WHILE Castlehaven were beaten in last Sunday week’s 2020 Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC final by Nemo Rangers, manager James McCarthy felt that the experience helped the team past Newcestown in their 2021 opener at the weekend.
The Haven prevailed by 2-12 to 1-10 against their West Cork neighbours in Clonakilty on Saturday, with McCarthy paying tribute to the spirit within the squad despite the Nemo defeat.
“I knew we’d get everything we could out of the boys,” he said.
“At stages there, we were dead on our feet but that’s Newcestown, they’re a good team. They’ll beat the best teams there, I promise you that – whoever’s playing them next, you’ll always have a great battle. We went up eight or nine points there and most teams would die but Newcestown came back.
“If you’re asking for an answer as to where our performance came from, I think it came from the minute the final whistle blew above in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
“We were gutted but we parked it and we had a great night Sunday night. We had a better day Monday and we didn’t get that chance with years to do that. We’ve been together all week, on and off the field, and when Tuesday night came, we had 40 at training. We just spoke about it there, that’s where that performance came from.
“If we had started pointing fingers after the county final, you wouldn’t know where we’d have ended up today.”
Having that match under their belts was also a help from a sharpness point of view.
“It definitely is,” McCarthy said.
“With a bit more composure, I’d be unhappy with our finishing and we could have got a few more close-in frees to stretch the game out a bit, but we weren’t in much danger of conceding a goal in the second half.”
For his part, Newcestown manager Tom Wilson accepted that the Haven’s strong start – they led by 2-5 to 0-2 after 23 minutes, was key to the outcome.
“It all came down to the start,” he said.
“We lost a man to a black card and they scored 1-4 to a point. He came back on and we gave away a stupid second goal – there’s the game.
“It wasn’t anything that they did extra-brilliantly – we matched them every bit for the rest of the game.
“When you’re behind against a quality team, it’s very difficult. We came to three points but we couldn’t sustain it.”
Newcestown’s focus now turns to hurling, with an SAHC clash against Fr O’Neills next weekend. The footballers’ next clash is against Carbery Rangers in nearly three weeks, but Wilson remains upbeat.
“The whole point is that there’s no championship over yet,” he said.
“The difficult thing is that you’re going to turn around to hurling now for two weeks and, before the Carbery Rangers game, we’re going to see them for one, maybe two, nights.
“All we can do now is plough on and hope for the best in those two games.”