IT’S an all-city Cork SFC final, a battle between probably the two best sides in the county at the moment, as St Finbarr’s – albeit, riding their luck – wore down wasteful Carbery Rangers under lights at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday to book a final date with Nemo Rangers.
No question, Carbery Rangers will be disappointed with the outcome. Forced to line out without corner-back Sean Hayes, who picked up an injury before the match to be replaced by Gearóid Ryan, they had enough possession and enough chances to win the match.
In the end, however, the Barr’s had both the patience and composure to prevail after weathering a third quarter storm that threatened to ruin their title dream. And Barr’s coach Tony Leahy was pleased afterwards. “We really had to dig deep, Carbery Rangers were real hungry. No question the experience of losing last year’s final to Clon stood to us big time. But, as a unit, I really thought we played well.
“There are 30 players in the squad, no big stars, and when the going got tough tonight the players stood together and showed what they can do. That’s what it’s all about.”
No argument there for united and concentrated the Barr’s were, especially when the chips were down when having to withstand massive Rangers’ pressure in that third quarter. But the Rosscarbery men were the architects of their own downfall, simply not clinical enough when the chances came their way, the Hayes brothers, Seamus and John, having particular off-nights despite still being their side’s top scorers. Eight first-half wides and six more in the second-half proved far too costly for Rangers.
There was a lively opening to the game, Cathal McCarthy for the Barr’s and Seamus Hayes for Rangers missing good chances. However, Hayes did put his side ahead in the third minute, his brother John denied by an upright almost in the next attack.
But the Barr’s, too, were creating chances and, after Roy Leahy missed a free, they were in for the only goal of the game in the seventh minute when Jason Sexton picked out McCarthy with a peach of a long ball. The centre-forward, who had good match, then brushed past Brian Shanahan to shoot past Maurice Moloney from an acute angle
It proved an important score, for the Barr’s were never subsequently headed. There was plenty of bite to the rest of the opening quarter, though few scores, the Barr’s leading 1-1 to 0-2 after John Hayes and Sexton exchanged pointed frees. The contest began to open up now and, despite Micheál O’Sullivan and Kevin McMahon shading midfield possession against Eoin Keane and Aidan O’Shea, the Barr’s were holding their own in defence with Michael Shields now far more influential. And then Robert O’Mahony had a peach of a point in the 18th minute, following good work by Colin O’Sullivan, O’Shea and Colin Lyons.
But again Rangers showed their mettle and attacked the Barr’s defence menacingly. Fortunately for St.Finbarr’s, the Hayes brothers left their shooting boots at home and although fine points from John O’Rourke and John Hayes made it a one point match by the 21st minute, they were to pay dearly for all those wasted chances. Just before the break Sexton set up Roy Leahy for a point and the Barr’s led 1-3 to 0-4 at the short whistle.
McCarthy stretched the Barr’s lead just after the restart, but the next 10 minutes belonged to Rangers as they ran the Barr’s defence ragged. With McMahon and O’Sullivan imperious and wing back Johnny Murphy raiding hard down the left flank, points followed in turn from the Hayes brothers and McMahon. Suddenly the sides were level and, had Murphy not missed two glorious chances to put the Ross men in the ascendancy, it might well have been a different story.
Driven into action, the Barr’s steadied the ship again and, despite all the Rangers’ pressure, the Ross side found themselves trailing 1-5 to 0-7 entering the final quarter when Roy Leahy kicked his second point.
Carbery ran out of steam in the final quarter and the Barr’s didn’t take any prisoners. Playing with real composure now, they punished Rangers for their wastefulness with some steely defending and fruitful raids. With Ross O’Dwyer and Glenn O’Connor steady as rocks in defence, Shields cool and calculated, and the ageless Jim O’Donoghue and Keane full of running, the Barr’s took over.
Colin O’Sullivan fired over two huge points and, with the Carbery defence now under constant pressure, giving away a lot of fouls, four more converted Sexton frees made it safe for the Barr’s and a chance to atone for last year’s final defeat.
Scorers for St. Finbarr’s: J. Sexton 0-5 (frees), C. McCarthy 1-1, R. Leahy and C. O’Sullivan 0-2 each, R. O’Mahony 0-1.
Carbery Rangers: J. Hayes 0-4 (0-2 frees), S. Hayes 0-2, J. O’Rourke and K. McMahon 0-1 each.
ST FINBARR’S: K. McTiernan; P. Kennedy, R. O’Dwyer, G. O’Connor; C. Lyons , M. Shields, N. Horgan ; E. Keane A. O’Shea; C. O’Sullivan, C. McCarthy, J. O’Donoghue; J. Sexton, R. Leahy, R. O’Mahony.
Subs: I Leahy for R. Leahy (56m), F. Murray for O’Mahony (57), G. Leahy for McCarthy (60).
CARBERY RANGERS: M. Moloney; G. Ryan, M. Mennis, M. Kelly; S. Murray , B. Shanahan, J. Murphy; M. O’Sullivan, K. McMahon; D. Hayes, J. Fitzpatrick, J. O’Rourke; S. Hayes, J. McCarthy, J. Hayes.
Subs: A. Roche for Mennis (50), A. Jennings for McCarthy (51), P. Hodnett for Shanahan (56).
Referee: P. O’Leary (Kilmurry).
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