Carbery Rangers will face champions St Finbarr’s in the Cork SFC third round following a pulsating victory over west Cork rivals Castlehaven in Skibbereen on Saturday night.
A thriller from start to finish, two of the west’s fiercest rivals produced one of the best games of this year’s championship. Each side was punished for errors in front of goal, but it was Carbery Rangers who outlasted their opponents at the conclusion of 80 intense minutes.
The outcome of an encounter played out in front of a bumper attendance remained undecided until deep into extra-time. As darkness fell, Rangers’ talisman for so many years, John Hayes (who finished with 1-9), kicked the penultimate score before Brian Shanahan sealed a famous Rosscarbery victory.
“Our lads were really up for this game,” Carbery Rangers manager Micheal O`Sullivan admitted.
“It would have been very easy to have lost after conceding a seven-point lead in the second half and the goal right at the end.
We basically had to go and win that game three times tonight. The players showed great heart and determination and deserved everything they got out of it.
Before a ball was kicked, Brian Hurley and Robbie Kiely wrestled one another to the ground and prompted a brief melee before the aforementioned duo received yellow cards.
Aided by a strong wind, Rosscarbery moved 0-5 to 0-0 in front thanks to three John Hayes frees plus additional Brian Shanahan and John O’Rourke efforts. Using the full width of the pitch, Rangers built an impressive lead, but Castlehaven responded and trailed 0-7 to 0-6 courtesy of Mark Collins, Damien Cahalane, and Cathal Maguire’s accuracy on the stroke of half-time.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Carbery Rangers netted two goals in as many minutes. Kiely released corner-back Rob Hegarty who slid the ball under goalkeeper Paudie Hurley.
Castlehaven made a mess of the resulting kick-out and John Hayes gleefully accepted an open goal to make it 2-7 to 0-6 at the break.
A rampant Castlehaven fought back and reeled off seven unanswered points to level matters by the end of the third quarter. Michael Hurley, Brian Hurley, Cathal Maguire, and Mark Collins split the posts until Robbie Kiely and Brian Shanahan efforts stopped the rot and restored their team’s advantage.
Excitement reached fever-pitch heading into the final 10 minutes as the sides exchanged scores before a pair of John Hayes points looked to have won it on a scoreline of 2-12 to 0-15.
Alan Jennings was black-carded prior to the Rosscarbery side pressing the self destruct button. A defensive mix-up presented Catlehaven with a goalscoring opportunity a minute into injury-time. Full-back Ronan Walsh took his chance and palmed the ball into the net to force extra-time.
The first additional period began with Mark Collins handing the Haven their first lead of the evening, but John Hayes and John O’Rourke hit back within a couple of minutes.
Players were going down with cramp all over as O’Rourke landed a majestic score at the beginning of extra-time’s second period. Brian Hurley did likewise at the opposite end prior to Mark Collins levelling it up, 1-18 to 1-15, with three minutes to go.
Haven’s Jamie Walsh received a red card shortly after, but John Hayes and Brian Shanahan had the final say, splitting the posts to send Carbery Rangers through.
“The performance and I suppose the result more than anything else will mentally be a big boost going into the Barrs game,” Micheal O’Sullivan commented.
“As for the short turnaround, would you rather be playing than not playing next weekend? We’d be hoping we don’t have too many casualties but we are improving and have a lot of good young players (coming through). The future is bright and we will have a cut off the Barrs.”
Scorers for Carbery Rangers: J Hayes (1-9, 5 frees), J O’Rourke and B Shanahan (0-3 each), R Hegarty (1-0), R Kiely and A Jennings (0-1 each).
Scorers for Castlehaven: M Collins (0-8, 5 frees), B Hurley (0-4), M Hurley (0-3), R Walsh (1-0), C Maguire (0-2), D Cahalane (0-1, 1 45’).
P Shanahan; J O’Riordan, T O’Rourke, R Hegarty; P Hodnett, R Kiely, J O’Riordan; J Fitzpatrick, B Hodnett; A Jennings, P Hurley, J Hayes; J O’Rourke, B Shanahan (captain), D Hayes.
S Hayes for B Hodnett (ht), C Hennessy for P Hurley (41), S Murray for R Kiely (53, inj), M Mennis for A Jennings (60, black card), Declan Hayes for D Hayes (79).
P Hurley; J O’Regan, D Cahalane, R Walsh; C Hayes, D McCarthy, J Walsh; S Dineen, D Cahalane; R Whelton, M Hurley, S Collins; C Maguire, M Collins (capt), B Hurley.
C Nolan for S Dineen (11), A Whelton for D Cahalane (53), S O’Driscoll for R Whelton (58), R Maguire for C Maguire (66, inj), D Whelton for S Collins (68, inj), S Hurley for S O’Driscoll (70), C Maguire for C Hayes (70).
C Lane (Banteer).