Ilen Rovers 0-14 Newmarket 0-13
ILEN Rovers avoided the dreaded relegation battle with a sensational win over Newmarket in a pulsating Bon Secours Senior A Football Championship clash at Cloughduv on Saturday.
Not the greatest spectacle of football witnessed at this venue over many decades but both teams deserve credit in the manner they battled to the final whistle.
The final outcome of the group saw Clyda Rovers top the group with O’Donovan Rossa taking runner-up spot.
For Ilen Rovers their status was maintained but Newmarket will have to do battle again against Bandon to preserve their status in this championship.
It was evident from the throw-in that this game was always going to be a cagey affair with points from Conor O’Keeffe and Aidan Browne edging Newmarket ahead.
Newmarket had good possession but their over-reliance on Conor O’Keeffe to kick their scores was evident with few players running into space when he got into good positions.
Suddenly the west Cork side responded to the wake-up call and three unanswered points had their vocal supporters in rapture.
The game was spoiled at times with some silly and borderline fouls getting punished that slowed the tempo right down.
Barry O’Connor came to life with a brace of points in the 22nd minute that gave Newmarket a two-point lead.
Indeed in one of the rare goal opportunities, Newmarket should have punished their opponents late in the half.
One moment of lapse defending almost caught Ilen Rovers napping but David Cottrell couldn’t punish them when he got sight of goal.
Leading 0-7 to 0-5 at the break Newmarket had a chance to increase it on the restart in their opening possession.
The pace of Barry O’Connor saw him get a clear path on goal but in the end, when he was about to pull the trigger he amazingly fumbled the ball.
To be fair Ilen Rovers didn’t panic and three unanswered points in the opening four minutes from Dan MacEoin (2) and Alan Holland saw them edge ahead by the minimum.
The overreliance on Conor O’Keeffe continued but he did bring the teams on parity with a point from a placed ball in the 38th minute.
Two minutes later the same player had a wonderful opportunity to raise a green flag but somehow his shot crashed off the crossbar before ricocheting over the bar.
When Newmarket look back on this game they will surely rue their poor shooting and passing options that ultimately cost them the all-important win.
When the going got tough the tough got going and Ilen Rovers got a Man of the Match display from centrefield ace Peadar O’Driscoll who worked his socks over the 60-plus minutes.
There are scores that sometimes can lift teams to another level and it came in the 41st minute when Michael Sheehy kicked the best point of the game with a sublime kick.
Another key player in the Rovers' win was the introduction of Alan Holland in the first half and his four-point tally of which two were registered in the final quarter proved crucial.
The number of stoppages in the second half forced referee Peter O’Leary to play eight minutes of added time and the game was still in the melting pot deep into this period.
When Ilen Rovers needed one more push a wonderful point from Sean O’Donovan sealed the deal.
Ryan O’Keeffe brought the minimum between the teams in the 67th minute but that’s as good as it got for Newmarket as the relegation battle looms.
Judging by the scenes in the Ilen Rovers camp this win was a huge relief for the faithful.
D MacEoin 0-4 f, A Holland 0-4 (0-2 f), S O’Donovan 0-3, M Sheehy 0-2, D Hegarty 0-1.
C O’Keeffe 0-8 (0-7 f), B O’Connor 0-2, A Browne, B Daly, R O’Keeffe 0-1 each.
D O’Sullivan; P Minehane, S Minehane, S Carey; D Coakley, D Collins, C O’Driscoll; P O’Driscoll, D Hegarty; A O’Driscoll, D MacEoin, M Sheehy; J Collins, S O’Donovan, B Collins.
A Holland for S O’Donovan (22), C Harrington for C O’Driscoll (28), S O’Donovan for D Hegarty (48).
J O’Keeffe, M Browne, A Ryan, P Allen; D Norton, G Forde, B Daly; C Browne, M Cottrell; D Cottrell, K O’Sullivan, A Browne; C O’Keeffe, D O’Keeffe, B O’Connor.
R O’Keeffe for A Ryan (inj 26), C Buttimer for D Cottrell (42), D Culloty for K O’Sullivan (42), P Browne for B O’Connor (inj 52).
Peter O’Leary (Cloughduv).