This was the real template for the game of two halves, but the energy and sublime point scoring by both sides still made this Cork Premier IFC fourth round clash more than a tinge interesting.
Full marks to Béal Athan Ghaorthaidh. After taking an opening half thumping from a rampant Naomh Abán side, they got their act together in the second-half, restoring pride to earn a replay. And they might even feel aggrieved at not having won it, Liam Shorten having what looked like a genuine 53rd minute point ruled out after discussion between referee Conor Lane and his umpires.
Maybe it’s time now to dabble in goalpost technology? Decisions like this are far too prevalent.
Yet for the way both sides dominated a half each, the draw was the fairest result. Béal Athan Ghaorthaidh, after opening with menace, flattered to deceive. Naomh Abán keeper Diarmuid McCarthy had to be smart to deny Tadgh O’Leary a goal and Liam Shorten was twice off target with good chances. And they paid the price as Naomh Abán hit back with an exhibition of point taking against the tricky wind.
Cuter on the ball, defending in numbers and using the big pitch to far greater advantage, Naomh Abán over-ran Béal Athan Ghaorthaidh. Micheal Ó Cróinín opened the scoring with a ninth minute free and points followed from Denis Keohane and Colm Murphy as Naomh Abán led 0-3 to 0-0 after the opening quarter.
With Chris Desmond, Anthony Lynch and Colman Twomey taking no prisoners in defence and Tadgh Scannell in fine form at midfield, Naomh Abán continued to turn on the style. Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh keeper Ger Hurley had to be smart to push a Colm Murphy shot over the bar, Ó Cróinín — still a smashing footballer – kicked an outrageous point and Denis Lyons a sixth and their bewildered opponents could only look on and admire.
Andrew Concannon did lift the siege with a 21st minute free, but there was no stopping Naomh Abán as Dara O’Sullivan tacked on two more fine points. Liam Concannon did get a second Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh point late on, but, leading 0-9 to 0-2 with wind advantage in the second-half, it was hard to see Naomh Abán slipping up.
But what a second-half Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh produced, upping the ante 100% to put the skids on Naomh Abán. Slowly but surely they ate into the lead as points from Tadgh O’Leary, Liam Concannon, Ben Shorten, sub Paul Buckley and a Liam Shorten free let Naomh Abán know they were in a game.
With Sean O’Donoghue and Barry Concannon thundering into the action from defence, Leonard O’Connor and Colman Twomey dominating midfield and the Concannons and Shortens wreaking havoc up front, Naomh Abán’s lead was only thee points, 0-10 to 0-7, entering the final quarter. And soon in it was only one when talented brothers Ben and Liam Shorten fired over points.
And there was more to come in the 50th minute when Liam Shorten set up Andreas Concannon for a cracking goal and Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh were in front for the first time. But there was still fight in Naomh Abán as points from Tadgh Scannell and sub Shane McCarthy levelled matters with two minutes remaining.
It was a mighty battle now, but when Liam Shorten pointed a huge free from the touchline it looked like the comeback was complete for Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh. But, with one last surge, never-say-die Naomh Abán saved it, Anthony Lynch taken down, resulting in a second yellow card and red for Liam Concannon. And the evergreen Ó Cróinín stayed cool to slot over the free and earn his side a deserved replay.
Scorers for Béal Áthan Ghaorthaidh: A. Concannon 1-1 (0-1 free), L. Shorten 0-3 (0-2 frees), L. Concannon, B. Shorten 0-2 each, T. O’Leary and P. Buckley 0-1 each.
Scorers for Naomh Abán: M. Ó Cróiníin 0-4 (0-3 frees), C. Murphy (0-1 free), T. Scannell, D. O’Sullivan 0-2 each, D. Keohane. D. Lyons and S. McCarthy (free) 0-1 each.
BÉAL ATHAN GHAORTHAIDH: G. Ó Muirthile; S. Ó Duinnín, D. MacCarthaigh, N. O Duinnín; A. Ó Loingsigh, S Ó Donnachú, B. Ó Coinceannain; L Ó Concúir, C. Ó Tuama; L Ó Coinceannanain, T Ó Laoire, C Ó Duinnín; B. Shorten, A. Coinceannanain, L. Shorten.
Subs: P Ó Buachalla for C Ó Duinnín (39m), N Ó Laoire for T. Ó Laoire (53).
NAOMH ABÁN: D. MacCarthaigh; Amhlaoibh. Ó Loinsigh, S. Ó Mathúna, C. Ó Deasúna; D. Ó Scanaill, Antaine Ó Loinsigh, C Ó Tuama; T Scanaill, S Ó Laoighaire; S. Ó Suilleabhain, M Ó Cróinin, D Ó Liathain; C de Hide, C Ó Murchu, D. Ó Ceochain.
Subs: S. MacCarthaigh for Ó Liathain (49m), L MacSuibhne for D Ó Scanaill (52).
Referee: C. Lane (Banteer).