Cork's top-tier football quarter-finals produced contrasting ties 

Nemo Rangers, Castlehaven and Ballincollig joined champions St Finbarr's in the semi-finals in different ways
Cork's top-tier football quarter-finals produced contrasting ties 

Crowds watch the Bon Secours Cork County Club Football Championship game , Nemo Rangers vs Carbery Rangers at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Saturday. Pic: Larry Cummins

THE contrast between the opening Bon Secours county PSFC quarter-final between Nemo Rangers and Carbery Rangers and the last involving Ballincollig and Carbery couldn’t have been greater at Pairc Ui Chaoimh over the weekend.

While Nemo toiled to break down Rosscarbery’s heavily fortified ramparts Ballincollig increased their tally to a whopping 9-38 from their last three appearances in a shoot-out with the south-west representatives.

Carbery Rangers manager Declan Hayes clearly believed if it was entertainment you wanted on Saturday then the Opera House should have been your choice of venue.

His method was simply to set-up roadblocks on all approaches to keeper Paul Shanahan’s goal to such an extent that it appeared every available Bandon Garda car was on duty down the Marina.

Even John Hayes, that mercurial of forwards, appeared to spend most of his afternoon/evening in front of full-back Thomas O’Rourke as Ross regularly withdrew all 14 outfield players behind their own 45m line.

And the ploy almost worked, limiting Luke Connolly and Mark Cronin to a miserable 0-1 return and conceding just 2-4, but it still wasn’t enough as Nemo progressed by the minimum margin.

“The goal coming down was to win and we got it,” said a philosophical Nemo manager Paul O’Donovan afterwards.

“Carbery Rangers were extremely defensive and while we got bodies back, too, we were more inclined to press the ball up the pitch which I didn’t think they were doing.

“It makes it hard, no doubt about it, and it was our second game in-a-row, but we won both. Still, it was a poor performance and we’re limping into a semi-final.” 

Despite their ultra-cautious approach, Carbery Rangers kicked the opening three points before Nemo levelled with a Jack Horgan goal.

“We got ourselves organised and took a good goal, working the ball in well for Jack to score.

“We were fortunate with the goal in the second-half, the ball hitting the post and falling to the right man, Barry O’Driscoll.” 

Nemo made a triple substitution after 53 minutes replacing some big names. “We were trying to freshen things up. Barry’s calf was tightening, but it was just freshness overall.

“Ronan Dalton got a fantastic point. Colm Kiely got on the ball and the one ball that went in Conor O’Donovan won it and laid it off.” 

Ballincollig’s eye-catching 4-11 to 1-15 victory was from the other end of the entertainment spectrum and full credit to Carbery for not collapsing after falling 10 points down after 48 minutes.

“We’re delighted obviously with the outcome. I thought it was a good, solid performance though I wouldn’t be happy with conceding 1-15 and yet scoring 4-11 is decent,” said manager Podsie O’Mahony.

“We came into the game after scoring 5-27 in our two previous games so to add 4-11 to that is quite pleasing.

“The first two goals came from penalties following good forward movement and the two in the second-half showed that we can be a nice, attacking outfit, and still with plenty of room for improvement.” 

It’s all systems go for the semi-final double-header down the Park on Sunday week with Nemo-Ballincollig starting proceedings at 2pm followed by the latest installment in the seemingly never-ending saga between the champions St Finbarr’s and Castlehaven at 4pm.

Nemo will be happy not to be facing a third west Cork outfit with designs on repeating the tactics of Clonakilty and Ross though Ballincollig showed they’ve the weapons to cause problems for the Trabeg club.

Between them Cian Dorgan and Darren Murphy shared 4-7 and while the Connolly-Cronin axis was held on this occasion, they remain a potent threat.

As for the ’Barr’s-Haven? First thing is don’t make any plans on the basis of a 5.20pmish conclusion because of recent history.

Last year, the Togher club won through 5-4 on penalties after a thrilling draw after extra-time to avenge the previous season’s loss in similar circumstances, when Mark Collins held his nerve to slot home two penalties in sudden-death.

It promises to be just as close again, the holders qualifying directly for the last-four while the Haven denied Mallow by 2-14 to 0-13.

Damien Cahalane’s red card spoiled the victory, but a successful appeal could make him available.

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