WEST Cork clubs had every reason to be pleased with their efforts following the latest round of Cork SFC ties but there is much work to be done if champions Nemo Rangers are to be dethroned.
Biggest takeaway from last weekend? There will be at least one Carbery representative in the last four of this year’s county senior football championship. Clonakilty and Carbery Rangers overcame Bishopstown and Ballincollig respectively at the conclusion of a disappointing double-header in Bandon last Sunday.
The ease with which both West Cork sides built healthy first-half leads was unexpected. Granted, Ballincollig came back into it during the second half of their 0-15 to 1-8 loss at the hands of their old rivals but the damage had already been done as 2016 champions, Rangers, built a nine-point interval lead.
John Hayes, Seamus Hayes, John O’Rourke, James Fitzpatrick and Kevin MacMahon’s long-range shooting was of the highest order and Carbery Rangers looked every inch of what you’d expect a title-challenger despite being forced on the back foot for periods of the second half.
Recent challenge games against Kerry senior clubs have certainly paid off and Micheál O’Sullivan’s side possess a renewed hunger to get their hands on the Andy Scannell Cup once again. Any team with Brian Shanahan and Robbie Kiely anchoring their defence has a chance to lift the famous trophy but Ross will have to overcome familiar opposition if another step towards that goal is to be achieved.
Standing in Carbery Rangers’ way of a place in the county semi-finals is the club they defeated in the opening round, Clonakilty. The Brewery Town won a second consecutive Cork SFC game under new manager Colm Aherne by blitzing Bishopstown for 1-2 inside the first five minutes of their round three clash.
There can be no getting away from the fact Bishopstown proved sub-standard opposition on the day, unable to rouse themselves even after Clon were reduced to 14 men when Sean Nagle received a straight red card. Yet, you can only beat what’s put in front of you and the boost Clonakilty received from overcoming Newcestown after extra-time in the losers round carried into last Sunday’s 7-point triumph.
Tom Clancy’s return from the USA proved timely but the loss of experienced campaigner Timmy Anglin to a hand injury coupled with Sean Nagle’s suspension will stretch Colm Aherne’s squad ahead of another local derby. A much-improved performance is needed to topple their Rosscarbery neighbours but Clonakilty demonstrated enough resolve in a close first round loss to suggest there will only be a point or two in it come the quarter-final.
Whatever about Clonakilty and Carbery Rangers’ welcome victories, the story of the third round, at least out West, was Castlehaven’s marvellous 0-21 to 0-21 draw with CIT.
It is doubtful Cloughduv has seen a more open, high-quality football championship encounter in which CIT squandered a 3-point injury-time lead. Damien Cahalane and Mark Collins converted three consecutive frees (one 45’) to earn a replay yet, for all the Haven’s attacking prowess, a huge improvement is required amongst their back division to prolong another championship odyssey.
Paul Holland’s college team exposed some of Castlehaven’s defensive frailties with Daniel Dineen (Cill an Martra) and Padraig Clifford (Fossa) running riot and combining for 15 points. The West Cork side were wasteful in front of goal but if those two issues can be rectified in Cloughduv tomorrow evening then the Carbery club is capable of progressing to a quarter-final meeting with Nemo Rangers.
It wasn’t all good news for West Cork football with O’Donovan Rossa bowing out of the senior championship at the hands of the aforementioned reigning champions. Four well-taken goals helped end Skibbereen’s interest in the competition but great strides have been made under Martin Bohane this year and Rossa’s have U21 talent coming through that should strengthen their line-up in 2019.
A young Dohenys team also deserve mention for retaining their senior status with a hard-earned victory over Kiskeam. It may have been the Dunmanway club’s first Cork SFC victory in two years but Fionn Herlihy, Jamie Carroll and Eoin Lavers deserve to be playing at senior club level for at least another year.