For the second successive year O’Donovan Rossa surmounted a West Cork challenge in the opening round of the SFC when they defeated Dohenys in Clonakilty on Saturday night.
Last season it took extra-time in Rosscarbery before they advanced past Clonakilty but only needed an hour to stave off the challenge of their Dunmanway based opponents.
Six points was a healthy advantage for O’Donovan Rossa at the final whistle. Yet the priority in the second-half, playing into the teeth of a hefty wind, was to protect their position.
Approaching half-time O’Donovan Rossa were 3-7 to 0-2 clear yet Dohenys responded with gusto. They notched 1-2 in first half injury-time and four consecutive points at the start of the second half to whittle the Skibbereen club’s advantage down to five.
“We’ve work to do yet but we’ll enjoy this,” reflected O’Donovan Rossa manager Bobbie O’Dwyer.
“They work hard, the defensive side of our game was largely good and we had some nice movement in the forwards. There was a very strong wind against us in the second half and Dohenys are a very good team who don’t give you time to settle on the ball. We tried to slow it down and retain possession towards the end.”
O’Donovan Rossa were in splendid form in the first half. Daniel Hazel and Thomas Hegarty mopped up the breaks, Conor McCarthy and Donal Óg Hodnett switched to good effect in the attacking spine while Colin Crowley raised their first green flag in the 10th minute.
O’Donovan Rossa continued to pour forward and after registering a series of points, Hodnett was fouled in the goalmouth, McCarthy struck the penalty to the net in the 29th minute.
Dohenys were struggling but managed to gain an important foothold in the game. Denis Healy palmed the ball to the net in first-half injury-time Stephen Collins’ accuracy in converting point-scoring opportunities reduced the margin to 3-7 to 1-8 by the 38th minute. Alan Sheehan, substitute Michael Milner and midfielder Pat Collins drove them on manfully yet they could not chip away at the deficit any further.
McCarthy and Hodnett claimed more possession for O’Donovan Rossa by withdrawing outfield while Alan Tanner and Paddy Nealon were to the fore in defence.
The failure to raise another green flag took the sting out of Dohenys fightback as they must prepare for a second round meeting with Ilen Rovers, a repeat of their clash at that stage last year.
O’Donovan Rossa were also assisted by minor player Kevin Davis who made a fine impact after being sprung from the bench in the first half. He contributed two points in an excellent performance but the background to his introduction soured his side’s victory as corner-forward Rob McCarthy was taken off nursing a knee injury.
“We don’t know yet what the story is yet with Robbie,” admitted O’Dwyer. “He hurt his knee and he’ll go for a scan now but hopefully he’s okay. Kevin Davis came in and obviously his bloodlines are good. He’s a super footballer and was always going to feature at some stage. The U21 success last year stood to our younger players when the pressure came on here. They’re a lovely young team and are very comfortable on the ball.”
Scorers for O’Donovan Rossa: D Óg Hodnett 1-3, C McCarthy 1-2 (1-0 pen, 1f), C Crowley 1-1, K Davis 0-2, S Carmody, P Gilmore (0-1f), R McCarthy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dohenys: D Healy 1-0, S Collins 0-3, M Quinn (2fs), A Sheehan (1 45) 0-2 each, D O’Sullivan, P Collins, M Milner, N Collins 0-1 each.
O’DONOVAN ROSSA: R Price; E Nealon, A Tanner, S Crowley Snr; P Crowley, P Nealon, D Hazel; P Gilmore, S Carmody; E Hodnett, D Óg Hodnett, T Hegarty; R McCarthy, C McCarthy, C Crowley.
Subs: K Davis for R McCarthy (inj) (19), S O’Brien for P Nealon (inj) (58).
DOHENYS: D Farr; T O’Leary, T Collins, D Rice; T O’Donovan, D Collins, N Collins; D O’Sullivan, P Collins; A Sheehan, S Collins, J McCarthy; D Healy, D O’Donovan, M Quinn.
Subs: M Milner for T O’Donovan (ht), K Crowley for O’Leary (ht), M Farr for O’Sullivan (49), J O’Connell for D O’Donovan (54).
Referee: Pat O’Leary (Kilmurry).
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