Harrington happy as Bantry prevail

Bantry Blues 2-8 Na Piarsaigh 0-6: Richard Harrington wore the look of a man who just had his shoulders relieved of a heavy load which had stubbornly sat there since the first Friday in May.

Harrington happy as Bantry prevail

That was the evening Bantry’s championship plans were thrown into disarray by Éire Óg - the 3-10 to 2-6 defeat arriving on the back of six consecutive league defeats.

It left Harrington with the sizeable challenge of sifting through the wreckage and rebuilding their summer campaign. The success of that operation became apparent in the final quarter of Saturday evening’s second round clash against last year’s defeated finalists with Bantry outscoring Na Piarsaigh by 1-3 to 0-1 to record an eight-point win.

“It is a massive relief,” said Bantry boss Harrington. “Even though fellas in Bantry weren’t saying it, there was a lot of discomfort in the club. People were wondering why were we going so badly and what were the problems.

“We really were unlucky in games. We let ourselves down in the closing stages and late scores killed us. Confidence was an issue but hopefully that will no longer be a problem.

“One reporter stated a couple of weeks ago that Bantry have one bad performance every year and it lets them down. This year definitely we were on a very bad losing streak, we lost seven games, we were bottom of Division 2 and, as a result, confidence was our biggest problem. I knew if we could turn one corner we could drive on. But we needed to do that on Saturday.

“There was a nervousness in our first-half performance because of that league campaign not going well. We’ve turned the corner now and hopefully we can drive on.” Harrington pointed to the 1-1 in first-half stoppage time as crucial in delivering Bantry their first competitive victory of the year.

The opening period proved a most forgetful affair, neither side adapting particularly well to the inclement weather conditions or swirling breeze.

Na Piarsaigh managed a meagre two first-half points, a gap of 23-minutes separating their white flags. Bantry, meanwhile, fared little better, failing to raise a flag of any description in the opening quarter.

Tied at 0-2 apiece entering time added on, John Harrington and Ruairi Deane put Shane McCarthy inside the cover and the corner-forward obliged in rifling home the opening goal of the contest.

The score stemmed from a superb turnover at the other end, Graham Canty stifling Keith Buckley before the latter was penalised for over-carrying.

The hard-working Sean Warren (0-2) and Alan Keating (free) succeeded in closing the deficit early upon the change of ends, but the city side would come no closer than within three-points of their opponents – an over-reliance on Warren, who finished the game as their sole contributor from play, far from aiding their cause. Seanie O’Leary, hugely impressive for the winners at midfield, re-established their four-point cushion and they could have been out the gap but for a smart save from Na Piarsaigh ‘keeper Jordan O’Connor to deny Ruairi Deane from a 55th minute penalty. Deane split the posts in the subsequent action and although Warren continued to keep Na Piarsaigh in touch, their fate was sealed when full-forward Stephen Coughlan goaled after 58 minutes. Niall Canty completed their successful championship relaunch.

Scorers for Bantry Blues: S McCarthy (1-1); S Coughlan (1-0); S O’Leary, S O’Neill (0-2 each); N Canty, R Deane, A Coakley (0-1 each).

Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: S Warren (0-4); A Keating (0-2, 0-2 frees).

BANTRY BLUES: M Keohane; J O’Leary, K Harrington, K Deane; A Mullins, G Canty, N Canty; S O’Leary, D Daly; S O’Neill, R Deane, J Harrington; A Coakley, S Coughlan, S McCarthy.

Subs: T Downey for J O’Leary (55).

NA PIARSAIGH: J O’Connor; A Dennehy, S O’Sullivan, E Moynihan; K Buckley, S Óg Ó hAilpín, T Lawton; T O hAilpín, P Rourke; E Hanifin, A Hogan, C O’Mahony; A Keating, S Warren, S Glasgow.

Sub: P Gould for Glasgow (39).

Referee: D Murnane (Macroom).

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