By John Tarrant
Two first half goals from Conor Hayes put Clonakilty Community College on their way to a deserved victory over Mercy Mounthawk for a productive start to the Corn Uí Mhuirí at sunny Millstreet yesterday.
When a spirited Tralee side asked questions, it was all about Clon’s workrate and sheer grit that met a positive reaction much to the delight of team coach Michéal O’Sullivan.
“Its a terrific start to the group for us, things hadn’t gone so well in the previous two campaigns. Though its a young side, we are delighted, Conor is not our normal goal scorer but he took on the defence on both occasions and the finishes were exceptional”, he said.
“Getting out of the blocks were important because the Sem (St. Brendan's, Killarney) are the next opponents in the group. They will be favourites, we can them a rattle before we face Killorglin in the third game”, said the former Carbery Rangers great.
The play ebbed and flowed to a cracking opening half, Mercy Mounthawk set the pace from lead points by Paul Buckley and Donagh McMahon. Steadily Clon’ got to grips with the situation, Hayes danced through the Tralee defence before placing the ball precisely into the roof of the net.
In fairness Mercy Mounthawk thundered back into the fray, driven on by Kevin O’Connor, Shane McCarthy and Darragh Courtney. Wayward shooting limited their impact before an incisive move saw Michael O’Gara accept a pass from Courtney to net a brilliant goal.
That score lifted Mounthawk, stitching enterprising attacks and a sequel of attacks yielded four points in quick succession. Clon retrieved the situation, a productive burst highlighted on Hayes racing onto a loose ball to goal for the West Cork side enjoy a 2-5 to 1-6 advantage at the break.
For a time on the restart, the contest continued to rage, Ryan O’Donovan denied by the Mounthawk post only to follow up to point. At the opposite end, defiant Clon defending denied Mounthawk goal chances to Jack Sheehan and McMahon.
As the exchanges became somewhat frayed, Clon remained strong and unyielding thanks to the promptings of Jack Lawton, Nyhan, Cian O’Donoughue and Ryan O’Donovan. Boosted by the accuracy of Brian White from frees and O’Donoughue, Clon held pole position.
To their credit, Mounthawk never threw in the towel, rewarded on a brace of late points yet they failed to muster up a chance of an equalising goal.
Scorers for Clonakilty CC: C Hayes (2-0), B White 0-4f, C Nyhan (0-2), R O’Donovan 0-2(0-1f), C O’Donoughue, P Cullinane, O Bancroft 0-1 each.
Mercy Mounthawk: M O’Gara 1-4(0-3f), D McMahon (0-3), P Buckley(f), D Courtney, P Linnane, D Bowler(f) 0-1 each.
CLONAKILTY CC: K Lyalla (Clonakilty); B Deasy (Kilmeen), J Lawton (Ibane Gaels), D Peate (Clonakilty); D O’Connor (Dohenys), J Wycherley (Clonakilty), C O’Neill (Ballinascarthy); C O’Donoughue (Clonakilty), C Nyhan (Ballinascarthy); C Hayes (Clonakilty), B White (Clonakilty), O Bancroft (Clonakilty); R O’Donovan (Ibane Gaels), L Halligan (Clonakilty), P Cullinane (Ballinascarthy).
MERCY MOUNTHAWK: S Broderick (John Mitchel's); J Quigley (Austin Stacks), D Barry Walsh (Austin Stacks), C Healy (Ardfert); R Murphy (Na Gaeil), K O’Connor (Churchill), A Curran (Austin Stacks); S McCarthy (John Mitchel's), D Courtney (Ardfert); P Buckley (Churchill), M O’Gara (Austin Stacks), P Linnane (Austin Stacks); D Doherty (Churchill), J Sheehan (Na Gaeil), D McMahon (Austin Stacks).
Subs. D Bowler(Kerins O’Rahilly) for P Buckley(ht inj), P Dowling(St. Patricks) for D Doherty(51).
Referee: J Keating (Millstreet).