Skibbereen CS 1-14
SP Sliabh Luachra 0-14
NOEL HORGAN REPORTS
THEY looked in trouble at half time, they looked beaten with four minutes of regulation time remaining, but Skibbereen CS emerged with their Corn Uí Mhuirí aspirations intact from the recent quarter-final clash with Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra at Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s G4 pitch.
It’s testimony to their unwavering resolve that they prevailed, not to mention the input from substitutes Isaac Harte, Oisin Daly and Jack O’Brien, who scored the goal that hauled them back from the brink in the 57th minute.
Trailing by three points, 0-13 to 0-10, prior to O’Brien’s strike, the Skibbereen students had good cause to fear the worst, as was readily acknowledged by team manager David Whelton.
‘We badly needed a goal, and up stepped Jack O’Brien to complete a well-worked move begun by a super ball across the square from Luke Shorten. Jack hadn’t got much game-time recently, but we stuck him in today, and, in fairness, he took the goal very well, so we’re obviously delighted the decision paid off,’ Whelton said.
Although Cork minor Michael McSweeney from Knocknagree quickly nudged the Rathmore school ahead again, Skibbereen responded with a flurry of points shared by Robbie Minihane, Isaac Harte, Oisin Daly and Jack O’Neill to finish with a real flourish.
They looked the more convincing side early on as well, with Niall Daly, from a free, Robbie Minihane, Luke Shorten and Jamie O’Driscoll on target as they moved 0-4 to 0-1 ahead inside 13 minutes. They were still three points to the good after O’Driscoll, who looked razor-sharp at full-forward, made it 0-5 to 0-2 four minutes later, but they weren’t to score again before the interval.
Although denied an equalising goal in the 20th minute when Skibbereen goalkeeper Shane Kingston proved equal to a shot from close range by midfielder Michael McSweeney, the Rathmore school, with McSweeney to the fore, began to dominate territorially in the second-quarter.
It meant the signs grew increasingly ominous for Skibbereen after they conceded four points on the trot to turn over 0-6 to 0-5 in arrears.
‘We weren’t happy with our performance towards the end of the first half, we made that clear to the lads at half time, and, thankfully, they all put their hands up to get us over the line, including the three subs we brought in,’ David Whelton remarked.
‘It shows we have strength in depth, and that’s something you need going into the second phase of this competition,’ he noted.
Switched from wing-forward to midfield, Sean Browne helped to improve Skibbereen’s fortunes in the third quarter. They regained the lead after Browne’s precision cross set Robbie Minihane up for a point that pushed them 0-7 to 0-6 ahead in the 35th minute.
Sliabh Luachra, with Kerry minor Fionn Murphy making his presence felt following his introduction at midfield, bagged the next three scores before Browne’s probing run from deep led to a foul on Robbie Minihane in the 44th minute. Niall Daly converted the resultant free. Further Skibb points followed from Luke Shorten and Robbie Minihane – who slotted over a free won by centre-back Tomás O’Mahony after the latter had surged upfield – to leave them leading by 0-10 to 0-9 approaching the last ten minutes.
In a game of dramatically fluctuating fortunes, the pendulum appeared to have swung decisively in Sliabh Luachra’s favour when, with centre-forward Dylan Roche leading the charge, they struck a purple-patch to transform a one-point deficit into a three-point lead.
There was to be one more twist to the tale, however, as Jack O’Brien’s well-taken goal prompted Skibbereen to snatch the initiative in a thrilling finale to an enthralling contest.
In what was essentially a gutsy team performance, Sean Browne, Robbie Minihane, Jamie O’Driscoll, Luke Shorten, Shane O’Connell, Joseph Bohane and Cathal Hegarty were most consistent over the hour for the winners.
Scorers – Skibbereen CS: R Minihane 0-4 (1f); J O’Brien 1-0; N Daly 0-3 (2f); L Shorten, J O’Driscoll 0-2 each; I Harte, O Daly, J O’Neill 0-1 each. SP Sliabh Luachra: D Roche 0-8 (5f); Cian O’Connor, D O’Leary, Cathal O’Connor, R O’Leary, F Murphy (45), M McSweeney 0-1 each.
Skibbereen CS: S Kingston (Tadgh MacCarthaigh); S Carey (Ilen Rovers), J Bohane (Castlehaven), H O’Donovan (Clann na nGael); S O’Connell (Castlehaven), T O’Mahony (do.), C Hegarty (Tadgh MacCarthaigh); T Ó Donnabháin (Clonakilty), J O’Neill (Castlehaven); S Browne (do.), N Daly Ilen Rovers), F Collins (Castlehaven); R Minihane (do.), J O’Driscoll (do.), L Shorten (Tadgh MacCarthaigh). Subs: I Harte (O’Donovan Rossa) for Collins (ht), J O’Brien (do.) for O’Donnabhain (45), O Daly (Tadgh MacCarthaigh) for Daly (60).
SP Sliabh Luachra: B Parsons; R Daly, I O’Leary, Cian O’Connor; S Finnegan, M Dennehy, C O’Donoghue; M McSweeney, Cathal O’Connor; R O’Leary, D Roche, D O’Leary; P Moynihan, D Nagle, C Collins. Subs: D Fitzgerald for Finnegan (inj, 32), F Murphy for Cathal O’Connor (34), N O’Connor for R O’Leary (42).
Referee: M Sexton (Limerick).