Stirring Courcey Rovers fightback secures PIHC final victory

Eight-point deficit is wiped out as Castlelyons suffered second straight final defeat
Stirring Courcey Rovers fightback secures PIHC final victory

Joy for Courcey Rovers, despair for Castlelyons. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Courcey Rovers 1-19 Castlelyons 1-18

A final-quarter turnaround gave Courcey Rovers victory in Saturday night’s Co-op SuperStores Cork Premier IHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Having trailed by 1-11 to 0-8 at half-time, the Ballinspittle/Ballinadee side fell eight behind early in the second half, but they had managed to halve that deficit by two points by the time of the second water break. While Eoin Maye landed his third point for Castlelyons to put them five points ahead again after the resumption, the next eight minutes saw Courceys landed an unanswered 1-5 to put them in control.

Courcey Rovers' Colm Daly shoots from Castleyons' Niall O'Leary. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Courcey Rovers' Colm Daly shoots from Castleyons' Niall O'Leary. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The goal came in the 47th minute, with sub Olan Crowley marking his arrival in style following Seán Twomey’s driving run. That strike was followed by five consecutive Richard Sweetnam points, four from dead balls, and they were three ahead with five minutes left.

By this stage, Castlelyons had logged 11 scoreless minutes but Alan Fenton ended that run with his seventh point and, after a wide at the other end, sub Michael Spillane cut the lead to just a point. Unfortunately for Castlelyons, beaten in the 2020 final by Blarney, the equaliser remained elusive and Courceys prevailed to secure promotion to senior A for next year.

They had started well, scoring the first three points in the opening six minutes, with a pair of Richard Sweetnam points sandwiching a fine Jerry O’Neill effort.

Castlelyons belatedly got off the mark as Eoin Maye’s diagonal pass found David Morrison, who slotted over, and Ronan Fenton set up brother Alan for a point before he levelled on 10 minutes. A long-range free from Alan Fenton had Castlelyons ahead by the water break and they didn’t trail for the remainder of the half.

Courcey Rovers' Seán Twomey is tackled by Castlelyons' Jamie O'Leary and Leo Sexton. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Courcey Rovers' Seán Twomey is tackled by Castlelyons' Jamie O'Leary and Leo Sexton. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

While Seán Twomey’s nice point had Courceys level and, after Leon Doocey put Castlelyons 0-5 to 0-4 in front, O’Neill tied matters once more on 22, but the next play was to prove decisive. Castlelyons goalkeeper Jack Barry’s puckout wasn’t claimed by any defensive hand and, when the ball bounced through into the large rectangle, Niall O’Leary was able to run on to it and pull a shot to the net.

O’Leary had started at full-forward with fellow Cork panellist Colm Spillane at centre-forward but the attacking sextet rotated throughout. Straight after the goal, O’Leary fed captain Anthony Spillane for the first of his three first-half points and, with Maye and Alan Fenton having supremacy at midfield, they began to pull away.

Castlelyons' Tom Carroll breaks past Courcey Rovers' Tadhg O'Sullivan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Castlelyons' Tom Carroll breaks past Courcey Rovers' Tadhg O'Sullivan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It was 1-11 to 0-8 at half-time, Alan Fenton with four points, and his fifth on the restart was followed by a second from May to make it 1-13 to 0-8. Courceys, with centre-back Fergus Lordan imperious and Twomey growing in influence, began to gain a foothold, though.

Twomey, Sweetnam (two frees) and the ever-reliable O’Neill had points to bring them back to within four and they were still in touch at the water break, 1-15 to 0-14 behind. From that platform, they reeled Castlelyons in across the closing stages.

Courcey Rovers players celebrate after defeating Castlelyons in the Co-Op Superstores Premier IHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Courcey Rovers players celebrate after defeating Castlelyons in the Co-Op Superstores Premier IHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Scorers for Courcey Rovers: R Sweetnam 0-11 (0-9 f), J O’Neill 0-5, O Crowley 1-0, S Twomey 0-2, R Nyhan 0-1.

Castlelyons: A Fenton 0-7 (0-4 f), A Spillane, E Maye 0-3 each, N O’Leary 1-0, R Fenton, L Doocey, D Morrison, C Spillane, M Spillane 0-1 each.

COURCEY ROVERS: S Nyhan; B Mulcahy, B Collins, C Daly; D Coughlan, F Lordan, S McCarthy; DJ Twomey, M Collins; J O’Neill, T O’Sullivan, R Sweetnam; L Collins, S Twomey, R Nyhan. 

Subs: Aidan O’Donovan for DJ Twomey (half-time), C Roche for Coughlan (38), O Crowley for R Nyhan, K Collins for Daly (both 47), J McCarthy for O’Neill (60).

CASTLELYONS: J Barry; J O’Leary, C Barry, T Carroll; L Doocey, L Sexton, S Moroney; E Maye, A Fenton; K O’Leary, C Spillane, R Fenton; D Morrison, N O’Leary, A Spillane.

Subs: B Murphy for R Fenton (40), M Spillane for K O’Leary (49), J Kearney for Morrison (60).

Referee: D Daly (Brian Dillons).

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