SAM MAGUIRES 3-7
BANTRY BLUES 0-6
TOM LYONS REPORTS
SAM Maguire minor A footballers landed the county title on Sunday last in Aughaville to complete a noteworthy West Region and county championship double, with league deciders still to come.
The same two sides had already met in the West Region final, Maguires winning by 2-10 to 0-5, and it was almost a replica performance in this county final, despite missing a couple of players through injury.
‘Slow to start today,’ admitted Maguires’ manager, Tony White. ‘We’ve met Bantry twice already this season, in the league and West Cork championship and have won both. We knew they would really be up for this one. The lads were aware of that.
‘We had two big injuries coming into the game and we had to re-adapt, but we have lads on the bench as good as on the pitch. The two goals settled us and, after that, it was just keeping control.
‘The second half was much tighter, a matter of containment, and our backs have been playing well all season. We were able to see it out and the penalty finished it off.’
It was a determined Bantry who dominated the early stages of this final in perfect weather conditions but on a soft, grassy pitch, one of the few still playable in recent weeks. With Billy Foley lording midfield, well assisted by Kevin Coakley, Bantry owned the early possession but all they had to show on the scoreboard was a single point from a Clifford free.
A lack of penetration up front was to seriously affect Bantry all through but credit the Maguires’ defence, well-led by wingbacks, Declan Collins and Darragh O’Connor, for keeping the Blues at bay.
Slowly, Maguires’ midfielders, Rhys Coakley and Cullan Barry, began to win control of midfield, especially when the Blues’ mentors mysteriously moved Foley to full back, and wing back Declan Collins levelled. Shane McSweeney shoved Bantry back in front, but Keith White, slow to start but thundering into the game, pointed two frees to put Maguires ahead.
Maguires, with Nathan O’Donovan very prominent on the wing and Fionn Herlihy flying on the forty, were now showing their top form and it was no surprise when Kieran Forbes finished to the net in the 15th minute, set up by White.
The same White pointed from play to open up a five-point gap and the scoring rate slowed in the second quarter as both defences got on top, with Foley, Paddy O’Neill, Shane Buckley, and Eoin Daly doing well for Bantry, while goalie, Darren Frazer, Séamus Crowley, Jerry Farrell, David Farrell and Eoin Murray stood out for Maguires.
Shane Murray pointed for Bantry before midfielder, Rhys Coakley, scored a wonderful solo goal for Maguires in the 22nd minute, a real killer blow for the Blues. It was 2-4 to 0-3 at half time, with Maguires firmly in the driving seat.
The second half produced a real dour battle as the heavy pitch began to take its toll on the pace of the game. As Bantry came much more into the game in the third quarter, thanks to the efforts of Coakley, O’Neill, Foley, Daly, McSweeney and Tom Flynn, the only incident of note was a black card for Nathan O’Donovan of Maguires in the 38th minute, in a generally sporting encounter.
Not a single score was registered as Maguires comfortably contained the limited Bantry attack.
Coakley broke the duck in the 46th minute with a point for Bantry, but the impressive Herlihy quickly answered in kind. As the Bantry wides’ tally mounted from play and frees, they had Liam Coakley black-carded in the 51st minute.
With the Bantry attack never really putting pressure on the Maguires’ goal, it was becoming clear that the Western champions were going to add the county title to their list, with White, Barry, Farrell, Herlihy, Kieran Forbes and Denis McCarthy leading the way in the closing stages.
Keith White and Eoin Daly swapped points, as did Herlihy and Tom Flynn, with Maguires comfortably keeping control and they finished in style when Kieran Forbes was fouled in the square in the 63rd minute and Herlihy lashed home the penalty. It finished 3-7 to 0-6 with great rejoicing in the Maguires’ camp afterwards.
‘We’re still training twice a week,’ said Tony White. ‘The new astro-turf facilities are fantastic. It’s hard to get pitches at this time of the year, especially for matches, but we still have about five weeks left in our season. We must play the West Cork league final and then the county league final, plus the minor B league. ‘This is our third piece of silverware, but there’s more to be won and these lads are hugely committed.’
Sam Maguires – Fionn Herlihy (1-0 pen) 1-2, Keith White (2f) 0-4, Kieran Forbes and Rhys Coakley 1-0 each, Declan Collins 0-1.
Bantry Blues – Kevin Clifford (1f), Eoin Daly, Tom Flynn, Shane McSweeney, Kevin Coakley and Shane Murray 0-1 each.
Sam Maguires – Darren Frazer, David Farrell, Eoin Murray, Séamus Crowley, Declan Collins, Jerry Farrell, Darragh O’Connor, Rhys Coakley, Cullan Barry, Nathan O’Donovan, Keith White, Kieran Forbes, Denis McCarthy, Fionn Herlihy, Jason Daly.
Subs used, Alan Crowley for N O’Donovan (38, black card), Cian Collins for J Daly (47).
Bantry Blues – Filip Gil, Eric Dowling, Paddy O’Neill, Shane Buckley, Ciarán Thornton, Eoghan Minehane, Eoin Daly, Billy Foley, Kevin Coakley, Shane Murray, Tom Flynn, Shane Crowley, Ted Wiseman, Shane McSweeney, Kevin Clifford.
Subs used, Patrick Goggin for E. Minehane (15), Liam Coakley for S. Murray (40), Matthew Barry for C Thornton (40), Aidan O’Sullivan for L Coakley (51, black card).
Referee – Alan Long, Argideen Rangers.