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Cork County Senior Football Championship Final – Castlehaven 0-16 Nemo Rangers 1-11
Hurley’s heroics herald defiant Haven response
Castlehaven 0-16 Nemo Rangers 1-11
By John Fogarty GAA Correspondent for the Irish Examiner newspaper
Afterwards, Brian Hurley stood alongside his captain Sean Cahalane in holding aloft the Andy Scannell Cup. If the game was his, then so too would be the glory. And who could blame him? By his own standards, he was unhappy with what he offered up in the last two county finals but there couldn’t be any complaints with his 12-point return yesterday. Okay, so he kicked three wides but they were minor imperfections on a virtuoso performance that delivered Castlehaven their fourth senior title.
As well as a first-class display of forward play from Hurley, the 7,258 crowd in Páirc Uí Chaoimh were treated to a thrilling first-half, characterised by excellent finishing from both sides. Nemo Rangers went into the break 1-8 to 0-10 ahead but the whistle came at a good time for them as Castlehaven rallied well following Alan Cronin Snr’s brilliant 27th minute goal. Such was Hurley’s influence, Sean McKeown was called ashore in the 26th minute when a rearrangement of the Nemo back-line might have been a better option. For Hurley kicked the last three points of the first half, two from frees, to bring his tally to seven by the interval. The utilisation of a sweeper would have been better placed given the impact Hurley had but none was forthcoming and as much as Alan Cronin Jnr make a decent fist of firefighting against him in the second half.
Nemo may rue the lack of added attention on Hurley as well as their six second-half wides in a period when they only mustered two points from play. The second of them came from James Masters’ boot deep in injury-time when three points were needed off the back of some poor finishing from Nemo, which was in stark contrast to their economy in the first half. Barry O’Driscoll’s inexplicable wide from a close-range free in the 48th minute when Nemo were three in arrears was the fourth of the half. From a more difficult but scoreable position, he screwed another free outside the posts three minutes later.
When Hurley slotted over his free and 12th point in the 54th minute to give Castlehaven a four-point advantage the cost of his error increased. Castlehaven, though, still had to be alert as Nemo pushed to close their deficit and two minutes later Mark Collins put in an exceptional block on Alan Morgan. A quickly-taken Masters free cut the gap to three but Nemo’s avenues were made cul de sacs by Castlehaven and Masters’ point in the 61st minute, with only seconds left, was the equivalent of a resignation.
It had been Nemo — and Masters in particular — who found their feet quickest. Although the sides were level on four occasions in the first half, Steven O’Brien’s side led for most of it. They were up 0-3 to 0-1 thanks to a typical Masters swivel and kick point followed by Paul Kerrigan and O’Driscoll frees in the space of a minute, both earned by marauding Peter Morgan runs. As Nemo tightened their grip on the Castlehaven kick-out, Kerrigan fisted over another which was followed by a classy Roland Whelton point from distance.
Masters and Hurley then exchanged points before Castlehaven reeled off three unanswered points, a couple of Hurley frees followed by a Shane Nolan point. Whelton went into Conor Lane’s book for a foul on Dylan Mehigan, which Kerrigan converted to tie up the game only for Sean Hurley to boot over another excellent score. After Paudie Hurley was equal to an O’Driscoll goal-bound shot to parry it out for a 45, Kerrigan stepped up to split the post.
It was then Castlehaven’s turn to threaten the Nemo goal when Hurley broke down a ball which after a swap found Mark Collins. His rasping strike beat Darren Farry but not the crossbar. O’Driscoll’s second free put Nemo back in the ascendancy and then followed the only goal of the game. With the Castlehaven full-back line sucked out, Masters, in a playmaking role, kicked a delightful pass into the path of Cronin Snr and his deft finish beat Hurley. Had the first half gone on another minute, Haven would have likely turned around their four-point deficit by the break but they were back on level terms eight minutes into the new half when Colin O’Brien was whistled for over-carrying and Hurley converted.
It was the first of another trio of scores for him without reply although the latter point, a free awarded for a foul against Cronin Jnr, appeared harsh. Castlehaven, having held a one-point lead twice in the first half, were now two ahead and extended it when Sean Cahalane found his range to cap a thoroughly purple patch for the defending champions. Their defence of that lead in the remaining 15 minutes of action was just as emphatic.
Scorers for Castlehaven: B Hurley 0-12 (7 frees); R Whelton, S Nolan, S Hurley, S Cahalane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: P Kerrigan 0-5 (3 frees, 1 45); J Masters 0-4 (1 free); A Cronin 1-0; B O’Driscoll 0-2.
CASTLEHAVEN: P Hurley; T O’Leary, D Limrick, L Collins; R Whelton, D Cahalane, C Hayes; S Dineen, D Hurley; E Dennehy, S Hurley, M Collins; S Nolan, S Cahalane, B Hurley.
Subs: M Hurley for E Dennehy (38); D Hegarty for S Nolan (51); S Hurley for C Hayes, S Collins for S Cahalane (both 60 +1).
NEMO RANGERS: D Farry; S McKeown, B O’Regan, A Cronin Jnr; C O’Brien, K Fulignati, A O’Reilly; D Nation, P Morgan; A Cronin Snr, B O’Driscoll, D Mehigan; J Masters, P Kerrigan, A Morgan.
Subs: S Cronin for S McKeown (26); D Niblock for D Nation (37); C O’Shea for A O’Reilly (52); M Dorgan for A Morgan (56).
Referee: Conor Lane (Banteer)