Having lost the previous three finals, Clyda Rovers must to do things the hard way if they are to reach a fourth PIFC decider in a row after they were beaten by Bantry Blues at Kilmichael on Saturday.
Having scored the first three points of the second-half, Clyda led 0-6 to 0-5 by the 44th minute of a dogged encounter that threatened to boil over at times. But they failed to score again as Bantry found an extra gear in the final quarter.
Stephen Coughlan’s 48th minute goal, after Michael O’Sullivan equalised, was the visible catalyst for West Cork side’s resurgence, but some excellent performances further out the field greatly influenced the result. Cork captain Graham Canty dominated at midfield for all but the early stages of the second period while his partner Mark Delaney and Ruairí Deane at wing-forward also impressed as the game developed.
In defence, Kevin Harrington and Donagh O’Sullivan both shone against a below par Clyda attack. Only one of their six points, Conor Flanagan’s second-half opener, came from play. Indeed Flanagan and Cork senior Paudie Kissane accounted for all their scores.
What will disappoint them most is that it took 20 first-half minutes for them to get off the mark, Kissane pointing a 45 after Declan Barron had scored three points for Bantry. Things could have been very different had Clyda centre-back Oliver O’Hanlon not wasted a goal chance in the second minute, but while Bantry were enjoying the bulk of the possession, they were far too wasteful in front of the posts.
By half-time, Clyda had rallied to get back to within two points, 0-5 to 0-3, and the switching of Ray Carey with his brother Gavin, bringing the Cork player to wing-back, helped them gain greater possession.
Points from Flanagan (2) and Kissane had them in front as Bantry’s woes in front of goal continued, but O’Sullivan equalised on the three-quarter mark, and then sub Tadhg Downey played a lovely ball into full-forward Coughlan, who turned and fired past Cian Conway. That made it 1-6 to 0-6 and from there Bantry improved again, Deane and O’Sullivan with points to secure the win and condemn Clyda to round two.
Scorers for Bantry Blues: D Barron 0-3 (0-2f), S Coughlan 1-0, M O’Sullivan (0-2f), R Deane 0-2 each, G Canty 0-1.
Scorers for Clyda: C Flanagan (0-2f), P Kissane (0-2f, 0-1 45) 0-3 each.
BANTRY BLUES: D Murray; J Harrington, D O’Sullivan, K Deane; N Canty, K Harrington, J Downey; M Delaney, G Canty; R Deane, D Barron, S O’Neill; D Power, S Coughlan, M O’Sullivan.
Subs: T Downey for J Harrington (42), A Hamilton for O’Neill (56).
CLYDA ROVERS: C Conway; D O’Mullane, R Carey, C Kenny; K Fitzgerald, O O’Hanlon, G Carey; P Kissane, J O’Sullivan; F O’Shea, N O’Mullane, C Flanagan; B Mulcahy, C Ronayne, C O’Sullivan.
Subs: P O’Mullane for Fitzgerald (33), J Murphy for Ronayne (50), M O’Brien for J O’Sullivan (58).
Referee: D O’Leary (Kiskeam).
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