Barr’s and Castlehaven fight to live another day

St Finbarr’s 0-10 Castlehaven 1-7

The Banteer official was one of the minority who didn’t see Castlehaven midfielder Sean Dineen clatter St Finbarr’s midfielder Eoin Keane around the head in the last two minutes — an incident that turned a fraught clash into something uglier — but no-one of his officials seemed able to confirm the identity of the culprit for Lane to take decisive action.

There was a naked volatility to the remaining minutes and additional time, and perhaps it was best for all concerned that Jason Sexton — reintroduced by Barr’s for the purpose of a last ditch 45 — pointed the placed ball to send this last-eight tie to a replay.

Between Sexton’s gutsy conversion and the final whistle, another ugly melee erupted, with mentors and officials from both sides front and centre, and players being felled with abandon.

Mr Lane’s report to Co Board should be interesting.

For the record, it’s fair to point out Dineen had been tripped — accidentally or otherwise — by Keane before he exacted his wholly disproportionate retribution, and if anything it probably served to galvanise the Barr’s into their rescue act while tampering with Castlehaven’s focus on the imminent prize of a semi-final berth. Sexton deserves immense credit for landing the ’45 that forced a replay. Out for the last year with a cruciate injury, he was hampered throughout and was replaced with eight minutes remaining, with Barr’s trailing 1-7 to 0-8. However, after Robert O’Mahony’s point, St Finbarr’s launched a determined late assault for an equaliser, with wing back Colin Lyons’ fisted effort deflected wide.

“When we turned around, he was already up and ready to come back on,” revealed Barr’s trainer Ian Keeler. “We just asked Jason one question: was he physically able to kick the 45. He said he was.”

Sexton was good to his word. It was a measure of the city side’s defiance they hung in there to the death. Having opened far more brightly than Castlehaven, St Finbarr’s led 0-6 to 0-2 as half-time approached. They were buoyed by the wind, though not nearly as much as the dominance of their midfielders, Ian Leahy and Eoin Keane, who finished with four points between them. Though they lost Ronan Curran to a calf injury, it wasn’t as big a blow as the only goal of the game which arrived in the 28th minute. Castlehaven’s Mark Collins, being well held by Colin Lyons to that point, never seemed to have full control of the ball as he slalomed his way through the heart of Barr’s defence to goal.

With the impetus and the second half wind on their side, suddenly it was Castlehaven shaping the momentum. Damien Cahalane typified their front foot mentality, soaring to field a Barr’s free in the square at one end, and hitting the upright with a long range effort at the other. Though Brian Hurley was snuffed out by Michael Shields, Stephen Hurley was winning an abundance of ball in the left corner. If only he could have converted some of the chances he helped create...

Before his late rush of blood, Castlehaven midfielder Sean Dineen made an altogether more praiseworthy intervention as he burst through a phalanx of challenges to blast over an inspirational Castlehaven point in the 52nd minute. In such a tense environment, a two point lead can seem like a yawning chasm.

Maybe there was a perception that the city southsiders might wilt west of Inishannon, but relentless effort from Lyons, Shields and Glen O’Connor in the half back line, and Jim O’Donoghue around midfield saw them back within a point with five minutes left. When it all went pear-shaped in the 58th minute, referee Lane thought he had corroborative evidence from one of his linesmen, but apparently the latter was unsure which of the Haven midfielders was involved. The St Finbarr’s mentors, and a lot of the crowd, were in no doubt.

The irony was that when a player was eventually sent off, it was Barrs wing back Lyons for a second yellow in the last act of a dramatic climax.

The replay date has yet to be finalised, but there may be some boardroom discussion in the meantime.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: J Sexton (0-3, two frees, one 45); I. Leahy, E. Keane (0-2 each), R. O’Mahony (0-2, one free), C. McCarthy (0-1).

Scorers for Castlehaven: M. Collins (1-3, one free); B. Hurley (0-2), S. Dineen, S. Hurley (0-1 each).

ST FINBARR’S: D Murphy; A. O’Connor, R. O’Dwyer, J. Burns; C. Lyons, M. Shields, G. O’Connor; I. Leahy, E. Keane; P. Wiley, C. McCarthy, J. O’Donoghue; R. O’Mahony, R. Curran, J. Sexton.

Subs: E. Finn for Curran (18); I. Maguire for Sexton (52); Sexton for Wiley (60+6).

CASTLEHAVEN: P. Hurley; D. Limrick, L. Collins, T. O’Leary; M. Cahalane, D Cahalane, C. Hayes; S. Dineen, D. Hurley; S. Cahalane, M. Collins, A. Cahalane; R. Whelton. B. Hurley, S. Hurley.

Subs: Shane Hurley for A. Cahalane (48); S. Nolan for Whelton (51).

Referee: C. Lane (Banteer).

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