Driscoll, James Scully, Tadhg Reidy, Pa Sheehan, Flor O’Sullivan, Eoghan Sheehan, Daniel O’Driscoll, Shane O’Leary, John Cullinane, Patrick Scully, Jake Coughlan, Tadhg Cullinane, Padraig Reidy. Subs used, Darren O’Donovan for S. O’Leary (15), Sam Coughlan for E. Sheehan (40), Dan O’Callaghan for T. Reidy (45), Jed Little for J. Scully (50), Paul Collins for P. Scully (55).
Referee: Mick Walsh, Barryroe.
Our Star: Great team performance from Randals with plenty of fine individual performances but lively corner forward, Seán Daly, was a constant threat in attack and kicked three good points.
Star Moment: Donncha Collins’s long-range point on the stroke of half time, when they were struggling to convert possession into scores, was a real morale-booster for the winners.
Talking Point: The beautiful autumn day, the fine condition of the Church Cross pitch and Randals’ unexpected clear superiority on the day despite having played sixteen weekends in a row.
What Next? Randals will represent the Carbery division in the county inter-divisional championship, while still involved in the open county championship. They must also defend their SW junior B hurling title in the coming weeks. Goleen are in the semi-final of the open county championship.