Hughie O’Donovan delivers for Valley Rovers at the death

Valley Rovers 2-6 Avondhu 0-11: Hughie O’Donovan’s goal in the fifth minute of injury time seized victory for Valley Rovers in the first round of the county SFC at Watergrasshill last night.

The Innishannon side led by 1-4 to 0-5 at half-time and pushed further clear thanks to a free by O’Donovan on the resumption, but they would be held scoreless for the remainder of normal time. Avondhu reeled them in point by point, and points from their Cork players Tomás Clancy and Colm O’Neill (two) between the 57th and 62nd minutes looked to have secured the win, putting them three points ahead.

When sub Billy Crowley was fouled, O’Donovan opted to put the free over, hopeful there would be time for another effort. After Avondhu’s Séamus Madigan shot wide, Valleys were afforded a final chance, working the ball slowly up the field until Fiachra Lynch was able to launch it towards the goal.

Avondhu goalkeeper Ciarán Cotter punched away under pressure, but no defender could claim possession and chaos reigned as the ball bounced around. O’Donovan swung his leg at it and the post helped it to the net, with the large Valleys contingent in the stand giving vocal expression to their joyous feelings. It was the last action and so Valleys now play neigbours Carrigaline in round 2A, with coach Barry Casey delighted at the refusal of his team to give up.

“I thought it was gone, to be fair,” he said. “We spoke about keeping going the whole way. We were conscious of what they had done to Ilen so it was just a matter of staying with them as best we could.”

The second-half finished just as the first had, with a Valley Rovers goal putting them in front. They had laboured for much of the opening half despite the wind at their backs, with the wides tally worryingly building. They trailed 0-5 to 0-4 when Eoghan Delaney shot for a point only for the ball to drop short and creep in at the far corner.

“We were very disappointed at half-time, we had kicked a lot of wides in the first-half and seemed a bit jittery,” Casey said. “To be fair, he was probably going for a point, he’d admit it himself, but we’ll take those ones!”

Before Delaney kicked their first point in the 12th minute, Valleys had had four stray shots as well as conceding three, with Ruairí O’Hagan, Shane Beston – playing his second game of the day, having togged out for Mitchelstown earlier – and David Pyne on target for Avondhu.

While two dead balls from Hughie O’Donovan brought Valleys level, Avondhu – so impressive in beating Ilen Rovers in the preliminary round last weekend – pushed on again. James Loughrey was excellent at centre-back in the first-half and he scored from a tight angle before another O’Hagan free. Wing-back Matty Taylor and the roving Mikie Sheehan were very prominent for the North Cork division while Pyne was denied a goal by a Donncha O’Driscoll save.

Dara Lordan had a Valleys response before Delaney’s goal and then Hughie O’Donovan’s free after the restart. Ten minutes in, though, Avondhu corner-back Pádraig Clancy – another to impress – could have levelled as he shot against the crossbar and then over with the rebound after Colm O’Connell found him in splendid isolation on a counter-attack.

At the other end, Clancy had to block Jack Walsh’s goal attempt but the momentum was with the divisional side now. Beston, following a good O’Neill catch, reduced the deficit to a point and then O’Hagan’s free put them ahead. The lead was extended, but Valleys, and O’Donovan had the final say.

Avondhu manager Martin Crummey had fewer quibbles with the outcome than the scheduling, with other Avondhu players having played with their clubs on Friday and Saturday.

“They kept driving on at us, you deserve to win if you can get a goal at the end, fair play to them,” he said. “For some guys, it was a third game in three days so the county board could maybe question themselves on the whole divisional side. Some lads had to play two games in one day and that’s a disgrace, a bit of tired legs maybe caught us but we won’t use it as an excuse, we had the game for the taking.

“We’ll regroup now for the O’Donovan Rossa game and have a go at that as well.”

Scorers for Valley Rovers:

H. O’Donovan 1-4 (3 frees, 1 45); E. Delaney 1-1; D. Lordan 0-1.

Scorers for Avondhu:

R. O’Hagan 0-3 (frees); S. Beston, C. O’Neill 0-2 each; J. Loughrey, P. Clancy, D. Pyne, T. Clancy 0-1 each.

VALLEY ROVERS:

D. O’Driscoll; D. Lordan, J. Lynch, Tomás O’Brien; N. O’Donovan, J. Lyons, D. Lynch; M. Power, K. Canty; H. O’Donovan, J. Cottrell, Tadhg O’Brien; E. Delaney, J. Walsh, F. Lynch.

Subs:

G. Farrell for Power, B. Crowley for Cottrell (both 51), E. O’Reilly for Delaney (60, injured).

AVONDHU:

C. Cotter (Glanworth); J. Daly (Fermoy), A. Cashman (Mallow), P. Clancy (Fermoy); T. Clancy (Fermoy), J. Lougrey (Mallow), M. Taylor (Mallow); R. Harkin (Mallow), E Stanton (Mallow), D Pyne (Glanworth), S. Beston (Mitchelstown), C. O’Connell (Killavullen); C. O’Neill (Ballyclough), R. O’Hagan (Fermoy), M. Sheehan (Glanworth).

Subs:

S. Shanahan (Fermoy) for Cashman (29, injured), S. Madigan (Buttevant) for Harkin (44).

Referee:

P. O’Leary (Kilmurry).



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