O'Rourke pivotal as Carbery Rangers win Cork title for first time
Carbery Rangers 1-15 Ballincollig 1-12
Five fine points from play by John O'Rourke helped Carbery Rangers to win a first Cork SFC title at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
The Rosscarbery side had been here before in recent times - this year was their sixth semi-final appearance since 2009 - but had endured much heartbreak, including defeat to Ballincollig two years ago.
O'Rourke helped them to come good here, while former Cork player John Hayes also contributed five points and Chris O'Donovan's 38th-minute goal was the key score.
That put them 1-10 to 0-9 in front, and after Cian Dorgan had an impressive long-range free in response, two excellent O'Rourke points provided breathing space.
Afterwards, the Rangers manager, former Cork player and coach Ronan McCarthy, paid tribute to his influence.
"He's an outstanding player, an outstanding talent," said McCarthy. "He saved the best for last in terms of the final and his performance. By his own standards he had a quiet enough couple of games, but he performed well today."
McCarthy also reserved plaudits for the way in which the team didn't let past failures haunt them.
"They deserve this. Their focus has been fantastic all year. I know that because there was no talk about other years and other games that mightn't have gone their way," he said.
"There was no mention of semi-finals or finals that happened in previous years, certainly no mention of the previous final against Ballincollig.
"They're a hugely talented group and it's great to see them get the reward."
O'Rourke and John Hayes had some lovely points in an even first-half, with Dorgan's frees Ballincollig's primary source of scores. The 2014 champions could have gone four ahead in the 19th minute, though, as Seán Kiely was wide with a goal effort when they led by 0-5 to 0-4.
O'Rourke levelled immediately afterwards and by half-time they were 0-8 to 0-7 to the good, with John Hayes and O'Rourke opening up a three-point advantage in the opening three minutes of the second-half.
While John Miskella and Ian Coughlan replied for Ballincollig to cut the gap to a point, Rangers weren't shaken and moved four in front as wing-back Jerry O'Riordan made a surging run before passing off to Chris O'Donovan, who tucked his shot away.
By the 46th minute, two super scores from O'Rourke had put them six in front, 1-12 to 0-10, and Alan Jennings was unlucky not to add a second goal after he had battled well.
At the other end, Paul Shanahan saved well from Patrick Kelly before two Hayes points looked to have made the game safe.
A penalty, converted by Dorgan, gave Ballincollig brief hope, but time wasn't on their side and their opponents held on for victory.
Ballincollig manager Ned English had no complaints.
"We just came up short today, simple as that," he said.
"A couple of our big players probably didn't put in the performance we needed from them. You don't like singling anybody out, but we were just beaten by a better side."
Scorers - Carbery Rangers: J Hayes (0-2 frees), J O'Rourke 0-5 each, C O'Donovan 1-0, S Hayes 0-2, B Shanahan, J O'Riordan, R Kiely 0-1 each. Ballincollig: C Dorgan 1-7 (0-5 frees, 0-1 45), I Coughlan 0-2 (frees), J Miskella, S Lucey, C Kiely 0-1 each.
CARBERY RANGERS: P Shanahan; K MacMahon, M Kelly, T O'Rourke; J O'Riordan, R Kiely, P Hodnett; B Shanahan, J Fitzpatrick; A Jennings, J O'Rourke, B Hodnett; C O'Donovan, S Hayes, J Hayes. Subs: D Hayes for C O'Donovan (44), M O'Donovan for MacMahon (50), C O'Rourke for S Hayes, M Mennis for M O'Donovan (both 55), K Fitzpatrick for B Hodnett (59), S Murray for Jennings (60).
BALLINCOLLIG: D Lordan; S Murphy, E Hegarty, L Jennings; S Lucey, N Galvin, C Kiely; S Kiely, C O'Sullivan; R Noonan, P Kelly, G Durrant; C Dorgan, I Coughlan, J Miskella. Subs: K Browne for Durrant (44), J Kelly for Coughlan (50), L Fahy for Noonan (59)
Referee: K Murphy (Nemo Rangers).