SAFC: Bandon face relegation playoff as Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh move on

Second-half comeback wasn't enough for the West Cork side, who now need to beat Newmarket
SAFC: Bandon face relegation playoff as Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh move on

Liam Seartan, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh, weighing up his options as Bandon’s Eolann McSweeney and Conor Calnan close in during the Bon Secours SAFC game at Ballinacarriga. Picture: Martin Walsh.

Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh 1-13 Bandon 1-12 
BÉAL Átha’n Ghaorthaidh qualified for the Bon Secours Senior A Football Championship quarter-finals but only after a mighty scare from Bandon at Ballinacarriga.

The Ballingeary club were ahead by five points at two different junctures of an engaging battle that wasn’t decided until Ben Searten’s injury-time winning free.

Although through to the last eight, by their own admission, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh have a lot of work to if they wish to progress any further in this year’s championship.

A relegation play-off against Newmarket beckons for a Bandon team that showed plenty of grit but will need all available players to avoid the prospect of dropping down a grade Béal Átha’n entered their final Group B fixture level on points with co-leaders Dohenys. A Ballingeary victory would secure a place in the knockout stages. A winless Bandon required a draw or victory to avoid the possibility of contesting a relegation play-off.

The Ballingeary club got off to a positive start with Ben Seartan and Aindrisas Ó Coinceannáin (free) efforts sandwiching a Mark Sugrue free for Bandon.

Conchubar Ó Loinsigh played a vital role in his side’s counter-attacks throughout a dominant first half and made 0-3 to 0-1 from a 45’ shortly after.

Pat Prendergast came to the Lilywhites’ rescue with a point-blank stop to deny Donagh Seartan a certain goal after 8 minutes. Ballingeary continued to press forward, however, Dara Ó Ceallacháin and Ben Seartan making it 0-5 to 0-2 after Sugrue landed his second free.

Bandon's Jonathan Mulcahy moves clear of Seamas O’Tuama. Picture: Martin Walsh.
Bandon's Jonathan Mulcahy moves clear of Seamas O’Tuama. Picture: Martin Walsh.

The same Bandon forward reduced the deficit but that was Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh’s cue to increase the tempo and build an impressive first half lead.

Diarmuid Mac Tomáis, Conchubar Ó Loinsigh (two), Ben Seartan (two) and Dara Ó Ceallacháin points pushed their side 0-11 to 0-3 ahead late in the opening half. Despite limited opportunities, Mark Sugrue (free) and Darren Crowley managed to score and make it a six-point game at the interval.

A scrappy start to the second half saw both sides waste chances until an opportunistic Mark Sugrue goal reduced the deficit to three. Buoyed by that effort, Sugrue (free) and Jonathan Mulcahy landed additional points before Seamus Ó Tuama made it 0-12 to 1-7.

Having been in defensive mode since the resumption, Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh broke at speed and worked the ball to Donagh Searten for a superb goal after 44 minutes.

Amazingly, the eventual winners would not score again until injury time. In between, Bandon demonstrated admirable resolve and fought their way back into contention during a dominant spell.

Jonathan Mulcahy, James Walsh, Michael Cahalane and Mark Sugrue scored four points in a row to leave the bare minimum between the teams with less than three minutes remaining. The west Cork club’s supporters were at their loudest when Aidan O’Mahony levelled matters shortly before the end.

The outcome of a titanic battle remained in the balance but Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh, after emptying their substitutes bench, won a free close to the Bandon goal. Ben Searten made no mistake and won it by the slimmest of margins for a relieved Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh.

Newmarket and a relegation play-off beckons for a Bandon team that showed enough determination to suggest they could pull off what would be an upset. It has already been a long year for Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh but there is plenty of life left in a panel capable of pushing on.

Scorers for Béal Átha’n Ghaorthaidh: B Seartan 0-5 (0-1 f), C Ó Loinsigh 0-3 (0-1 45), D Seartan 1-0, D MacTomáis 0-2, A Ó Coinceannáin (0-1 f), D Ó Ceallacháin, S Ó Tuama 0-1 each.

Bandon: M Sugrue 1-6 (0-4 f), J Mulcahy 0-2, D Crowley, J Walsh, M Cahalane, A O’Mahony 0-1 each.

BÉAL ÁTHA’N GHAORTHAIDH: D Ó Coill; J Ó Donnchú, E Ó Duinnín, C Ó Nuanáin; C Ó Duinnín (captain), M Ó Riordáin, L Ó Criordáin; A Ó Coinceannáin, C Ó Loinsigh; N Ó Laoire, D Seartan, L Seartan; D MacTomáis, B Seartan, D Ó Ceallacháin.

Subs: L Ó Conchuir for D Ó Ceallacháin (40), S Ó Tuama for N Ó Laoire (40), A Loinsigh for L Ó Criordáin (52), E Ó Coill for D MacTomáis (52), S Ó Luasa for M Ó Riordáin (60).

BANDON: P Prendergast; C Burke, B Crowley (captain), E McSweeney; C Long, J Walsh, C O’Mahony; P Murphy, J Mulcahy; D Crowley, M Cahalane, C Calnan; A O’Mahony, B Collins, M Sugrue.

Sub: H Lillis for C Burke (42).

Referee: John Enright (Glengarriff).

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