County under 21 football final report (25-08-13)

Clonakilty under 21 footballers took on Valley Rovers in the county final in Pairc Ui Rinn on Sunday, August 25th. On a fine afternoon and in near perfect conditions there was a very large crowd present and a great atmosphere prevailed. Unfortunately, both teams showed signs of nervousness, and poor shooting was the order of the day as scores were at a premium throughout. The Innishannon side were especially guilty in that regard but much of this was due to excellent Clon defending. Clon opened brightly and after a few attacks had been repelled it was Jack Cowhig who got the first score of the game after two minutes when he kicked over a fine point from a tight angle into the scoreboard end. A further seven minutes elapsed before the next score, a point from play to Valley Rovers. They quickly followed up with a similar score a minute later.. Clon had missed numerous chances in the meantime and for the next eight minutes play swung one way and then the other before an excellent point from a free, way out on the left sideline, was converted by Barry O Mahony.. There was no score again until the 26th minute when the Innishannon side pointed from play to leave the score at three points to two in favour of Valley Rovers. That was how it remained until half-time. Both teams were glad to hear the half time whistle as it was clear that neither of them had done themselves justice in a nervous and scrappy first half. The fresh breeze would favour Valley Rovers in the second half but that seemed to make little difference as Clon opened brightly and the dangerous Johnny Leahy scored an excellent point in the fourth minute from the right wing, the ball just making it over the bar off the goalie's fingertips. The same player scored the next point, again from play, in the eight minute. Three minutes later Leahy went on a brilliant run through the Rovers defence and and as he bore down on goal he was fouled just outside the square. He converted the free himself. Eventually, after many bad misses, the Innishannon side opened their account for the second half with a point from play in the sixteenth minute. Jack Cowhig responed with a point from play two minutes later and Clon appeared to be in control of the game when Ian Falvey rose high to tap the ball to the net in the eighteenth minute. The large Clon crowd were in fine voice now as they sensed victory. It was not until the 23rd minute that Valley Rovers finally got back on the scoresheet, with a point from play. They quickly added another similar score to leave a goal between the sides. With less than five minutes remaining Clon still appeared to be in control but an extraordinary sequence of events followed. A desperate attack by the Valley Rovers side saw one of their players shoot at goal from around twenty mnetres out. The ball cannnoned off a Clon defender and rebounded out the field to great cheers from relieved Clon supporters. Incredibly, the referee blew his whistle. Not even the most optimistic Valley Rovers supporters could have envisaged the decision he was about to give. To the consternation of everyone in the ground, including the clearly confused Valley Rovers players, he awarded a penalty apparently deeming that the Clon defender had been guilty of a foot-block. Despite protestations from the shocked Clon defenders, the absurd decision stood. Though Aidan Collins got his hand to the ball, it rebounded kindly to the penalty-taker and he knocked it into the empty net. The sides were level now and all of the momentum was with Valley Rovers. Within minutes, while Clon players were still protesting at the penalty decision, another attack saw the ball break loose and it was tapped into the Clon net for the clinching goal. Shortly after, the final whistle blew and, though it was a travesty of justice, Valley Rovers were winners on a score of 2-06 to 1-06. Clon players were understandably distraught. Losing a county final is always disappointing, but is part and parcel of the sport when the opposition play better. On this occasion there could be no doubt as to why Clon lost. It had little to do with Valley Rovers being the better team! Their players and supporters honestly admitted after the match that that the penalty should not not have been awarded. Clon had been deprived of a title that they richly deserved. The circumstances of the dramatic loss were as bizarre as they were unacceptable. Neutrals were as shocked at what had unfolded as were the Clon players, mentors and supporters. The defeat will long rankle with the Clonakilty club. Clonakilty have a long and proud tradition in Cork GAA. They have long since come to accept defeats as part and parcel of sport. Being defeated when the opposition is better than you is one thing. It is something that has to be accepoted. Defeat in the circumstances that unfolded in this match is entirely another. Hopefully, there will be many successful days for this group of players. They deserve better than they got on Sunday, August 25th 2013. Team; Aidan Collins, Colm Sheehy, Joe White, Cian O Donovan, Martin Scally, Sean White, Gearoid Barry, Thomas Clancy (c), Stephen Sheehy, Graham Murray, Barry O Mahony, Jack O Mahony, John Leahy, Jack Cowhig and Ian Falvey, Subs used; J.P Maughan for Stephen Sheehy, Scott Sheehan for Martin Scally. Other panel members were; Niall Mc Carthy, Alan O Sullivan, Cian Crowley, Josh Henry, Eoin Ryan and Jack Barrett. Team Coach was Sean Cowhig. Other selectors were, Pa O Connor, Timmy Anglin and Neil Deasy. Sponsors were Clonakilty Blackpudding Company Ltd.