FOR the first time since 2003, Castlehaven will contest a Cork SFC final, bridging that eight year gap in dazzling fashion at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night.
The pre-match expectations may have been of a fiercely contested West Cork derby, but those notions were shredded by the dominance Castlehaven exerted from an early stage.
Two years ago, Castlehaven had only three points to spare when they faced Carbery Rangers in the fourth round, but their highly disciplined defending and ruthlessness up front ensured the gap was 13 points this time. As a statement of intent, this was powerful stuff. Over the last few seasons, Castlehaven have suffered some agonising championship defeats but there is evidence this year that their team, largely framed around the county U21 winning outfits of 2007 and 2010, have absorbed those valuable lessons and matured significantly.
This was a win to cherish yet manager James McCarthy has shifted his focus quickly after the final whistle.
“When you’re in charge of a team in Castlehaven, it’s county finals you’re judged on. If we don’t win the next day, tonight means nothing. I’m delighted for the parish, they’ll come alive now in the next three weeks. This is what we’re born for in Castlehaven, going to county finals. But we’ve nothing done yet and we’re up against a very strong UCC team. We’ve three weeks to do our homework, we’ll be back training tomorrow morning doing a recovery session and we’ll take it from there then.”
McCarthy’s men led 1-5 to 0-0 at the end of the first quarter and trends of those early exchanges defined the outcome. Liam Collins was stationed on Seamus Hayes from the off, while David Limrick followed John Hayes and the identification of Carbery Rangers attacking threats was successful as Castlehaven’s best defenders fulfilled their role.
Castlehaven were sharp to the breaks in the middle third, clogged their defence with bodies when Carbery Rangers were in possession and then swiftly attacked when the opportunity arose. Damien Cahalane supplied the attack with brilliant foot passes, Seanie Cahalane created gaps with his tireless running and that allowed Mark Collins and Brian Hurley to illustrate their scoring prowess.
“We came out of the traps well,” admitted McCarthy. “We’d a lot of homework done on Ross after watching them all year and our match-ups worked a treat. We kept them to five points, seven was our target, so we’re dead happy. We said these fellas would hurt us if we gave them space. In fairness our half-forwards dropped deep and our tackling was very impressive. Mark and Brian were outstanding and they’re great prospects for Cork football. But our defence was brilliant tonight, I’d look at them more than forwards.”
Collins was on fire from play and frees early on as he shot four points in the first quarter, and then Hurley broke the game open when he tucked away a 14th minute penalty after Roland Whelton was fouled. Carbery Rangers were shocked by the power of that early onslaught but managed to gain control before the interval, principally through the efforts of Kevin McMahon and James Fitzpatrick. But that territorial dominance was not reflected on the scoreboard with John Hayes off target from a couple of frees and 31 minutes had elapsed before Brian Shanahan got off the mark.
Trailing 1-6 to 0-1 at the interval, Carbery Rangers required a quick spree of scores in the second-half to ignite their revival. John Hayes did bang over a brilliant point from play and also a couple of dead ball efforts, while wing-back Stephen Murray stole forward for another fine point. However the gap was too great to bridge and the discipline of Castlehaven’s defending meant Carbery Rangers never threatened Paudie Hurley’s goal. Castlehaven’s standards dipped for a period but they accelerated clear in the finish and scrubbed away any lingering hopes that Carbery Rangers had of powering back.
Brian Hurley curled over a neat point with his left foot in the 52nd minute to push them into a 1-9 to 0-5 lead and a minute later, Mark Collins punted a ball forward that evaded the Carbery Rangers rearguard allowing Seanie Cahalane to slip through and finish decisively to the net. That copper-fastened Castlehaven’s triumph with Bernie Collins, Brian Hurley and Mark Collins clipping over further points to seal their spot in the October 16 decider.
Scorers for Castlehaven: B Hurley 1-4 (1-0 pen), M Collins 0-6 (0-4f), S Cahalane 1-0, B Collins 0-2.
Scorers for Carbery Rangers: J Hayes 0-3 (0-1 ‘45, 0-1f), B Shanahan, S Murray 0-1 each.
CASTLEHAVEN: P Hurley; D Cahalane, L Collins, T O’Leary; M Cahalane, D Limrick, C Hayes; D Hurley, S Dineen; A Cahalane, M Collins, R Whelton; B Collins, S Cahalane, B Hurley. Subs: S Hurley for A Cahalane (43), D Burns for Whelton (48), D Hegarty for B Collins (58), I Cahalane for Dineen (60), J Davis for Hayes (60).
CARBERY RANGERS: M Moloney; M Kelly, K McMahon, Sean Hayes; S Murray, M Mennis, J Murphy; M O’Sullivan, J Fitzpatrick; A Jennings, J Hayes, J O’Rourke; D Hayes, Seamus Hayes, B Shanahan.
Subs: P Hodnett for O’Sullivan (half-time), M O’Donovan for Kelly (38), E Favier for Sean Hayes (42), J McCarthy for Murphy (45).
Referee: Conor Lane (Banteer).
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