Hungry Rovers find extra gears to register emphatic victory

Ilen Rovers 0-15 Carrigaline 0-7

Rovers' elevation to the top grade means there will be six teams from West Cork in the 2004 senior championship, and it also shortens the odds on they drawing one of their neighbours in the first round.

There was never any doubt about the outcome of this final, played in near perfect conditions in front of an attendance of 3,261, after Kevin O'Sullivan opened the Rovers account in the second minute.

Primed to a tee, they handed out a lesson to Carrig in how to play the short passing game.

Prior to their opening score, the West Cork side must have strung at least 20 passes together before O'Sullivan pointed, and it was their ability to keep possession in the tightest of situations which was the primary difference between the sides.

Another hugely important facet of the Rovers game was the way they got men behind the ball when they lost possession.

This was clearly illustrated early in the second half, when midfielder Alec Whooley was on the edge of his own square to deny Ken O'Keeffe a goal chance with a timely block-down, while his direct opponent stood in the middle of the field all on his own.

Ilen's level of fitness was also a key factor in their comfortable victory. The speed with which they turned defence into attack was superb, and when they were on the move, wing backs David Whooley and John Wycherley regularly joined in.

Whooley's ability to get forward earned him two excellent points, even corner back Donal Murphy got in on scoring act, and while Kevin O'Sullivan won the man of the match award, the pony-tailed Whycherley must have been a very close second, such was the amount of ground he covered.

Midfield was always going to be a key area, and here the towering figures of Fachtna Collins and Alec Whooley ensured the Rovers won more than their share of possession over Nicholas Murphy and Padraig O'Driscoll.

Apart from a couple of magnificent high catches, Murphy found it difficult to stamp his authority, and after he picked up a leg injury early in the second half, he faded.

While this was essentially a team effort, the displays of Diarmuid Duggan at full back, John Sheehy at centre back, Kieran Daly at centre forward, and Kevin O'Sullivan at left corner forward deserve special mention.

Ilen Rovers have now jumped from junior to senior ranks in the space of three years, and on the evidence of this display, are well up there with most of the other teams in the higher grade.

For Carrig, this is their second final defeat in seven years, but they can have no complaints on this occasion.

Tactically, one wonders would they have been better served in following their direct opponents around the field. Indeed, only for a couple of magnificent saves by their 'keeper Matthew O'Sullivan, they could well have been on the end of a far heavier defeat.

Apart from O'Sullivan, only Tom Burke, long serving Ger Cooney, Oliver Conlon, and Peter Murphy can look back on this particular final with any degree of satisfaction.

The sides were level only once, after Marc Doody kicked the equalising points in the eight minutes, but from there to the break, Ilen Rovers took control, and while the scores didn't come as freely as their dominance suggested, their 0-6 to 0-2 half time lead was fully merited.

Carrig resumed the second half minus the injured Marc Doody, and only a great save by Matthew O'Sullivan denied Donie Duggan a goal, as the Rovers continued to dictate matters.

For the next 10 minutes Carrig enjoyed their best spell, and had the deficit down to four points before Peter Murphy was only inches away from a goal, after he chased his brother Nicholas's long delivery.

It was a close as they got however. Clearly the hungrier side, the Rovers had the ability to find an extra couple of gears, and in the space of eight minutes scorched into an 0-12 to 0-4 lead with a succession of excellent points, three of them by Kevin O'Sullivan and there was no way back for Carrig.

Scorers Ilen Rovers: K. O'Sullivan 0-6 (0-3 frees); E. Sheehy 0-3; D. Whooley 0-2; F. Collins, J. Whooley, D. Murphy, K. Daly 0-1 each.

Carrigaline: E. O'Sullivan 0-2 (frees); M. Doody, O. Conlon, K. O'Keeffe, P. Murphy, N. Murphy 0-1 each.

ILEN ROVERS: G. Coakley; D. Murphy, Diarmuid Duggan, D. Coughlan; D. Whooley, J. Sheehy, J. Wycherleyt; A. Whooley, F. Collins; F. O'Driscoll, K. Daly, E. Sheehy; J. Whooley, Donie Duggan, K. O'Sullivan; Subs. S. Casey for O'Driscoll; S. Holland for J. Whooley; D. Casey for Donie Duggan.

CARRIGALINE: M. O'Sullivan; K. Forbes, N. Hayes, K. Blake; G. Dillon, T. Burke, G. Cooney; N. Murphy, P. O'Driscoll; K. O'Keeffe, E. Murphy, E. O'Sullivan; O. Conlon, P. Murphy, M. Doody. Subs. A. O'Keeffe for Doody; J. Mullaney for E. Murphy; E. Barry for E. O'Sullivan.

Referee: N. Brosnan (Killavullen).

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