Gary Murphy was the inspiraiton for Castletownbere as they saw off Naomh Abán in the fourth round of the premier intermediate football championship at Bantry last night.
The talented corner-forward contributed eight points of his side’s winning total on a night Donagh Wiseman and Andrew O’Sullivan’s excellent displays secured the Beara side’s qualification for the quarter-finals.
“We are very happy with that performance and delighted to get through,” said Castletownbere selector Terry O’Neill.
“It was only five or six years ago that Naomh Abán were a senior club and they still have very good footballers so we went into this game as underdogs. The commitment we showed out there tonight says everything about this group of players and thankfully we got three vital goals to ensure our win.”
Both sides were guilty of turning over possession during a scrappy opening before Micheál Ó Laoire sliced through the Castletownbere defence and billowed the net after two minutes. Ó Laoire set up Niall Ó Ceallaigh for a point shortly after and it took a converted Gary Murphy free to settle Castletownbere nerves.
Naomh Abán’s ability to draw fouls saw Micheál Ó Crónín convert a free to restore his side’s two-point advantage but a fast-paced encounter ebbed and flowed throughout the first half with Gary Murphy and Donncha Ó Crónín exchanging points after 12 minutes.
Unfortunately for Naomh Abán, that would be their final score of the half as Castletownbere assumed control and rattled off 1-6 without reply.
Andrew O’Sullivan sent over a point on the quarter hour to a make it 1-3 to 0-3 while Gary Murphy proved a constant thorn in the Naomh Abán side and raised two white flags in quick succession to bring Castletownbere to within a point of the lead.
The Baile Bhúirne club struggled to withstand their opponents’ constant attacks as Castletownbere surged in front courtesy of Liam Hanley and Gary Murphy (free) efforts.
Additional Murphy and Andrew O’Sullivan points preceded a Dean Murphy goal on 30 minutes as the Castletownbere forward punched the ball into the net to hand his team a 1-9 to 1-3 interval lead.
A superb James Power save prevented Niall Ó Ceallaigh from netting a certain goal immediately after the restart but the award of a penalty 60 seconds later presented Naomh Abán with another goal-scoring opportunity.
Micheál Ó’Cronín fired home the spot-kick to register his team’s first score in 20 minutes and the same player popped over a free to further reduce the deficit.
Castletownbere moved the ball down the other end from the ensuing kick-out however, and substitute Jason Walsh forced the ball over the line to suck the air out of their opponents’ comeback.
It was nip and tuck for the next 10 minutes with each team kicking two points apiece to leave Castletownbere 2-11 to 2- 6 ahead heading into the closing stages.
A second Jason Walsh goal cemented his side’s victory four minutes from the end on an evening Castletownbere re-emphasised their premier intermediate championship credentials with an impressive nine-point winning margin.
G Murphy 0-8 (six frees), K Walsh 2-0, D Murphy 1-0, A O’Sullivan 0-2, L Hanley, G Healy 0-1 each.
M Ó Crónín 1-4 (1-0 penalty, three frees), M Ó Laoire 1-0, N Ó Ceallaigh, D Ó Crónín 0-1 each.
J Power; T Collins, D Torres, L Harrington; J Harrington, D Wiseman, C Murphy; A O’Sullivan, D Fenton; L Hanley, S McCarthy, D B O’Sullivan; G Murphy, D Murphy, G Healy.
J Walsh for J Harrington (24, injured), J Murphy for S McCarthy (44), D Dunne for G Healy (58), R Murphy for L Hanley (59).
M Ó Donnchú; S Ó Riada, S Ó Mathúna, É Ó Críodáin; N Ó Ceallaigh, D Ó Scannaill, D Ó Ceallaigh; M Ó Laoire; T Ó Scannaill; D Ó Croinin, M Ó Croinin, S Ó Laoire; D Ó Ceocháin, M Ó Duinnin, C Ó Murchu.
C Ó Murchú for T Ó Scanaill (37), S Mac Cárthaigh for M Ó Donnchú (41), L Ó Luasa for E Ó Críodáin (41).
E Sheehy (Newcestown)