Under 21 football v Nemo Rangers report (10-07-13)

Clonakilty under 21 footballers took on reigning county champions and hot favourites, Nemo Rangers in the county semi-final in Bandon on Wednesday evening, July 10th in glorious sunshine and on a perfect pitch. This was a first-ever championship meeting of the clubs in this grade. The city side entered the game as the warmest of favourites, with no less than 13 of the previous year's county winning team on duty. Clon had to line out without full-back, Joe White due to injury. Martin Scally came in to a rearranged defence and did very well. A large crowd, mostly supporting Clon, was present as referee, Padraig O Leary set the game in motion. With the sun to their backs, Clon played into the town goal. There was scarcely a puff of wind. In the hectic opening exchanges both sides missed chances and it was the Nemo men who finally scored the opening point, from play,after four minutes. Clon replied with a similar score a minute later when the strong running Ian Falvey kicked over from thirty metres, out on the right. Nemo scored a point from play and followed up with one from a free in the next five minutes as Clon struggled to stay in contention. In the middle of the half Thomas Clancy kicked over a “45” and John Leahy followed with a point from play. Nemo missed numerous chances after this and though they did point a “45” and followed with a point from play, they failed to press home their advantage. Two glorious goal chances were missed, to the relief of Clon players and supporters. Just before the break, the hard working Jack O Mahony pointed a close-in free to leave the minimum between the sides as they players retired for a well deserved break, with the temperatures still well above 20 degrees. Before the break Clon had replaced the out of sorts Barry O Mahony with the determined and hard trying J.P. Maughan. He added a bit of vital strength to an attack that had had failed to function in the opening period. Despite being badly outplayed, Clon were only a point behind, five to four. It was a transformed Clon side that took the field for the second half. Thomas Clancy dominated possession around the middle and fielded some magnificent balls. There was more urgency in the Clon attack, where Jack O Mahony was especially impressive and John Leahy was a constant threat when in possession. The Clon defence was outstanding, with Sean White and Cian O Donovan especially prominent. They got tremendous help from Colm Sheehy, Scott Shehan, Martin Scally and Gearoid Barry. All six worked well as a unit and put the much vaunted Nemo attack under such pressure that the city side went twenty minutes without scoring at one stage during the second half. Behind this amgnificent defence, Aidan Collins was soundness personified. His lengthy kick-outs were a big benefit to the team. Clon levelled soon after the break with a fine point from play by Falvey. Nemo missed numerous chances to regain the lead, some of their shooting being truly abysmal. After a particularly poor effort their heads appeared to drop and Clon took control. Thomas Clancy, easily man of the match, won a great ball and parted to Leahy who scored from play to give his side the lead for the first time after 41 minutes. Within a minute Clon struck a again when Barry O Mahony, re-introduced for Stephen Sheehy, kicked a fine point from a thirty five metre free, well out on the left and directly into the blinding evening sun. When the city side missed a number of scoring chances in the next few minutes Clon supporters started to sense that, against all the odds, it might be their night. Nemo eventually got their first score of the half to narrow the gap to the minmum, at 0-07 to 0-06. Leahy then scored a great point from play with eight minutes remaining and the excitement and tension had the large crowd on their toes. Clon held on grimly until four minutes from time. A short kick-out was won by a Clon defender who was harshly penalised and the close-in free was converted to give the Nemo men a lifelione. They won the next kick-out and set up a swift attack that ended with a newly introduced sub, barely on the field, finshing to the net from close range. It looked like Clon's gallant effort was to come up short. However, the players had other ideas. They attacked determinedly and eventually got the break that their persistence and courage deserved. Johnny Leahy won possession out on the left wing and raced towards goal. He was brought to ground on the edge of the square. Nemo defenders surrounded the referee, some claiming that Leahy had charged with the ball and others claiming that any infringement occured just outside the large square. Their protests came to nothing. The decision to award a penalty stood and the ice cool Gearoid Barry stepped forward to finish to the net with a bullet of a shot, low along the ground and into the bottom left hand corner as he looked at the goal. The roar that greeted the goal could have been heard all over Bandon town. The game was now in injury time and the referee allowed it continue for three further agonising minutes. Clon succeeded in playing a possesion game, somehow managing to keep their hands on the ball at all times. The Nemo players became frustrated. Suddenly, a long ball from a surrounded Clon player found a colleague in splendid isolation on the right wing. Clon were able to lauch a counter attack and the impressive J.P. Maughan raced towards goal and calmly kicked over the bar to extend Clon's lead to two points. The final whistle blew on the kick-out and delirious Clon supporters swarmed onto the field to accalaim their heroes. It was a few minutes before order could be restored as Clon players and supporters celebrated a famous win. The players were cheered and clapped off the field by their large band of delighted supporters. Clon were able to start thinking about a county final date with Valley Rovers. While Thomas Clancy was the outstanding player on the field, the Clon defence deserve most of the credit for this win. Clon also used their bench to very good effect on this occasion, with J.P. Maughan and Josh Henry both being introduced to play major roles. Graham Murray was excellent all through, while Ian Falvey, Jack Cowhig and Stephen Sheehy can all feel proud at playing a role in a historic win. The management team are deserving of the highest praise for leading this team to a rare county final. The commitment was summed up by Sean Cowhig's efforts in returning from a family holiday abroad to be present to guide his team. Clon team; Aidan Collins, Colm Sheehy, Martin Scally, Cian O Donovan, Scott Sheehan, Sean White, Gearoid Barry, Thomas Clancy (c), Stephen Sheehy, Jack O Mahony, Barry O Mahony, Graham Murray, Ian Falvey, Jack Cowhig and Johnny Leahy. Subs used; J.P. Maughan for Barry O Mahony, Barry O Mahony for Stephen Sheehy and Josh Henry for Jack Cowhig