Monday 25 March 2019

Coachford lucky to draw with Beara in VS senior football final

COACHFORD . . . . . 1-5 BEARA CS . . . . . . . 1-5 BIDDING to clock up a third title on the trot, fancied Coachford College were fortunate enough to emerge with a share of the spoils from this Cork Vocational Schools senior football championship final encounter with Beara CS at Dunmanway last Sunday.

Extremely slow to settle, the Mid-Cork students could have no complaints when they found themselves four points adrift as the game entered the second-quarter.

And while they began to dictate matters towards the end of the opening period, they struggled to prise open a Beara defence in which Dara Carey turned in a man-of-the-match display at full-back, and Stephen Hanley and Michael Crowley were especially resolute also in the corner-back berths.

As a consequence, the holders were still seeking to break their duck as the first-half went into injury-time, but a spell of persistent pressure bore fruit virtually on the stroke of half-time when midfielder, Peter O'Riordan, rifled a ground ball to the roof of the net following a goalmouth scramble.

That gave Coachford a badly-needed boost, and they received another within seconds of the resumption when Beara corner-forward Concubhair Harrington failed to find the target with an easy chance from a free.

It seemed as if Coachford might be ready to stamp their authority on the proceedings after two points in quick succession from Colm O'Grady and Diarmuid O'Riordan pushed them ahead for the first time inside 34 minutes.

Beara soon showed, however, that they were in no mood to wilt, and, despite wasting two more chances from scorable frees, they managed to regain the lead, courtesy of a goal by full-forward, Kevin O'Sullivan, midway through the second-half.

To their credit, Coachford made light of that body-blow, and, as a dogged duel for supremacy unfolded, they bagged the next three points before centre-forward, Mark McNally, converted a free to bring Beara back on terms with under three minutes remaining.

Overall, a draw was probably a fair result, especially in view of the huge commitment displayed by the combatants in very testing conditions.

At the same time, Beara had reason to bemoan their failure to avail of three opportunities from frees early in the second-half.

Add in the fact that they were forced to start the second-half without injured wing-forward, Eamonn Jer O'Sullivan, and that corner-forward Concubhair Harrington shipped a heavy tackle which led to his departure approaching the last ten minutes, and Beara will, no doubt, feel that the fates weren't particularly kind to them on the day.

Coachford team manager, Dessie O'Grady, admitted afterwards that his charges were somewhat fortunate to get a second bite of the cherry.

"I thought we didn't play up to scratch, but we have a lot of young players on the team and maybe the nerves got to them.

"We will be hoping for a big improvement in the replay because a repeat of this performance won't be good enough against a Beara side which, in my honest opinion, deserved to shade the issue today," he said.

Beara certainly looked the better team for the first 20 minutes when Gary Lowney gave them an edge at midfield, and PJ Gonnelly, Pat O'Sullivan and Martin O'Sullivan formed a commanding half-back line.

They got off the mark through a superb point by Concubhair Harrington from way out on the right wing in the fifth minute, and they tacked on three more scores per Eamonn Jer O'Sullivan, from a free, midfielder Darren Nolan and the impressive Harrington before Coachford reshuffled their forces to good effect as the second-quarter dawned.

The introduction of Stephen Buckley at left corner-back on Harrington, for instance, helped to bolster their defence in which Sean Twomey, Mark O'Sullivan, Shane O'Leary, Dan O'Sullivan and David O'Leary rarely put a foot astray, and Coachford's fortunes improved also in the half-forward line after Diarmuid O'Riordan was brought out from full-forward to the right wing.

In addition, Peter O'Riordan thundered into the picture at midfield, with the result that Coachford laid almost constant siege on the Beara citadel as the first-half drew to a close.

The excellence of the Beara full-back line, however, meant that Coachford were unable to reduce the deficit until Peter O'Riordan blasted in the late goal which left them snapping at the West-Cork side's heels (0-4 to 1-0) at the break.

Good work by Diarmuid O'Riordan and Aidan Buckley paved the way for an equalising score by Colm O'Grady in the 34th minute, and O'Grady and John O'Mahony were involved in the build-up which led to another good point from Diarmuid O'Riordan seconds later.

With both defences going from strength-to-strength, scores were even harder to come by during the third-quarter, however, and it seemed as if Beara might have made a decisive breakthrough when Brendan O'Regan and Mark McNally combined to send Kevin O'Sullivan through for a goal in the 43rd minute.

But Coachford refused to lose heart, and sterling work on the part of Sean Twomey, Stephen Buckley and David O'Leary in defence, Peter O'Riordan and Diarmuid O'Riordan at midfield, and Colm O'Grady and Aidan Buckley in attack prevented Beara from consolidating their advantage.

After corner-forward John Hogan did well to fist over a probing delivery by Aidan Buckley, Colm O'Grady did the spadework for a point from Buckley before Diarmuid O'Riordan inched Coachford ahead from a long-range free in the 54th minute.

But Beara ‹ best served overall by Gary Lowney at midfield, and Stephen Hanley, Michael Crowley, PJ Gonnelly and the outstanding Dara Carey in defence ‹ displayed admirable resilience on the run-in, and were duly rewarded with Mark McNally's equaliser from a free inside the last three minutes.

While the heavy ground conditions ordained that the game was never going to be a classic, it would be fair to say that the sheer determination of the teams, not to mention the exciting finish, went a long way towards compensating for the lack of frills.

Scorers ‹ Coachford College; P O'Riordan (1-0), D O'Riordan (0-2, 0-1 free), C O'Grady, J Hogan and A Buckley (0-1 each).

Beara CS; K O'Sullivan (1-0), C Harrington (0-2), EJ O'Sullivan (free), M McNally (free) and D Nolan (0-1 each).

Teams ‹ Coachford College; J Ronan (Aghabullogue), S Twomey (do), S O'Leary (Canovee), W Perrott (Aghabullogue), D O'Sullivan (Donoughmore), M O'Sullivan (Inniscarra), D O'Leary (Aghinagh), P O'Riordan (Aghabullogue), T Hallissey (Canovee), B Healy (Inniscarra), C O'Grady (St Finbarr's), J O'Mahony (Inniscarra), J Hogan (Aghabullogue), D O'Riordan (Inniscarra), A Buckley (do).

Subs: S Buckley (Aghabullogue) for Perrott, J Pitman (Kilmichael) for Healy.

Beara CS; S Daly (Urhan), S Hanley (Castletownbere), D Carey (Adrigole), M Crowley (Bere Island), PJ Gonnelly (Castletownbere), P O'Sullivan (Adrigole), M O'Sullivan (Garnish), G Lowney (Urhan), D Nolan (Castletownbere), B O'Regan (do), M McNally (Tuosist), BJ O'Sullivan (Adrigole), C Harrington (Urhan), K O'Sullivan (Castletownbere), G O'Shea (do).

Subs: C O'Sullivan (Urhan) for EJ O'Sullivan (injured), T O'Sullivan (Adrigole) for Harrington (injured).

Referee: D McCarthy (Dohenys).