Adding to their titles in 2009 and 2011, the Rosscarbery village cemented their reputation as one of the most consistent performers at senior level in the county following this impressive victory over the aristocrats of Cork football.
Micheál O’Sullivan used all his managerial powers to lift his squad for one final seasonal hurrah after their heartbreaking county final loss to Ballincollig a fortnight ago. And the former Cork senior stalwart got the desired response as his team carved out a stirring ten point win over a disjointed Nemo side.
“It’s definitely a consolation,” said O’Sullivan. “Fellahs came up here wanting to win – you could see that in the dressing room beforehand. We didn’t want to go back to West Cork on another long journey like we did two weeks ago with a bad feeling in the pits of our stomachs. Tonight’s win is a small consolation, but a win is a win; it’s the second competition but it’s something.
“Obviously the players were very down (after the county final) and the last thing we needed was to finish off the league – it was like a hole in the head to be honest. But then we said to ourselves it would be nice to get a good feeling about the whole year again. When you fall off, the easiest way to compensate is to get back on. In fairness, it was nice to win tonight.”
The Hayes forward triumvirate of Seamus, John and Declan tormented the Nemo defence from the first whistle, with Seamus Hayes picking up the man-of-the-match award, John Hayes bagging 2-4 while Declan Hayes put in a hardworking hour’s shift. At the other end, Michael Kelly deserves credit for subduing county star Paul Kerrigan, while the elegant Kevin McMahon and Mike Mennis edged the midfield battle.
The heavy rain that fell during the day made the ground surface quite soapy and players struggled to keep their feet. However, conditions didn’t appear to affect the nimble feet of John Hayes, who had 1-2 registered inside 11 minutes, his goal the result of a penalty rebound after a tremendous Micheál Aodh Martin save.
Minus James Masters, Nemo struggled up front but, thanks to the hard graft of Alan O’Donovan, David Niblock, Dylan Mehigan and Luke Connolly, the city side enjoyed their most productive spell over the next ten minutes. Barry O’Driscoll showed his class by notching two wonderful points to help reduce the margin to the minimum. Seamus Hayes replied with a point in the 22nd minute before O’Driscoll again popped up to arc a sublime point from a seemingly impossible angle to make it 1-3 to 0-5. This was as good as it got for the Trabeg club and quick-thinking approach play from Mike Mennis and John O’Rourke saw Seamus Hayes palm from close-range to the net. And, though Mehigan replied for Nemo before the break, the momentum certainly was behind the west Cork side.
Inside seven minutes of the second half, Ross had raced into a 3-6 to 0-6 lead, the brilliant John O’Rourke with two points and a goal blasted to the net by John Hayes following excellent approach play by Declan Hayes.
Nemo’s spirit was shattered and, while manager Steven O’Brien made a host of substitutions to help save face, there was no way back for the city side, themselves aiming for a third successive Kelleher Shield title.
Twice they hit the woodwork — O’Driscoll and Conor Horgan coming close — but Carbery had too much fire-power up front and added further points through Alan Jennings, John and Niall Hayes to cap a memorable performance.
“We always place a lot of importance on the Kelleher Shield,” added O’Sullivan. “There is a huge correlation between doing well in the county championship and doing well in the Kelleher Shield. You have to be top three or four in the Kelleher Shield if you are going to win the county championship.
“We felt we have improved this year. Obviously the county final got away from us, Ballincollig were the better team. We’re hoping we might improve again next year. We’ve a good group of players, they’re hungry. It will come off at some stage if we keep knocking.”
Scorers for Carbery Rangers: J Hayes 2-4 (0-2 frees); S Hayes 1-1; J O’Rourke 0-2; A Jennings, K McMahon and N Hayes 0-1 each.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: L Connolly 0-4 (0-3 frees); B O’Driscoll 0-3; C Horgan (free) and D Mehigan 0-1 each.
CARBERY RANGERS: P Shanahan; M Kelly, B Shanahan, S Murray; T O’Rourke, P Hodnett, J O’Riordan; K McMahon, M Minnis; A Jennings, S Hayes, J O’Rourke; D Hayes, J Hayes, B Hodnett.
Subs: A Roche for O’Riordan (32); S O’Neill for B Hodnett (48); C O’Rourke for Murray (53); D O’Brien for T O’Rourke, K Fitzpatrick for Jennings, N Hayes for S Hayes (57).
NEMO RANGERS: M A Martin; S McKeown, B O’Regan, D O’Donovan; C O’Brien, C O’Shea, A O’Donovan; D Niblock, P Morgan; P Kerrigan (capt), W Morgan, D Mehigan; C Horgan, L Connolly, B O’Driscoll.
Subs: B Twomey for P Morgan, D Barrett for D O’Donovan and R Kennedy for W Morgan (all 39 mins); S Martin for O’Brien (48); C Kearin for Kerrigan (55).
Referee: P O’Leary (Kilmurry)