Barrs footballers can take the positives after clean sweep in the group stages

Barrs footballers can take the positives after clean sweep in the group stages

Ian Maguire, St Finbarr’s, getting past Dan Peet, Clonakilty during their Bon Secours premier S.F.C. match at Coachford. Picture: Dan Linehan 

ST FINBARR’S welcome the break next weekend after completing a hectic schedule in football and hurling.

The footballers, champions in 2018, await a quarter-final against Newcestown in the Bon Secours Premier Senior Championship after topping Group 1 with a maximum return from three games.

They were missing a number of dual players through injury, the likes of Colm Barrett, Glenn O’Connor and Cian Walsh, in their 1-17 to 1-13 win over Clonakilty in Coachford last Sunday.

The city club were joined in the knock-out phase by runners-up Ballincollig, who followed up their win over Clon by defeating Carrigaline.

“I suppose our best performance was against Carrigaline, judging by the scoreboard at any rate,” said manager Paul O’Keeffe.

“We had positives in all the games and I believe we’re improving all the time, but the key thing for us now is the break because we have injuries and niggles.

“This was our sixth week out of seven, including the hurlers, being involved and it’s a big ask for players, no doubt about that.”

 Paul O'Keeffe manager of St Finbarr's. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Paul O'Keeffe manager of St Finbarr's. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Captain Ian Maguire also felt the effects of a hard-hitting contest during which he covered his usual high amount of ground.

“Ian told me after the game that he landed awkwardly on his hip during the game on top of taking other knocks on the hard ground.”

The Barrs made it difficult for themselves by missing a number of goal-scoring chances in a wind-assisted first-half, in addition to missing a penalty.

“We created four goal-scoring and just needed to be a bit more clinical, yet we played some excellent football to get into those positions.

“In one sense it gives us something to work with and as a manager you’re always with happy with that.”

Clon played their best football against the wind in the first half, edging 0-7 to 0-5 clear approaching the break before the Barrs compiled an important 1-2 without response.

Young Brian Hayes, one of their dual players, showed his importance to the team by setting up Steven Sherlock for the goal, part of his 1-7 contribution.

“I was more than concerned because that could come back to haunt you.

“And when you see a penalty coming back off the crossbar you’re thinking is it going to be one of those days?

“It all worked out for us in the end. The main thing was getting a grip on the scoreboard and once we went 1-15 to 0-9 up we felt we were home and hosed.”

That 15-minute burst yielded 0-6 for the Barrs, who still had to defend frantically as Clon threw the kitchen sink at them.

“We were going nicely until Clon came at us again which is something they’re renowned for.

“I don’t know whether our fellows tired or believed the game was in the bag.

“These things can creep in and we allowed Clon back in to get the last four scores, which is something disappointing, as well.

“Clon are always a dangerous animal and you just never know with them, as I found out to my cost over the years.

“That’s what you expect from Clon. They just never give up. They’ve good spirit and always give the Barrs a game.”

Three teams finished with 100% records in the groups, champions Nemo Rangers in Group 3 and Castlehaven in Group 2.

Before the start of the final round of group games, Nemo had possession of the lone semi-final spot on offer, courtesy of the best scoring difference, +22 compared to the Barrs on +19 and the Haven on +11.

That position started to alter as news filtered through from the Haven’s game with Ilen and they began to make up the ground on their city rivals.

And while social media, surprisingly, or not, went to sleep for a period, the Haven’s 21-point success was more than enough to overtake the other pair.

The Barrs conceded 1-4 in the closing stages which ruled out any prospect of catching the west Cork’s final scoring difference of +32 compared to their own +23, four less than Nemo’s tally.

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