Carbery Rangers issued a significant statement of intent at the opening hurdle of the Cork SFC in Dunmanway last night when they swept past Clonakilty.
The Rosscarbery side may have seen their 2011 campaign ended by local rivals Castlehaven at the semi-final juncture, but made no mistake in another West Cork derby this year. Memories of the 16-point hiding against Clonakilty during their first senior football season six years ago rescinded last night as Carbery Rangers conjured up a dominant display.
They fielded a starting 15 that varied in terms of personnel and positioning from that which fell short last September. Those alterations worked well for the side, particularly in the redeployment of players to different sectors of the pitch. The most striking change saw John O’Rourke, a wing-forward on the recent Munster U21FC winning Cork side, relocated to centre-back and he was excellent in anchoring his team’s challenge.
The fact Carbery Rangers only conceded four points during the encounter, and none at all in the second-half, was a testament to the quality of Michael Kelly, Sean Hayes and Stephen Murray’s defending.
At midfield James Fitzpatrick was the dominant performer as he regularly orchestrated the flow of play and weighed in with three points to his name as well. John Hayes’ free-taking was outstanding and his trickery also saw him evade the Clonakilty defence to pick off two points from play.
And Carbery Rangers had strength in reserve as well that they could utilise to kill the game off. Thomas O’Rourke, younger brother of John and current Cork minor full-back, was sprung from the bench to confidently kick a brace of points.
2009 county champions Clonakilty were left disappointed by the eventual outcome and must now brace themselves for a backdoor meeting with St Nicholas or Newcestown.
They were highly competitive in the opening quarter and, assisted by the breeze, were 0-3 to 0-2 ahead after 12 minutes with Colin O’Donovan converting dead ball situations. Yet Carbery Rangers took over with the intensity and work rate of their play all over the pitch leading to a spell of dominance. They strung together five points on the trot – Shanahan, Hayes (three) and Fitzpatrick – to move into a commanding 0-7 to 0-3 lead.
Clonakilty mounted a revival with Thomas Clancy and Denis Murphy tightening up matters at the back, and Liam Lyons and Padraig Griffin raiding successfully for points.
By the break Carbery Rangers scoring advantage was still satisfactory at 0-8 to 0-5. But Clonakilty wiped it out seven minutes into the second-half when a footblock stopped Griffin’s shot and a penalty was awarded. Conor McManus, who began this year as part of Jimmy McGuinness’s Donegal squad for the Dr McKenna Cup and had been playing club football with Kilcar, marked his return to Clonakilty by firing into the bottom corner.
However, Rangers’ response was telling and a measure of their approach to this game.
They worked the ball downfield from the kickout and Micheal O’Sullivan pumped a long ball into the attack. John Hayes seized possession before unleashing a shot that was well-blocked by Patrick O’Regan but the rebound fell kindly for the inrushing Seamus Hayes to shoot to the net. From there they took control with Fitzpatrick, Hayes (two) and McMahon stretching their lead to 1-12 to 1-5 entering the final quarter. Clonakilty opted to shake things up late on by introducing young attackers like Jonathan Leahy and Barry O’Mahony into their forward line.
But Carbery Rangers defence held firm and Clonakilty could only muster two points courtesy of frees from McManus and David O’Regan. Those scores were cancelled out by efforts by Thomas O’Rourke as Rangers advanced to the fourth round.
Scorers for Carbery Rangers: J Hayes 0-7 (5fs), S Hayes 1-0, J Fitzpatrick 0-3 (2fs), T O’Rourke 0-2, B Shanahan, K McMahon 0-1 each.
Scorers for Clonakilty: C McManus 1-1 (1-0 pen, 1f), C O’Donovan 0-2 (0-1 45), M O’Brien, L Lyons, P Griffin, D O’Regan (1f) 0-1 each.
CARBERY RANGERS: M Moloney; M Kelly, Sean Hayes, E Favier; S Murray, J O’Rourke, G O’Brien; M O’Sullivan, J Fitzpatrick; P Hodnett, B Shanahan, K McMahon; D Hayes, Seamus Hayes, J Hayes. Subs: M O’Donovan for Favier (ht), T O’Rourke for O’Brien (46), S O’Neill for Hodnett (53).
CLONAKILTY: P O’Regan; L Lyons, D O’Brien, C O’Neill; D Murphy, T Clancy, N Hayes; S Nagle, C McManus; D Lyons, M O’Brien, C O’Donovan; G Barry, P Griffin, Timmy Anglin.
Subs: Tony Anglin for D O’Brien (22), D O’Regan for O’Donovan (half-time), H Kenny for M O’Brien (42), J Leahy for Barry (47), B O’Mahony for Timmy Anglin (53).
Referee: Conor Lane (Banteer).
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