Carbery Rangers 1-8
Ahán Gaels 1-7
TOM LYONS REPORTS
‘THAT was one hell of a battle,’ admitted a relieved Carbery Rangers’ manager Stephen Murray after watching his side book their place in this Sunday’s Clona Milk U21A football final.
Ross just survived this semi-final in Dunmanway on Sunday afternoon.
‘Ahán were physically stronger and we had to rely on moving the ball fast and using our skills,’ Murray said.
‘The goal was vital for us as we had a poor enough first half and it gave us a good boost. We didn’t deserve to lead at half time as they had played better than us in that first half but wasted a lot of chances.
‘Our defence did very well afterwards. Rob Hegarty showed all his experience as a senior player and showed great leadership.’
There wasn’t a kick of a ball between the sides for most of the first half as Ahán’s strength and fierce determination counter-acted Rangers’ slicker football. Ahán centre back Dylan Scannell set the tone for the game in the very first minute when he raced through the Ross defence to kick a marvellous point.
With Rob Hegarty lording the full back position, Rangers responded with two points from Darragh Hayes, who looked very threatening early on. A free by Mark Hodnett opened up a two-point gap with Cathal O’Rourke very prominent on the forty and both Patrick Hurley and Paul Hodnett looking lively in attack.
Rangers’ early dominance didn’t last as Gearóid O’Donovan thundered into the game at midfield for Ahán and Matthew Draper and Jamie Lucey began to use their pace to good effect in attack. Points from Darren O’Donovan and Draper (free) had the sides level by the end of the first quarter and the second quarter began with the Ahán defence bringing off a marvellous double block on Patrick Hurley inside the small rectangle, after a superb defence-splitting pass from Paul Hodnett.
A minute later the ball was at the other end of the pitch and Jamie Lucey was denied a goal by a top-class save from goalkeeper John Patrick Eady.
Brian Everard finally broke the stalemate with a point for Ahán in the 20th minute but they failed to turn possession into scores before Rangers struck a big blow on the stroke of half time when a fine move saw Paul Hodnett setting up Patrick Hurley for a vital goal. It was 1-3 to 0-4 at half time.
Cathal O’Rourke hit a purple patch at centre forward as he kicked three points in a row for Rangers but gallantly Ahán fought back with two pointed frees from the classy Matt Draper. When Mark Hodnett pointed a free to put Rangers four in front, 1-7 to 0-6, by the end of the third quarter, it seemed Ahan’s race might just be run but salvation arrived in the 46th minute when sub Stephen Moore fiinshed a clever Draper cross to the Ross net.
Some poor Ahán decision-making at vital times, courageous defending by the Rangers’ backs, brilliantly led by Rob Hegarty, and a slight tendency to go it alone proved costly for the Mathúna/St Mary’s outfit and it was Rangers who kicked a vital point from Paul Hodnett to stretch the gap to two.
A Gearóid O’Donovan point in the 54th minute left the minimum between the teams and the final hectic minutes saw Rangers hanging on fiercely.
Carbery Rangers: Patrick Hurley 1-0, Cathal O’Rourke 0-3, Mark Hodnett (2f), Darragh Hayes (1f) 0-2 each, Paul Hodnett 0-1.
Ahán Gaels: Stephen Moore 1-0, Matthew Draper 0-3 (2f), Darren O’Donovan, Brian Everard, Gearóid O’Donovan, Dylan Scannell 0-1 each.
Carbery Rangers: John Patrick Eady; Diarmuid Kerr, Rob Hegarty, Peter Óg Hill; Brendan Kingston, Cian Daly, Cathal Hennessy; Stephen O’Donoghue, Mark Hodnett; Patrick Hurley, Cathal O’Rourke, John O’Brien; Paul Hodnett, Chris Prendergast, Darragh Hayes.
Sub: Ciarán Calnan for C Prendergast (black, 58).
Ahán Gaels: David Cronin; Gavin Ahern, Sean Buttimer, Cian Buttimer; Alan O’Sullivan, Dylan Scannell, David Curtin; Billy O’Brien, Gearóid O’Donovan; Ryan Scannell, Matthew Draper, Brian Everard; Jamie Lucey, Jack Hurley, Darren O’Donovan.
Subs: Joe Forbes for C Buttimer (38), Stephen Moore for R Scannell (38), Tim Hayes for D Curtin (53).
Referee: Michael Collins (Clonakilty).