County Minor Football Final Report (30-09-13)

Clonakilty minor footballers captured a first ever Premier 2 county title for the club on Monday, September 30th by virtue of a thrilling win over a gallant Inniscarra side in a game that had everything in the way of thrills, spills, drama and excitement. On a damp night and slippery surface both teams combined to produce a memorable final, worthy of the occasion and a game that will long linger in the memory of those lucky enough to have been present. Clon were slight favourites for the game but the absence of their outstanding defender, Sean White, was a major loss and those close to the team knew that Inniscarra would prove difficult opponents. Clon lost the toss and had to play against the strong breeze, away from the dressing room goal. However, it was a rampant Clon side that opened the brighter. Within a minute, the otstanding Jack O Mahony, who was to prove inspirational over the hour, scored a point from a close in free. In the third minuite Jack Cowhig, who had an excellent game, floated over a free from a really difficult angle out on the right. Clon supporters were in fine voice and things got better in the fourth minute when lively corner forward, Sean Mc Evoy evaded a succession of tackles as he cut in from the right and parted to the ever-dangerous David Lowney who planted the ball in the net. Within a minute, Eoin Ryan, who was to prove a real thorn in the side of the Inniscarra defence, knocked over a fine point from twenty five metres out. It looked as if it would turn into a rout at that stage as Clon were dominant in every facet of play. Eventually, after getting a grip around the middle of the field, Inniscarra started to attack more and a point from play in the tenth minute saw them opening their account. Sean Mc Evoy responed with a similar score for Clon a minute later. After a period of pressure, but no scores, Clon added a point by Jack O Mahony from play. This was followed by two points, free and play, from Inniscarra as they grew more and more into the game. Jack Cowhig scored a fine point from play in the twenty fifth minute and Inniscarra responded immediately with a similar score. A minute later, after further sustained pressure, Inniscarra breached the over-worked Clon defence and a penalty was conceeded, It was expertly converted with a bullett of a shot and it was very much "game on". Urged on by their large and noisy support, Inniscarra came more and more into the game and only excellent defending kept them at bay. The Clon half-back line of Mark White, Josh Henry and Tiarnan O Connell did well under pressure while the full back line were outstanding, well marshalled by Cian O Donovan, ably assisted by Darragh Mc Cullagh and Eoin Deasy. Jack O Mahony pointed from a free taken from a very tight angle on the left wing and followed with a fine point from play just before the very efficient referee, who had an excellent game, blew for half-time. At the end of a fiercely competitive and very enjoyable half it was 1-08 to 1-04 in favour of Clon. There was a great buzz in the stadium as the supporters knew that they were witnessing a really entertaining battle, fought in great spirit and with no rancour whatever. Clon had a dream start to the second half when the ever-dangerous David Lowney, a contender for man-of-the-match, raced through and kicked over a delightful point off his left leg into the city goal. Instead of deflating the Inniscarra boys the score seemed to spur them on to even greater effort. They proceeded to dominate the next ten minutes of play and turned a five point deficit into a three point lead with some devastating play that had the Clon side reeling. A point from a free in the second minute was followed by a goal a minute later when one of their forwards powered past the entire Clon defence before parting to a colleague who just beat Clon goalie, Niall Mc Carthy, to the touch. The stadium erupted as even the neutrals became engrossed in the drama that was now unfolding. Though the weather became most uncomfortable, with heavy rain falling and the surface becoming slippery, both teams threw themselves into the battle with great aplomb. Every ball was contested as if the outcome of the game depended on it. The physically stronger Inniscarra boys revelled in the conditions. They ran at the hard pressed Clon defence at every opportunity and a point from play in the seventh minute had them ahead for the first time. When they added similar scores in the eight and tenth minutes they were three points to the good and looked all over the winners as a shell-shocked Clon side seemed helpless to turn the tide back. Inniscarra were dominating possession and retaining it very well. Clon were thrown a life line when Jack Cowhig scored a fine point from play and Jack O Mahony added another a minute later. The Clon mentors made a master stroke at this stage by introducing young Ross Mannix and he proved to be an inspirational substitute. He tapped over a lovely point from the left wing and after a period when both sides missed chances it was the inspirational Jack O Mahony who gave Clon the lead with a wonderful point from play. The momentum appeared to be with Clon now and Jack Cowhig added a similar score in the twenty first minute. Clon then had to withstand some fierce pressure and their goal led a charmed existence. Inniscarra missed one glorious goal chance from a few metres out when the first time effort of one of the players was kicked wide when it seemed easier to score. Another high ball into the goal was just batted out by Niall Mc Carthy from under the crossbar and the ever vigilant Cian O Donovan completed the clearance. Clon certainly enjoyed the rub of the green in those desperate minutes as an incredibly brave Inniscarra side threw everything at them. Eventually, the siege was temporarily lifted with five minutes left on the clock as a long ball out of defence found Jack Cowhig and as he raced for goal he was fouled. He converted the free himself to make the margin three points. Inniscarra were not done for yet. Displaying extraordinary energy and determination in the conditions, they laid siege to the Clon goal. Clon defenders had to concede frees and two points from those close-in frees in the fifty seventh and fifty ninth minutes left the minimum between the sides. In between, Clon had another lucky escape as a terrific shot from one of the Inniscarra forwards struck the crossbar and rebounded to safety. Clon hearts were in their mouths and it was certainly not a place for the faint-hearted. Supporters of both teams, as well as neutrals who had come to watch the second game, were now equally engrossed in the drama and there was an unbelieveable atmosphere in the ground as the final dramatic minutes were played out by two wonderful teams, each striving for a first county title in the grade. Nobody would have complained if the game finished level. It very nearly did. With the clock showing thirty minutes gone Inniscarra mounted a desperate attack and one of their players bore down on goal. With the levelling point at his mercy, he opted to go for a goal, apparently in the mistaken belief that his side were two points down. Three Clon defenders converged on him at the edge of the small square and he was held up well. As he fell to the ground there were shouts for a penalty but they were rightly waived away by the excellently positioned referee. The ball was cleared and after a delay over a contested line ball, the final whistle was sounded. The scoreboard stood at 1-15 to 2-11 in favour of Clon. The referee's final whistle sparked off wild scenes of delight among Clon players and supporters. After many heartbreaks in Pairc Ui Rinn, Clon had broken their hoodoo there, and a first county minor football title had been won. The win was a reward for a great effort made all year. It was a also a reward for the determination shown by the players in overcoming adversity. They had been forced to play the semi-final with a depleted team and, though under strength again for the final, in less than satisfactory circumstances, they had shown marvellous commitment and determination to triumph. Amid wild scenes of delight the cup was presented to a very worthy captain, Jack O Mahony and Clon's delight was added to when Jack Cowhig was named man-of-the-match. He deserved the honour but there were many of his team mates in contention also. It was a team effort from start ot finsh. Over the course of a very impressive campaign twenty two players saw action. Each and every member of the panel can look back with satisfaction at what was achieved. The team mentors, John Leahy, Eoin O Mahony, Eoin Ryan and Podge Tanner can feel proud of the part they played in masterminding a famous win. The defeated Inniscarra side were shattered at the final whistle but they too can look back with pride at the part they played in making this a memorable county final, worthy of the occasion. The Clon team was; Niall Mc Carthy, Eoin Deasy, Cian O Donovan, Darragh Mc Cullagh, Tiarnan O Connell, Josh Henry, Mark White, Paul O Regan, Cian Crowley, John Paul Maughan, David Lowney, Eoin Ryan, Sean Mc Evoy, Jack Cowhig and Jack O Mahony (Capt) Ross Mannix came on for John Paul Maughan. Others who were on the panel were; Ciaran Crowley, Eoin O Neill, Peter O Regan, Zack Harrington, Sean O Donoghue and Liam O Donovan. Unavailable for the final were Sean White and Joe White. Both had played important parts during the campaign.