Bride Rovers 1-6
FOURTEEN years after winning their last game in the county junior football championship, there was great rejoicing in Ahiohill last Saturday when Urhan beat Bride Rovers in the Cork JAFC quarter-final.
It was far from pretty in difficult conditions but the Urhan lads, a dozen of the team are U21, showed tremendous heart when battling back to win this game.
Having led the game for 50 minutes, after waiting 11 minutes for the first score, Urhan, despite missing a penalty, looked headed for a famous win as they led by two points with the game drifting into injury time.
Queue the only goal by Rovers’ sub Seamus Ahern following a bad defensive error, and Urhan were behind for the first time in the game. The 14-year gap – their last county JAFC win was in 2007 – looked like stretching to 15 but showing great courage the Beara men picked themselves off the floor. Against the wind, Urhan kicked the two last points of the game, the winner coming in the 67th minute from man-of-the-match, Conor Lowney. Then came the celebrations.
‘We never panicked, even when they got the goal,’ said a beaming Urhan mentor James Healy. ‘We have put a huge amount of work into this team, most of them are still U21, and we played a lot of challenge games. This was our first championship game, in the month of November, and no matter how many challenge games you play, you never really know where you are until you play championship.’
Thankfully, the rain held off but a gale of wind blew straight down the pitch in the first half, Urhan with the elements to their backs. Points from Alan O’Donoghue and Conor Lowney (45) saw the Beara men lead 0-2 to 0-0 at the first water break.
There was a distinct improvement in standard in the second quarter. Ciarán O’Sullivan and lively corner forward Steven Shea kicked points from play as Urhan stretched the lead to four. Bride Rovers hit back with points from Cian Hogan (free and 45) to trail by only two at the break, 0-4 to 0-2.
A point immediately on the re-start by Patrick O’Flynn indicated a Rovers’ take-over but the wind had lessened at that stage. Lowney pointed a free, two in it again, but when Steven Shea saw black for Urhan, Conor Barry pointed the free to narrow the gap to one.
Lowney, whose place-ball kicking was superb, raised a white flag and in the 40th minute came a huge moment when dominant Urhan were awarded a penalty for a foul on Philip Shea. A goal then and the game was probably decided. Up stepped Lowney only to see his penalty kick well saved by goalkeeper Stephen Glasgow. Game on again and a pointed free from Barry had the lead down to a single point, 0-6 to 0-5 for Urhan, at the second water break.
What a final quarter we had as both sides well all out for victory. Lowney and Barry swapped frees before Steven Shea kicked one of the best scores of the day. Two ahead with 60 minutes on the clock, Urhan supporters were literally climbing the wire with excitement but then the roof caved in when a bad defensive error presented Rovers’ sub Séamus Ahern with a tap-in goal.
It was then we saw the hunger of 14 years surfacing as Urhan refused to bow the knee and Lowney levelled from a free. As we checked our watches and readied for extra time, up stepped Lowney again and this time from play, after turning over possession, he kicked the winning point in the 67th minute to signal great scenes of delight among the Beara contingent.
Scorers – Urhan: Conor Lowney 0-6 (4f, 1 45); Steven Shea 0-2; Ciarán O’Sullivan, Alan O’Donoghue 0-1 each. Bride Rovers: Seamus Ahern 1-0; Conor Barry 0-3f; Cian Hogan (1f, 1 45) 0-2; Patrick O’Flynn 0-1.
Urhan: Ger Dunne; Eamon Shea, Killian Shea, Daniel Elphick; Alan Elphick, Joe Shea, Michael Shea; Alan O’Donoghue, Conor O’Sullivan; Alan O’Sullivan, Philip Shea, Ciarán O’Sullivan; Cian Crowley, Conor Lowney, Steven Shea. Sub: Darragh Harrington for K Shea (34).
Bride Rovers: Stephen Glasgow; Kieran Kearney, Shane Walsh, Eoin Roche; Jason Mannix, Liam Forde, Tadhg O’Sullivan; Shane O’Connor, Cian Hogan; Daniel Dooley, DJ Cahill, Conor Barry; Patrick O’Flynn, William Finnegan, Ryan Prendergast. Subs: Paul Larkin for T O’Sullivan (34), Seamus Ahern for R Prendergast (40).
Referee: Andrew Whelton (Clonakilty).