AN ENTHRALLING game at Brinny last night as Ballygarvan booked a Cork County IHC semi-final berth after a gutsy performance against pre-tournament favourites Bandon.
Two goals in the opening 12 minutes by full-forward Tadhg Quilligan set them up for victory. Arguably though, the third from substitute Emmet Ahearne with his first touch on 45 minutes settled the outcome.
Up until that point it had been the West Cork side doing the chasing — a product of their desperately sluggish start but also the whirlwind opening 15 minutes by the South-East side.
Trailing 2-6 to 0-1 after only 12 minutes, Bandon looked to be heading for defeat. They were simply steamrolled by a powerful unit and had no answer during the opening exchanges.
Carbon copy goals from Quilligan in the second and 11th minutes after he fetched Joe Spillane deliveries high over the head of Darren Ryan before dispatching to the net forced Bandon on the defensive, and only for smart defending by captain Donough Lucey the deficit could have been greater.
But Bandon have been down this road before and battled back into contention. The catalyst for recovery came courtesy of veteran corner-forward Darren O’Donoghue who crashed home a goal on 13 minutes after racing onto Stephen Murphy’s puck out.
The White brothers, Gary and Stephen, were on fire for Ballygarvan with the latter hammering over two massive scores from the right wing. But they conceded a second goal when Darren Crowley scampered away from his marker before slipping the ball to Jason McCarthy and he made no mistake from six yards out.
Frenetic is one word to describe the closing minutes of the half as Bandon now enjoyed their best spell, with Darren Crowley chalking up three points in a row to narrow the gap to just four at the break.
Roy Payne was introduced by Bandon to help curtail the threat of a rampant Gary White and he succeeded too, nicking an early point before the evergreen O’Donoghue trimmed the margin to just one with a first time pull to the net on 38 minutes.
They eventually drew level on the three-quarter mark through Jason McCarthy and with momentum building, the twice beaten finalists of the last few years were expected to push on.
But Ballygarvan introduced a sub of their own — Ahearne — and with his first touch he batted to the net after a mix up in the Bandon defence.
Crowley and Quilligan swapped points late in the game. Bandon missed a couple of chances but with Stephen White and Ger Spillane imperious in defence they stretched the margin out to four courtesy of a breakaway score by Ahearne which sealed the match.
They play Barryroe in the last four.
Scorers for Ballygarvan: M Kennefick 0-8 (0-5f, 0-1 65), T Quilligan 2-2, E Ahearne 1-1, S White 0-2, K Ashman 0-1. Bandon: D O’Donoghue 2-0, D Crowley 0-5 (0-3f), J McCarthy 1-1, J Harrington, R Payne (0-2) each, G O’Riordan 0-1.
BALLYGARVAN: L Dillon; W O’Halloran, C O’Sullivan, J Spillane; G Spillane, D O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan; G White, M O’Riordan; K Ashman, J Spillane, S White; T O’Halloran, T Quilligan, M Kennefick. Subs: W McCarthy for J Spillane (44), E Ahearne for T O’Halloran (45).
BANDON: S Murphy; J Burke, R Ryan, P Crowley; G O’Riordan, D Lucey, E O’Donovan; J O’Donovan, J Harrington; D Crowley, T O’Donoghue, J Hickey; D O’Donoghue, J McCarthy, R Crowley. Subs: R Payne for J O’Donovan (22), M Sugrue for T O’Donoghue (46), N O’Rourke for J Hickey (50).
Referee: J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).
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