Clyda Rovers’ absolute faith in their ability to triumph in this Cork SFC fourth round replay in Ballyanley on Saturday ultimately paid a rich dividend when they took the lead for the first time after 50 minutes and stayed ahead in the face of a brave attempt by Newcestown to force extra-time.
Critical in deciding the outcome was Sean O’Connell’s goal at the three-quarters stage because, coming a minute after Cárthach Keane put the ball in the net at the other end, it gave them a vital psychological edge.
Winning coach Ned English praised his players for their composure, saying: “Even when we went down a goal we still kept going at them. Newcestown put it up to us, but the lads dug in and we deserved the win.
“Whatever misfortune occurred on the night we still came back and dealt with and that’s the mark of a great team. Two years ago they were down and out when they lost very early in the championship after having lost three intermediate finals in a row. At that stage you’d say they were a team that was ‘blown’. [Now], they are here in the quarter-final!”
Newcestown selector Tom Wilson agreed that conceding the goal so quickly was a serious blow.
“When we got the goal we felt we were in the ascendancy. They scored so quickly and then we lost both Odhrán [Keane] and Cárthach [Keane] through injuries and Fionn [Keane] got a black card. We just ran out of bodies. We have a huge lot of young lads on the bench and they are just not ready for this intensity yet.”
The game was a mere four minutes old when the first of the black cards was shown to Clyda wing-back Oliver O’Hanlon, who was followed to the line by team-mate Niall O’Mullane in injury-time, with Newcestown losing Darren Heffernan after 18 minutes and Fionn Keane 17 minutes from the end.
Macroom official Dave Murnane, much stricter than the referee in the draw, also issued a number of yellow cards and might even have black-carded another player or two near the end.
While Newcestown led 0-3 to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter, there was little between the teams. Kenneth Fitzgerald was impressing at centre-back for Clyda, with Cian O’Sullivan and Conor Flanagan very active in the half-forward line and Paudie Kissane was influential once he settled at midfield.
Sean Ryan and Martin O’Brien handled a lot of ball in the Newcestown attack, which benefited from Cárthach Keane’s inclusion this time and while Kissane had the teams level after 14 minutes, Newcestown deserved to be in front at the break, 0-6 to 0-5.
Notably, while Clyda started the second half impressively, building up several promising attacks, they had nothing to show for their efforts on the scoreboard. In contrast, Newcestown’s better finishing yielded two good scores from Martin O’Brien before Clyda persistence was rewarded with O’Connell and O’Sullivan points.
That left just a point between the teams after 42 minutes before O’Brien set up Cárthach Keane for the Newcestown goal two minutes later. This was rapidly followed by O’Connell’s goal, set up by the industrious James Murphy. Then, after an O’Connell equaliser, Murphy put them in front for the first time after 50 minutes.
It set the scene for a hectic climax with James Desmond missing the chance of a Newcestown equaliser before Murphy again, with a well-placed free off the ground, opened up a two-point gap. And that was the way it stayed, after Daniel Twomey and substitute Seamus Ronayne swapped scores in injury-time.
Scorers for Clyda Rovers: S O’Connell 1-4 (1f); J Murphy 0-3 (2f); P Kissane, D O’Callaghan, C O’Sullivan and S Ronayne 0-1 each.
Scorers for Newcestown: C Keane 1-1; M O’Brien 0-3; D Twomey 0-3 (2f); T Twomey and J Desmond (f) 0-1 each.
CLYDA ROVERS: C Conway; R Carey, N O’Mullane, C Kenny; Conor O’Sullivan, K Fitzgerald, O O’Hanlon; P Kissane, F O’Shea; Cian O’Sullivan, C Flanagan, G Carey; J Murphy, D O’Callaghan, S O’Connell.
Subs: Seamus Ronayne for O’Hanlon (black card, 5); R. Willis for O’Mullane (black card, 31); Sean Ronayne for G. Carey (46).
NEWCESTOWN: C White; O Keane, J Crowley, J Desmond; E Kelly, D Twomey, M McSweeney; F Keane, M Kelly; L Meade, M O’Brien, D Heffernan; C Keane, T Twomey, S Ryan.
Subs: C O’Neill for Heffernan (black card, 20); J. Curran for O Keane (inj, 36); J O’Toole for F Keane (black card, 47); R Bradfield for C Keane (inj, 52).
Referee: David Murnane (Macroom).