HAVING missed the drawn game through injury, returning All-Ireland captain Graham Canty’s presence at midfield for Bantry Blues in Carrigadrohid assisted their passage through to a semi-final meeting with Mallow in the Cork Premier IFC.
But, their victory over a Nemo Rangers side which waited too long to find their rhythm was secured because of their overall strength.
In essence, Canty’s principal value to his team was as a steadying influence on the ball and off it, with direct opponent Brian Twomey preventing him from dominating in the air. In this aspect of play, the second Bantry midfielder, Mark Delaney, was more prominent, particularly over the opening 20 minutes – when the West Cork side were dominant almost all over the field.
In fact, for all of their determined – and at times, skilful – play, Nemo never looked capable of winning the game, with their goal coming in the third minute of injury time at the finish.
Bantry were three points up by the 9th minute (the first two coming from Declan Barron) and in another four minutes they had the ball in the net, through David Power. That was quickly followed by Nemo’s opening score, from Shane Marshall, and after that they were to be confined to two scores in the last ten minutes of the half.
It was simply a matter that Bantry had the capacity to win much more possession, with Ruairi Deane quick to make an impression on the right wing and big full-forward Steven Coughlan a significant threat. Back in defence, they were nearly always comfortable against a Nemo attack which often struggled to make openings.
Approaching half-time, after a Ger Kearns free, Nemo were a bit more organised in defence and it enabled them to go forward more frequently. However, progress was slow despite the efforts of Sean O’Brien, Marshall, Alan Cronin and Alan Morgan. At the break (preceded by two minor skirmishes which led to only one yellow card), Bantry were in front 1-5 to 0-3.
The story of a second-half, in which both sides only managed a single score in the third quarter, was of a lowering of Bantry’s standard and a corresponding improvement from Nemo. And that was helped by strong play from Gary Murphy in defence, and consistent effort from the likes of Niall Geary, O’Brien and Marshall.
Interestingly, Nemo’s point came from substitute Joe Kavanagh in the 44th minute, immediately after his (belated) introduction. And after Michael O’Sullivan pointed for Bantry in the 62nd minute, the game looked over until the Nemo goal – set up by Morgan and scored by David Nation – rewarded their players for their persistency. But, it was a case of too little, too late.
Scorers for Bantry: D. Power (1-1); D. Barron (0-3, one free); S. Coughlan (0-2); M. O’Sullivan (0-1).
Nemo Rangers: D. Nation (1-0); G. Marshall, G. Kearns (free), S. O’Brien and J. Kavanagh (0-1 each).
BANTRY BLUES: D. Murray; D. O’Sullivan, R. Hennessy, N. Canty; K. O’Leary, K. Harrington, J. Downey; M. Delaney, G. Canty; R. Deane, S. O’Neill, D. McGrath; D. Barron, S. Coughlan, D. Power. Subs: S. Dromey for Power (21); J. Harrington for Hennessy (52); M. O’Sullivan for Coughlan (57); P. Lynch for O’Leary (inj) (60).
NEMO RANGERS: R. Heaphy; K. Stone, R. Murphy, S. McKeown; A. O’Reilly, N. Geary, O. Weldon; S. Twomey, B. Twomey; S. Horgan, G. Kearns, A. Cronin; S. Marshall, S. O’Brien, A. Morgan. Subs: G. Murphy for R. Murphy (inj) (7); D. Nation for Horgan (half-time); J. Kavanagh for Murphy (inj) (44); P. Horgan for S. Twomey (49).
Referee: Ger Sweeney (Glenville).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved