CASTLEHAVEN manager James McCarthy has issued a warning to Kerry champions Dr Crokes ahead of the Munster decider: we're not going to just make up the numbers.
After watching his Cork champions battle to a one-point win over Waterford's Stradbally at a rain and wind-swept Clonakilty, the Haven manager admitted that while his team will be up against it in the final against defending provincial kingpins Dr Crokes, the west Cork side fancy their chances.
"We'll have to be playing out of our skins and the Crokes will have to have an off-day if we are to sneak a result. We will be the underdogs going into the final and we'll like it that way," McCarthy said.
A relieved man after the Haven had to fight back from a 0-6 to 0-1 half-time deficit yesterday, the Cork side were pushed all the way by a game Stradbally, who saw their challenge falter in the second half, when they scored just a single point, in injury-time.
Playing with a strong wind in the opening half, Stradbally coped the better with the testing conditions, using the height and strength of Shane and Robert Ahearne, who caused the Castlehaven full-back line plenty of problems.
Scores from David Grey and Shane Ahearne ('45') saw the Waterford men take the initiative early on, and while Haven midfielder Sean Dineen did reduce the gap with an angled effort, it was Stradbally who kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Points from Ger Power, Paddy Kiely, Niall Curran (free) and Ahearne (free) pushed Stradbally 0-6 to 0-1 clear at the break, but they had also racked up eight wides in that opening half.
Considering the strength of the wind and rain, Stradbally needed that five-point lead.
The Haven, now with the elements behind them, were more of an attacking force in the second half, but by the three-quarter stage, they still trailed by three, with points from Shane Nolan and Brian Hurley all they had to show for their battling efforts.
But just like in the Cork county final against Duhallow and in the Munster quarter-final against Drom-Broadford of Limerick, the Haven struck for a crucial goal inside the last 10 minutes – this time captain Seanie Cahalane rattled the net from close in after Stradbally 'keeper Oliver Costelloe failed to control a Damien Cahalane point attempt. The game was level, 1-3 to 0-6.
"We kicked three or four wides just after half-time and I said to the lads on the sideline that we need a lucky break here. And we got it," McCarthy said.
"We talked about it all year, follow in on the ball, and Seanie followed it in. We just got over the line."
Damien Cahalane followed up moments later with the lead point before Mark Collins added the insurance score two minutes from the end.
While brave Stradbally piled forward late on, the goal they needed never came, but Curran did send over an injury-time free to leave the gap at a single point, it was too little, too late.
Scorers – Castlehaven: S Cahalane 1-0, B Hurley, M Collins, D Cahalane, S Dineen, S Nolan 0-1 each. Stradbally: N Curran (2f), S Ahearne (1 '45', 1f) 0-2 each, G Power, P Kiely, D Grey 0-1 each.
Castlehaven – P Hurley; D Limrick, L Collins, T O'Leary; R Whelton, D Cahalane, C Hayes; S Dineen, D Hurley; S Cahalane, M Collins, A Cahalane; S Nolan, B Hurley, S Hurley.
Sub: S Hurley for Whelton (60).
Stradbally – O Costelloe; A Doyle, K Coffey, P Doyle; T Grey, E Rocket, S Lannon; M Walsh, D Grey; P Kiely, G Power, J Coffey; N Curran, S Ahearne, R Ahearne. Subs: S Cunningham for D Grey (48), T Curran for Power (54).
Ref – D O'Mahony (Tipperary)