“From underage to adult club, everyone drives on with one goal and that is to win,” said Haven selector James McCarthy afterwards. “We said all the time, ‘we’re doing this for the parish, not for ourselves’.”
In the final, they’ll meet the side they beat in the 2013 decider, Nemo Rangers. “It’s extra special when it’s Nemo Rangers,” added McCarthy.
“Nemo have been the benchmark for us and still are. They play the same attractive football as we try to play and we saw that in 2013 final – one of the best county finals in a long, long time.”
Yesterday’s derby shoot-out with Skibbereen wasn’t bad either. A three-point victory over their ‘townie’ next-door neighbours was arguably a false reflection of Haven’s superiority over a courageous Rossa outfit, one that’s still in its infancy in terms of development.
The losers had some brilliant performers, especially in corner-back Daniel Hazel and Donal Óg Hodnett but, having lost in four semi-finals in recent times, the breakthrough cannot be far away for this young Rossa side who had two 17-year-olds on the field at the finish.
Haven’s Achilles heel, meanwhile, remains a propensity to flit in and out of games, allowing opposition eat into sometimes substantial leads. If Haven could package their opening 10 minutes and use it as a template of how to beat an opposition over 60 minutes, then they’ll be hard to stop.
They raced into a 1-6 to 0-1 lead, moving the ball with intent and finding the range from a variety of angles and distances with Brian Hurley in imperious form.
However, Castlehaven struggled to maintain this standard and allowed Skibb to gradually erode an eight-point lead. Near the end, there was the proverbial kick of the ball in it but Rossa could not eke out an equalising goal.
Ultimately, allowing Haven establish such a lead left Rossa with too much to do, and losing the influential Kevin Davis at half-time was a huge blow as was their lack of discipline in the closing quarter when three of their players received black cards.
Still, amazingly, they could have snatched an equaliser.
Haven, too, lacked discipline in the second half, a half that didn’t have a nasty undercurrent but too much cynical play led to five black cards with Roland Whelton and Seán Cahalane sent to the line along with Richie Hodnett, Mark Collins and top-scorer Donal Óg Hodnett.
The foundation for Haven’s success was laid down in the first quarter, and, playing with the wind, the quality of their football provided some of the game’s best scores. Brian Hurley opened proceedings before having a goal disallowed for challenging Ryan Price on the line.
Then his brother Michael finished off a fluid three-man move before Hodnett curled over a beautiful effort. Rossa’s intervention was brief as Haven incessantly raided the Skibb goal. Seán Dineen pointed before Brian Hurley showed his class to goal in the sixth minute as Haven continued to display a clinical edge up front with Stephen, Brian and Paudie Hurley stretching the lead to 1-6 to 0-1 by the 9th minute.
However, Rossa turned a corner in the second quarter and points from Hodnett, Daniel Hazel (their best player), Davis (2) and Paudie Crowley saw the margin reduced to two entering injury-time, but a Brian Hurley point before the break gave Haven that extra half-time cushion on a score of 1-8 to 0-6.
A stop-start second half saw standards drop though both sides registered three apiece inside the third quarter. The big talking point was a penalty award to Haven in the 39th minute when Shane Nolan appeared to be fouled, but Brian Hurley’s spot-kick lacked precision and Ryan Price turned it out for a 45 which Paudie Hurley converted.
Rossa came close to goaling in the 47th minute when Colin Crowley fielded majestically near goal but shot wide.
Shane Nolan completed a fine three-man move to stretch his side’s lead to six points (1-13 to 0-10), before Conor McCarthy got the final touch to a rebound from David Shannon’s effort to give Rossa hope in the closing plays.
Those closing moments were spoilt by further black card offences, and Rossa came agonisingly close to notching that equaliser when Long shot wide.
B Hurley (1-5, 0-2f); P Hurley (0-2, 1f, 1 45); S Dineen, M Hurley, S Hurley, D Cahalane, S Nolan and M Collins (0-1 each)
C McCarthy (1-1); D Óg Hodnett (0-4, 1f); K Davis (0-2, 1f); D Hazel, P Crowley and T Hegarty (0-1 each).
P Hurley; J O’Regan, D Limrick, T O’Leary; R Whelton, Damien Cahalane, C Hayes; M Collins, S Dineen; S Collins, S Hurley, S Cahalane; S Nolan, B Hurley, M Hurley.
Darragh Cahalane for S Hurley (44); D Hegarty for Nolan (52); D Hurley for S Cahalane (black card, 59).
R Price; D Hazel, P Nealon, E Nealon; M Collins, J O’Sullivan, P Crowley; S Carmody, C McCarthy; R Long, K Davis, T Hegarty; D Óg Hodnett, D Shannon, S O’Brien. Subs: S Fitzgerald for Long (15); D Hourihane for Davis (ht); R Hodnett for Carmody (48); R Long for R Hodnett (black card,49); O Collins for Collins (black card, 55).
K Murphy (Nemo Rangers).