St James 1-11
JOHN MURPHY REPORTS
DON’T let that final scoreline fool you. With just seven minutes remaining in an entertaining Cork Credit Unions Football League Division 7 tie played on an excellent Ardfield sod, the hosts – and current Carbery JAFC champions – St James were hanging on to a narrow 0-7 to 0-6 advantage.
Visitors Ballyclough had really put it up to the Mountain boys in the preceding exchanges. If anything, had the losers not squandered some glorious first-half opportunities when they shot eight wides, they could have been ahead. As subsequent events transpired these misses were to prove costly. With St James, competing in the county league for the first time, under the cosh Ballyclough won a few long-distance frees. While former Cork senior football star and Ballyclough shot-stopper Colm O’Neill made the long upfield trek to take them, the massed ranks of the Ardfield boys’ defence repelled the best the losers could throw at them with Niall Evans, James O’Sullivan, Kevin O’Leary and Adrian Whelton playing starring roles.
From two such clearances the Saints broke out of their defensive shell, worked the ball rapidly up the field where James O’Driscoll and Joe O’Sullivan, two of their star performers, split the posts for crucial scores in the 56th and 57th minutes.
Ballyclough were far from a spent force, and they continued to prise for openings. From such a chance again O’Neill faced up to a mammoth free, some 80 metres out. However, it was to prove a defining moment in a tight game, as with his effort dropping short, James O’Sullivan burst out of defence to begin a sublime four-man movement that ended with Frank Hayes finding Denis White with a peach of a pass. The latter needed no second invitation as he billowed the net from close range, giving O’Neill no chance in the 58th minute. It was all over now, bar the shouting as Kevin O’Brien and Frank Hayes raised two further white flags, Adam Finnegan’s free too little, too late to save Ballyclough.
It had been a low-scoring opening half, with goalmouth opportunities as scarce as hen’s teeth, the sides sharing eight points to go in at the interval on level terms. Niall Evans (2f) and a point apiece from Frank Hayes and Joe O’Sullivan doing the scoring honours for the Saints, while Adam Finnegan with a brace and Tadhg Healy and a fabulous point from distance by Shane Buckley delivering the scoring goods for Ballyclough.
On resuming Frank Hayes and Aaron Finnegan traded scores, while Joe O’Sullivan and Ian Evans kept the scoreboard operator busy for St James. The winners did come close in the 46th minute as Frank Hayes tested O’Neill’s reflexes, but the latter was equal to the challenge. It was still nip and tuck until that late St James tsunami of scores finally won the day for the Mountain men.
St James manager Alan O’Shea was pleased with the result, given it was their first day out and rustiness was bound to be in evidence.
‘It is our first time out, we had very little chance to go on the field given the weather conditions. We are bound to be rusty. The substitutes played a key role today also while Denis (White’s) goal was of paramount importance, it gave us breathing space’, said O’Shea.
‘A win is a win, it is a good start. We had a big squad, missing four or five of the team today, while we have injuries to contend with presently. But overall, we are very pleased with the result.’
Scorers - St James: Joe O’Sullivan, Frank Hayes 0-3 each; Denis White 1-0; Niall Evans 0-2 (f); James O’Driscoll, Ian Evans, Kevin O’Brien 0-1 each. Ballyclough: Adam Finnegan 0-5 (3f); Shane Buckley, Tadhg Healy 0-1 each.
St James: Niall Evans; Micheál McCarthy (Brittas), James O’Sullivan, Adrian Whelton; Seán O’Connor, Kevin O’Leary, David Hayes; James O’Driscoll, Tadhg Feen; Ian Evans, Joe O’Sullivan, George Cannon; Mark Evans, Conor Hayes, Frank Hayes. Subs: Seán O’Reilly for Mark Evans (42), Kevin O’Brien for George Cannon (46), Paul O’Sullivan for Tadhg Feen (48), Denis White for Ian Evans (51), Cristoir Hayes for Seán O’Connor (55), Eoin Deasy for Micheál McCarthy (57).
Ballyclough: Colm O’Neill; Seán Walsh, David Ludgate, Seán Curtin; Shane Buckley, Mark Buckley, Kyle Trimm; Barry Morrisey, Adam Finnegan; Seán O’Leary, Tadhg Healy, Michael O’Callaghan; Jack O’Mahony, Damien Buckley, Aaron Finnegan. Subs: Michael Hayes for Kyle Trimm (29), Cian Walsh for Seán Walsh (46),Conor Healy for Tadhg Healy (51), Jack Moynihan for Adam Finnegan (57).
Referee: Andrew Whelton (Clonakilty).