Paudie Palmer: Ger O'Halloran was suitably honoured when Bandon and Ballinhassig served up a classic

Rather than a postponement, a PIHC quarter-final thriller caught the imagination at Brinny
Paudie Palmer: Ger O'Halloran was suitably honoured when Bandon and Ballinhassig served up a classic

Patrick O'Leary, Ballinhassig, battling Aidan O'Mahony, Bandon, in the PIHC last weekend. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

THE passing of the planet’s longest-serving bainisteoirí, Queen Elizabeth, brought back some memories.

Chief among these, was the decision of the soccer authorities across the pond, to postpone the majority of matches as a mark of respect. Wearing the cynical hat, the said decision was probably more about euro, sorry sterling, than it was about anything else.

Back to the memories, many of us will remember the good old days, when a parishioner passed, the GAA gates automatically locked. About 25 years ago, around these parts, a lady was called to the stadium in the sky and because the son of her second cousin was involved with the local GAA club, a midweek league game was postponed. I have no doubt that there are other examples.

Thankfully, and again Connie Covid could have played a part, the tight scheduling of games has put a stop to such occurrences.

In case, you arrive at the conclusion that I have extended my fault-lines to include a heart in an ice cube, I wish to state that respecting the dead can be done in a more positive manner than pressing the postpone button.

This day last week, Ger O’Halloran, a Bandon native who lived for the majority of his life in Ballinhassig passed away after a brief illness. The gentleman that he was, in every respect of that term contributed enormously in voluntary capacity to the GAA.

At club level, over a 30-year period, he sat on several committees, occupied a number of officer positions including being the club chairman and secretary.

He was a selector with a number of Ballinhassig teams including some that brought back county trophies back to his adopted plot.

SERVICE

He served as Cork minor, U21 and intermediate selector and in his latter years, he involved himself as a mentor with a number of MTU hurling teams. He was also a valued member of Bandon Golf cCub.

There is no doubt, that he will be missed by so many but none more so than by his wife Bernadette, children Sinéad, Niall and Ciara and to them and all his family and friends, we extend the column’s sympathies.

I must confess that a few issues from this columnist didn’t receive his approval but discussions on same were always enjoyable, entertaining and humorous. Yes, I will miss him!

Ger O'Halloran (fourth from left) pictured prior to an MTU Cork training session along with, from left, Peter O'Keeffe, John Mortell (manager), William Hurley, Ian Mortell, Conor Prunty, Ger Collins, Liam O'Shea, Donal Mannix and Ger's son Niall O'Halloran.
Ger O'Halloran (fourth from left) pictured prior to an MTU Cork training session along with, from left, Peter O'Keeffe, John Mortell (manager), William Hurley, Ian Mortell, Conor Prunty, Ger Collins, Liam O'Shea, Donal Mannix and Ger's son Niall O'Halloran.

If I could take liberty, the gentleman’s passing was marked by actions rather than by a postponement.

The crowds that attended his removal on Friday night and his funeral mass on Saturday morning in Ballyheada Church (some rural setting) were, to be put it bluntly massive and served as a testament to his wonderful voluntary contribution to society.

If again, I could be somewhat irreverent, the final part of the send-off occurred at Brinny on Saturday afternoon when Bandon, the club of his birthplace took on the Ballinhassing, the club of his resting place in the County PIHC, quarter-final.

The venue was packed, and credit to the host club Valley Rovers whose logistical organisation was very much in evidence. To add to the poignancy of the occasion, Ger O’Halloran’s father, the late Jimmy was member of Valley Rovers.

Prior to throw-in a most respectful minute's silence was observed, what a way to say goodbye, there was no need to postpone.

Then the battle, and it was that, players and mentors who had attended the removal/funeral earlier were now lining up with and against each other. They did it with pride and commitment.

The teams were level twice in added time, before Darragh O’Sullivan, an All-Ireland minor winner with Cork, posted two beauties and blues were in a semi-final where they will play Inniscarra in Cloughduv on Saturday week at 4pm.

With eight minutes on the clock, one of Bandon’s younger brigade, Dylan O’Donovan sent a long delivery into the Ballinhassig square, when the sliotar broke, it was dispatched excellently by Cathal Lynch and Bandon, the underdogs lead by seven.

Prior to halftime, we were treated to two majestic sideline cuts. Michael Cahalane cut one over to put his side six ahead. A minute later Brian Lynch did likewise.

A crucial moment in the game arrived just before the break. Ballinhassig’s tall athletic full forward, Conor Desmond picked up possession a distance from goal, he went on sprint mode and when timing was perfect, he laid it across the goal for Ger Collins.

CRUCIAL

The reach for the green flag had probably begun, when the Bandon custodian Oisin Hennessy, a native of Ballyea in Clare, combined with corner-back Mattie McNamara which forced Collins to put it over rather than under the bar.

It left four between them but more significantly, the incident ensured that Bandon had to play the second half without their talented keeper. Yet 43 minutes in, Bandon were still six to good with Darren Crowley rolling back a year or two and firing over from all directions.

Willie Wallace the referee had indicated his penchant for over-carrying on a few occasions and when a Bandon player was adjudged to have taken a step too many, he awarded a free in.

Ger Collins was back centre stage, there appeared to be a plentiful supply of defenders in position. Did anyone see it? I doubt it, not until it hit the net.

With four minutes remaining, the West Cork team were still three ahead when they failed to deal with a Ballinhassig outfield delivery.

The aforementioned Darragh O’Sullivan who had taken over the free-taking duties from the injured Brian Lynch followed up on the defensive slip up and his goal ensured parity for the first time. Level two minutes into injury time, when sub Charlie Grainger fired over two.

Michael Cahalane and Charlie Long responded, the amphitheater readying itself for extra time when the O’Sullivan beauties arrived.

We had witnessed a thriller, a fitting tribute to all who played a part and of course to our departed special one.

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