Carbery Rangers 2-17 Castlehaven 1-18 (after extra-time)
IT began with handbags at the Carbery Rangers end even before leading referee Conor Lane threw in the ball to start this county senior football championship round 2 tie in Skibbereen on Saturday evening.
A couple of hours later it finished in rapidly fading light after an epic contest which ebbed and flowed so much and with many wild swings that it left you almost cross-eyed.
After All-Ireland final referee, Lane, allowed the little dust-up to fizzle out, he consulted his umpires before showing yellow to inter-county rivals, Brian Hurley and Robbie Kiely.
Once that was out of the way, over 40 players combined to produce a thrilling contest of a very high quality with so many talking points that you’d need a mini-series to fully record the drama and excitement.
Where to start? At the coin toss, where Rosscarbery captain, Brian Shanahan, guessed right and decided to take first use of the howling wind.
A wise call? Five points inside 12 minutes suggests yes, but only for the Haven to outscore the 2016 champions 0-6 to 0-2 approaching the break. Advantage Haven.
The big names were already making major impressions, John Hayes at one end and Mark Collins and the Hurleys, Brian and Michael, at the other.
Moving Collins out to midfield early on worked for the Haven only for Ross to stun them with two goals inside 30 seconds in stoppage-time.
Goggles-wearing Rob Hegarty, whose two knees were also heavily strapped, shrugged off a couple of challenges to finish Kiely’s pass for a well-taken goal.
Haven keeper Paudie Hurley got into a pickle from a short kick-out allowing Hayes run the ball into an empty net for a shock 2-7 to 0-6 interval lead. Advantage Ross.
Damien Cahalane, who kicked a monster ’45 into the wind, switched to midfield on the resumption and his presence helped the Haven dominate.
Seven points in 10 minutes wiped out Ross’s lead, 2-7 to 0-13, as Cathal Maguire joined the other amigos in rattling over brilliant points. Advantage Haven again.
Back came Ross with Kiely ending a 13-minute drought with a fisted score followed moments later by Shanahan’s second to set-up a tense finale.
There was only a point in it, when the outrageously talented Hayes stretched the lead to three with a point off either foot in quick succession approaching the hour. Advantage Ross, now.
Then calamity for keeper Paul Shanahan in the first minute of injury-time as he over-indulged in possession, lost control of the ball, allowing Collins tee-up Ronan Walsh for a sensational equalising goal, 2-12 to 1-15. Extra-time.
Normally, the scoring rate drops in additional time and this was no exception, particularly as players from both sides were dropping with cramp and other muscle-related injuries at a regular rate.
The Haven had the decreasing wind at their backs in the first-half of extra-time but could muster a Collins free after 62 minutes as Hayes and John O’Rourke nudged Ross 2-14 to 1-16 ahead.
O’Rourke added another after just 10 seconds of the start of the second period of additional time only for Brian Hurley and another Collins free to make it 2-15 to 1-18 with three minutes’ regulation time left.
In the first minute of almost four added on, Hayes made it a one-point game as the Haven lost Jamie Walsh to a red card before Shanahan clinched a memorable Ross victory and bragging rights over their close neighbours. What a game!
Scorers for Carbery Rangers: J Hayes 1-9 (0-5 f), R Hegarty 1-0, J O’Rourke and B Shanahan 0-3 each, R Kiely and A Jennings 0-1 each.
Castlehaven: M Collins 0-8 (0-6 f), B Hurley 0-4, R Walsh 1-0, M Hurley 0-3, C Maguire 0-2, D Cahalane 0-1 45.
CARBERY RANGERS: P Shanahan; James O’Riordan, T O’Rourke, R Hegarty; P Hodnett, R Kiely, Jerry O’Riordan; J Fitzpatrick, B Hodnett; A Jennings, P Hurley, J Hayes; J O’Rourke, B Shanahan, Darragh Hayes.
Subs: S Hayes for B Hodnett half-time, C Hennessy for Hurley 41, S Murray for Kiely injured 52, Declan Hayes for Darragh Hayes 79.
CASTLEHAVEN: P Hurley; J O’Regan, D McCarthy, R Walsh; C Hayes, Damien Cahalane, J Walsh; S Dineen, Darragh Cahalane; R Whelton, M Hurley, S Collins; C Maguire, M Collins, captain, B Hurley.
Subs: C Nolan for Dineen 11, S O’Driscoll for Whelton 38, A Whelton for Darragh Cahalane 52, D O’Mahony for McCarthy, black card, 60, R Maguire for C Maguire injured 66, D Whelton for S Collins injured 68, S Hurley for O’Driscoll and C Maguire for Hayes 70.
Referee: C Lane (Banteer).