Martin Brennan was the toast of Fermoy as he landed an injury-time winner to secure victory over Castlehaven at Brinny yesterday.
Playing a senior championship tie for the first time in 55 years, Fermoy started 12 of the side which began last year’s Premier IFC final and, though they fell behind to Cathal Maguire’s opener for Castlehaven inside three minutes, it was the only time they trailed.
Kieran Morrison’s goal put them ahead and they were three points in front, 1-6 to 0-6, early in the second half. While Castlehaven twice drew level in the closing stages, the West Cork side couldn’t hit the front and Brennan scored the winner in the 63rd minute.
Naturally, Fermoy manager Mick Hennessy was delighted with how his side had taken to the higher level.
“We believe in ourselves,” he said.
“Yes, we’re just up from premier intermediate and we’re under no illusions, we’re not going to go in and tear things apart, but we’ll go bit by bit.
“We came here with a mentality that we were going to win and you could see with those guys walking off, they had done their job, they came down to win it. Castlehaven are a good team, I’m sure they’ll be waiting for us later on, but it was a great performance.
“We got hit, we had a couple of injuries during the week and another fella had to pull out during the warm-up, but the strength in depth is phenomenal. I’m super proud of everyone.”
Morrison’s well-taken goal made it 1-0 to 0-1, but in its wake, Castlehaven lost defender Ciarán O’Sullivan, who was red-carded for an incident, as Fermoy goalkeeper Liam Coleman was preparing to take a 45. Coleman converted when play resumed, which set the tone for the remainder of the half, the Fermoy lead oscillating between a point and two points, centre-back Darragh O’Carroll and midfielder Tomás Clancy their standouts.
Morrison’s point on 24 minutes, created by Brian O’Sullivan, Pádraig de Róiste and Ruairí O’Hagan, left it 1-4 to 0-5 and, while Mark Collins replied with his third from a tight angle after a nice Haven move, O’Hagan’s free, which he won himself, ensured that there was a two-point, half-time lead.
Clancy’s second point put Fermoy a goal ahead on the resumption, but Castlehaven replied again, through Collins with a free which had been brought in and another after Damien Cahalane was fouled.
A black card for Maguire dented Haven’s momentum, but Fermoy couldn’t capitalise, as their wides tally mounted. Martin Brennan pointed to make it 1-7 to 0-8 on 40, but it was their last score for 10 minutes and Collins notched another Haven free before sub Michael Hurley — unable to start but brought on — made an impact with a fine score to level it.
In the 57th minute, a superb Pádraig de Róiste free from the left put Fermoy in front again, but the Haven almost forged back in front in the final minute of normal time. After exchanging passes with Collins, Damien Cahalane surged towards goal. As things opened up, he went for three points, but Coleman saved well with his leg. Play was brought back, however, and Collins’s free meant extra time loomed.
While they lost John O’Regan to another red card, extra time would have brought the Haven back to their full complement, but it wasn’t required as Brennan had the final say.
“They showed fierce character,” said Hennessy.
“I know everyone wants the ball to go forward at a hundred miles an hour, but there are times when you have to keep it and I thought we managed the game very well. We’ll take a break after the hurling for a couple of weeks and then we’ll drive on after that. It’s great that we’re looking at a third round now rather than a second round. I’m so proud of the boys, I won’t lie, I was a bit emotional there at the time.
“It’s fantastic, coming up here, facing Castlehaven; a scalp, focused, got ready, fantastic.”
Scorers for Fermoy: K Morrison 1-1, T Clancy, M Brennan 0-2 each, L Coleman (45), D O’Flynn, P de Róiste (free), R O’Hagan (free) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Castlehaven: M Collins 0-7 (four frees), C Maguire 0-2, P Hurley (free), M Hurley 0-1 each.
FERMOY: L Coleman; E Clancy, J Payne, P Clancy; B O’Sullivan, D O’Carroll, A Baragry; S Aherne, T Clancy; D O’Flynn, P de Róiste, D Dawson; M Brennan, R O’Hagan, K Morrison.
Subs: A O’Connor for O’Hagan (46), R Morrison for Clancy (54).
CASTLEHAVEN: P Hurley; J O’Regan, R Walsh, C O’Sullivan; C Hayes, Damien Cahalane, R Whelton; M Collins, Darragh Cahalane; S Hurley, C Maguire, J Walsh; S Cahalane, C Cahalane, C Nolan.
Subs: M Hurley for Nolan (36), S Dineen for Maguire (38, black card), K O’Donovan for S Hurley (54).
Referee: C Dineen (Douglas) --