ONE of the favoured teams for the blue riband of Gaelic football in Cork, Carbery, surmounted another hurdle in their pursuit of the ultimate when they secured a comfortable victory over Ballincollig at Cloughduv on Friday evening last.
That victory qualified Carbery for the quarter finals of the senior football championship and it was very much expected against a very much depleted Ballincollig side.
Notwithstanding their problems however there were periods when the Mid-Cork side trouble their fancied opponents particularly in the opening minutes. There were a couple of occasions where Ballincollig could have raised green flags and they will also bemoan the fact that they kicked six wides in the first period to their opponents two. They needed to take the lead however in order to knock Carbery out of their stride but they failed to achieve same and the talented West Cork side eventually pressed home their advantage.
Carbery took the lead in the third minute thanks to a Tadgh Downey point but there was an immediate response from Ballincollig. Right half-back John Paul Murphy made a determined solo run out of defence and it ended with Murphy confidently sending the football between the uprights. The outfield exchanges subsequently were even enough for a period but Carbery were more accurate with their scoring efforts. Points from Declan Barron and Brian O'Driscoll enhanced their prospects of victory but Ballincollig then put them on the back foot and Patrick Kelly and George Durrant were making an impact in their attack. Strong play by the former saw him winning a penalty so Ballincollig could now take the lead for the first time.
John Kelly was given the task of finding the net from the spot kick but his effort was foiled by the excellence of the Carbery number one Pat Prendergast who was also in the right place to foil a second effort at forcing the football over the goal-line. Following Ballincollig's failure to raise a green flag play swung to the opposite end of the field and Kevin Harrington, who was part of an excellent bout of combined play, knocked over Carbery's fourth point. The west Cork side subsequently produced a particularly purple patch when they scored four additional points in as many minutes. They were consequently leading on a scoreline of 0-8 to 0-1 but Ballincollig did well to claw their way back into the game before the interval.
George Durrant pointed two frees to raise their fortunes and John Miskella, a member of Cork's senior football All-Ireland winning side of 2010, surged forward from centre half back to register his side's fourth point which was an inspirational score. Carbery were confined to one additional point during the remaining first half playing time while Ballincollig were unlucky with another goal scoring effort. Prendergast somehow managed to get his hand to a powerful drive from Durrant and the ball went over the bar.
Ballincollig were only three points behind at the interval so they could face the second moiety with a reasonable degree of confidence. Their mentors were obviously worried about their position at midfield where Alan O'Connor was a powerful figure so they brought Patrick Kelly out from centre half forward and they introduced leading minor Cian Dorgan into their attack. Carbery's mentors were also determined to ensure that their side had the edge in the vital midfield section and they had O'Connor's Cork senior colleague Graham Canty joining him for the second half action. Young Dorgan signalled his entry to the fray by scoring a point that now left two between the sides but he had to depart the scene again as he suffered a leg injury.
The game was still delicately poised at that stage but the situation changed utterly when Carbery secured a major in the 40th minute. This goal scoring opportunity was created by the forceful play of Alan O'Connor who soloed goalwards in search of a point. His delivery was too high and off target but his determination was clearly in evidence as he was the next player to handle the football before it moved out of the playing scene. Having regained possession O'Connor made the opening for Declan Barron to increase his side's lead and the latter duly found the Ballincollig net.
Carbery were firmly in the driver's seat entering the final quarter leading 1-11 to 0-8 and introducing a substitute Stephen O'Mahony at full forward with maximum effect they put the game well beyond their opponents reach. O'Mahony scored 1-3 during his brief period on the field and Carbery who were certainly the better side finished with a margin of victory that did not do justice to Ballincollig's effort.
CARBERY: Stephen O'Mahony (1-3), Declan Barron (1-2, 0-2 frees), Tadgh Downey (0-2), Brian O'Driscoll (0-2), Mark Sugrue (0-2), Colm O'Driscoll (0-2), Conor O'Driscoll, Jamie Wall, Alan O'Connor and Kevin Harrington (0-1 each)
BALLINCOLLIG: George Durrant (0-4, 0-3 frees), John Paul Murphy, John Miskella, Luke Prendergast, Cian Dorgan, Ciaran O'Sullivan, David Bowen, David Tobin (0-1 each), Ian Coughlan (0-1 free)
CARBERY: P Prendergast (Bandon), P Murphy (Bandon), E Sexton (Klbrittain), K Harrington (Bantry Blues), B O'Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), J O'Donovan (Bandon), G Canty (Bantry Blues), A O'Connor (St Colums), R Deane (Bantry Blues), T Downey (Bantry Blues), D Barron (Bantry Blues), M Sugrue (Bandon) J Wall (Kilbrittain), P Kirby (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), C O'Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), Subs: C O'Driscoll (Goleen) for Downey, S O'Mahony (Gabriel Rangers) for Kirby, P Nolan (Gabriel Rangers) for Wall, K O'Sullivan (Klmacabea) for Deane, G Hurley (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), for O'Connor
BALLINCOLLIG: D Lordan, D Murphy, B Kelly, L Prendergast, J.P. Murphy, J Miskella, D Kerstein, C O'Sullivan, N O'Toole, G Durrant, P Kelly, R. Noonan, J Kelly, I Coughlan, D Tobin. Subs: C Dorgan for O'Toole, D Bowen for Dorgan
REFEREE: B Conroy (Crosshaven)