Ilen Rovers retained their Bon Secours Hospital Cork premier senior football status following a commanding display to see off Bishopstown at Clonakilty on Sunday.
The west Cork side utilised their forward line to good effect throughout a dominant 60-minute display and consigned their opponents to the senior A grade in 2021.
Bishopstown could have little complaint with the result following a disappointing performance. Substitutes Denis Crowley and Ódhran Devlin made positive contributions but the city side lacked Ilen’s finishing ability and played catch-up for most of the hour.
Rovers got off to a strong start and maintained a high tempo before going on to kick 18 points. Sean O’Donovan, Dan Mac Eoin and Stephen Leonard’s movement was a joy to behold and it came as little surprise that the trio accounted for most of the winners' scores.
“It is a really important win and the other thing about winning is that it should give us plenty of momentum going into next year,” Ilen Rovers manager Flor O’Driscoll admitted.
“I am absolutely delighted with the performance and obviously, the outcome is what it was all about. We did struggle for scores which put us on the backfoot in our group games. We weren’t perfect (today) and probably should have kicked a few more but the way we opened them up was really encouraging.”
Rovers entered last weekend’s must-win play-off following defeats to neighbours Newcestown, Carbery Rangers and Castlehaven. Bishopstown’s 2020 championship form was little better following similar losses to Valley Rovers, Nemo Rangers and Douglas.
Dara Costelloe opened the scoring but Bishopstown would have to wait over 15 minutes for their next point. In that timeframe, Ilen built a 0-5 to 0-1 advantage courtesy of Dan Mac Eoin, Stephen Leonard, Sean O’Donovan (two), and Peter O’Driscoll efforts.
Denis Crowley’s early introduction gave Bishopstown an additional attacking outlet and the city side pulled a goal back through Brian Clifford prior to a Simon Collins point.
That was as good as it got, however, as their opponents moved 0-10 to 1-2 in front at the interval through Mac Eoin, O’Donovan, and Dermot Hegarty points.
Ódhran Devlin came off the bench during the break and kicked three consecutive scores (two frees) but the goal Bishopstown required to get back in the game never materialised.
Instead, a free-scoring Ilen saw O’Donovan and Mac Eoin contribute six additional scores and Stephen Leonard add a brace as Rovers comfortably saw out the remaining quarter.
A late Paul O’Flynn free was scant consolation for a Bishopstown side who ended their campaign with a fourth consecutive defeat. As for Ilen, retaining their premier senior status was crucial for a West Cork club hoping to kick on next year.
S O’Donovan (0-7, 0-1 mark, 0-1 free), D Mac Eoin (0-6, 0-2 frees), S Leonard (0-3), Peter O’Driscoll and D Hegarty (0-1 each).
Ó Devlin (0-3, 2 frees), B Clifford (1-0), P O’Flynn (0-1 free), D Costelloe and S Collins (0-1 each).
D O’Sullivan; Paddy O’Driscoll, D O’Driscoll, P Minihane; B Leonard, S Minihane, T O’Regan; C O’Driscoll, Peadar O’Driscoll; D Hegarty, S O’Donovan (captain), Peter O’Driscoll; S Leonard, D Mac Eoin, K Lynch.
C O’Driscoll for B Leonard (35), A O’Sullivan for K Lynch (36), C Harrington for D Hegarty (52), H O’Neill for D Mac Eoin (61).
K O’Halloran; S O’Rourke, E Byrne, D Quaid; M Power, J O’Sullivan (captain), D Lester; M Driscoll, J Murphy; B Clifford, P O’Flynn, E Deasy; S Collins, L O’Driscoll, D Costelloe.
D Crowley for J Murphy (17), Ó Devlin for L O’Driscoll (ht), N Gough for M Driscoll (ht, inj), J Costelloe for D Lester (44), S Lordan for E Deasy (51), N O’Donovan for D Costelloe (54, blood), D Costelloe for N O’Donovan (57).
J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).