On Sunday last Bantry Blues U21s travelled to Enniskeane to play hosts Ahan Gaels in the 2023 CLONA Milk Carbery GAA Football Championship, with a place in the West Cork Final at stake.
The blues were tight in numbers, with a long list of injuries including four players who played at Premier Intermediate level this year. A tough battle was expected.
The game started at blistering pace with both teams attacking & defending hard. Paddy Cronin who has had a super year to date, being one of the top scorers in the Premier Intermediate Championship was on top of his game with 1-01 in the opening ten minutes, with the Blues leading 1-04 - 1-00. As the game settled scores became hard to come by after Noah Cronin's point on eleven minutes despite the non stop work of the Sheedy brothers in the full forward line. The blues defence were now under pressure but excellent defending by the full back line of Conor Cronin, Ruairi OShea and Daithi Shiels held the hosts to just two points in the middle third of the first half. With a lot of hard work being done by the middle eight, with Dara McCarthy & Michael ODonovan along with Ted Wiseman & Luke Salter Townsend covering lots of ground and distributing well before the blues scoring commenced again on the 21st minute with a point from play by Paddy Cronin, who continued on his scoring run with a further 1-02 from play before the break with the blues only conceding a further point thanks to some excellent goalkeeping by Ben Clancy. At this stage it looked like the blues were well in control with Paddy Cronin executing the excellent possession he was given by his team mates.
HAlf Time Score : Ahan Gaels 1-03 (6) V 2-08 (14) Bantry Blues
Like the first half, the game started at a blistering pace with Ahan Gaels setting down a marker scoring 1-01 in the first two minutes of the half to bring the deficit back to four before Dara Sheedy stroked a beautiful point over the bar from thirty yards. At this stage there was great intensity in the game, but the blues players were taking some knocks. Jack Sheedy took a hard challenge and looked like he could be in trouble, but he refused to lie down. Moments later Michael ODonovan had to be replaced after a clash, with Conn OCallaghan taking his place. It didn't take Conn long to make his mark when he raised a white flag shortly after his introduction and within another minute Conn got on a ball and ran directly at goal to hit the back of the net and raise a green flag to bring the game back to the eight point half time difference. This was followed shortly by another point for the blues when young Dara Sheedy again split the posts. At this stage the earlier knock which Jack Sheedy received was begining to show and Jack was replaced by Christoper Cronin, who linked up well with his older brother Paddy on his introduction. The Blues were now under pressure as Ahan Gaels got a second wind scoring 1-04 without reply to bring it to a three point game with five minutes remaining. The half back line of Oran Wiseman, Patrick Goggin & John Crowley who all had played strongly throughout the game were getting on more ball and defending well. As the tension mounted and the Blues supporters were getting anxious Paddy Cronin pointed a free on the 27th minute giving a four point gap with only minutes remaining. However the hosts were not going to give up and some excellent defending by the blues restricted their scoring opportunities restricting them to two points from frees before the final whistle leaving the Blues two point victors and a West Cork Final to look forward to.
Full Time : Ahan Gaels 3-10 V 3-12 Bantry Blues
Back Row ; L to R ; Mark Óg OSullivan, Conor Cronin,Owen ONeill, Fionn Barry,Paddy Cronin, James Crowley,Patrick Goggin, Michael ODonovan,Noah Cronin, Eoghan ODonoghue,Fionn Odonovan, John Crowley, Oran Wiseman, Ted Wiseman
Front Row ; L to R; Damien Odonovan,Cillian Obrien,Daithi Shiels,Daire Kingston,Christopher Cronin,Luke SalterTownsend, Dara Sheedy,Ruairi OShea,Conn OCallaghan, Ben Clancy, Jack Sheedy, Dara McCarthy,
Bantry Blues Sponsored by Bantry Credit Union
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