Castlehaven looked on course entering injury-time but after Brian Hurley saw his effort from a tricky free strike the woodwork, Carbery Rangers surged downfield and won a free 35 yards from goal. John Hayes swung in his shot but the ball cannoned against the upright and in a frenzied goalmouth scramble, sub Michael Mennis booted to the net.
Carbery Rangers protected and after Castlehaven midfielder Sean Dineen was sent-off for a second bookable offence, John Hayes capped their victory when he popped over a 65th minute free. It was a sweet success for Carbery Rangers, convincingly defeated by their opponents in last month’s county semi-final. In contrast, Castlehaven were forced to absorb another sickening final defeat, 11 days after their championship decider loss to UCC.
On a bitterly cold night this was a full-blooded contest as referee Michael Collins dished out 12 yellow cards – nine to Castlehaven and three to Carbery Rangers – over the hour.
The physical tone of the game was set in the early stages but it was Carbery Rangers who were first on the scoreboard when John Hayes got the vital touch to divert a long ball from Alan Jennings into the net. There was some confusion as to whether the ball had gone wide or crept into the bottom corner but Collins and his umpires adjudged it was a goal after consultation.
Yet Castlehaven weathered that early storm and bounced back impressively. Mark Collins, Seanie Cahalane and Brian Hurley were in terrific form in attack, conjuring up 1-3 between them by the 16th minute. Hurley grabbed the goal when he slammed a shot to the roof of the net after Collins’ attempt from a free came back off the post.
Scorers were scarce for Carbery in the first-half but they grabbed another goal in the 27th minute when a John Hayes ‘45 was flicked to the net by James Fitzpatrick to draw level. Points by Collins and Hurley restored Castlehaven’s advantage before the break and their supremacy was reflected in their 1-5 to 2-0 interval lead.
The second-half was a more open and enterprising affair with Castlehaven making the initial break as they moved into a 1-8 to 2-1 lead when Damien Cahalane knocked over a superb point in the 38th minute. However, Carbery Rangers neverwilted with John Hayes reeling off three points in succession before an outstanding score by Fitzpatrick levelled the game.
The closing quarter was frenetic as the teams scrapped ferociously for the spoils. A fine brace from Collins nudged Castlehaven ahead but Seamus Hayes and Fitzpatrick displayed the composure to tie the game with precise kicks. Then an excellent left-footed point by Castlehaven’s Seanie Cahalane looked to be the winning score in the 58th minute but Carbery Rangers pounced for crucial scores in injury-time.
Scorers for Carbery Rangers: J Hayes 1-5 (0-4f), J Fitzpatrick 1-2, M Mennis 1-0, S Hayes 0-1.
Castlehaven: M Collins 0-6 (0-2f), B Hurley 1-2, S Cahalane 0-2, D Cahalane 0-1.
CARBERY RANGERS: M Moloney; M Kelly, M O’Donovan; S Hayes; S Murray, K McMahon, J Murphy; M O’Sullivan, A Jennings; P Hodnett, J Fitzpatrick, B Shanahan; J Hayes, J O’Rourke, S Hayes.
Subs: P Hicks for Hodnett (34), T O’Rourke for O’Donovan (45), D Hayes for Jennings (53), M Mennis for Murphy (55), Murphy for Fitzpatrick (inj) (60).
CASTLEHAVEN: B O’Donoghue; M Dineen, L Collins, T O’Leary; C Hayes, D Cahalane, M Cahalane; S Dineen, D Hurley; A Cahalane, M Collins, D Burns; B Hurley, S Cahalane, B Collins.
Subs: R Whelton for D Hurley (inj) (11), D Hegarty for A Cahalane (57), S Hurley for Burns (57).
Referee: Michael Collins (Clonakilty).