O'Sullivan leads Beara out of the wilderness

 

There is always something very satisfying when a long history of failure comes to an end and when Beara's supporters spilled on to a muddy Pairc Ui Chaoimh at the end of an absorbing Cork SF final replay yesterday, nobody could begrudge them an end to 30 lean years without a title. Torrential rain on Saturday did nothing but increase concerns about Pairc Ui Chaoimh's notorious drainage problem. However, both teams made light of the difficulties presented. Referee Niall Barrett also made a contribution to the day's drama and some of his decision-making was inconsistent. Castlehaven made strong claims for a penalty in the final moments, which might have yielded them two periods of extra-time. By and large, however, the paying customers, over 12,000 of them, left content with the afternoon's play.

While the contest was never for the fainthearted, there was a complete absence of rancour. The consensus at the end was that after these two matches, the draw and the replay, the prize went to the team which showed more style and awareness of what was necessary to achieve victory.

After an evenly-contested first half, which saw the teams end level at four points each, both teams stepped up a gear. In this respect, Beara showed more urgency in the opening period of the second half and within four minutes were two points ahead.

Castlehaven, however, buckled down to the task in difficult circumstances. After only 12 minutes they lost their mobile midfielder, David O'Regan; but having switched Larry Tompkins to fill the gap, they did not seem to lose control of this sector. By the ninth minute of the second half, the sides were still level at seven points each.

Then Castlehaven struck the kind of blow which so often wins matches. The Cleary brothers, John and Edmund, combined, John pumping the ball diagonally across the Beara square, and Colin Crowley timed his run perfectly to knock the ball to the net, past a hesitant Padraig Crowley. Complaints that the Castlehaven man was in the square before the arrival of the ball were dismissed and the green flag was raised.

Minutes earlier Padraig Crowley, the Beara goalkeeper, had been injured and he was replaced as the Beara back-up team came to the conclusion that his mobility had been affected in the earlier clash. There were those watching who must have felt that the replacement, Tim O'Shea, had arrived too late upon the scene.

However, Castlehaven were not able to bargain with the ability of Ciaran O'Sullivan. He was an inspiration to his Beara team-mates all through, and his expert free-taking soon had Beara back within touching distance.

His distribution of the ball from defence and midfield was a constant menace to Castlehaven, while he was also involved in the build-up to the score which decided the outcome.

Beara's vital goal came after Seamus Spencer outpaced the Castlehaven defence to drive the ball wide of Mike Maguire in the 21st minute, thereby restoring Beara's two-point lead.

It came as no surprise that it was O'Sullivan who put further daylight between the sides, with his fifth point of the match leaving the score at 110 to 1-7.

Yet the excitement was far from over and Castlehaven made one more Trojan effort to come to terms. Not surprisingly Larry Tompkins was leading the charge. He tried to barge his way past three Beara defenders and went to the ground. Castlehaven players, to a man, claimed a penalty, but the referee ordered a free out instead. A minute later, he blew the final whistle.

Castlehaven need not feel all that badly about this defeat. Players like Niall Cahalane, Alan Crowley, Larry Tompkins, the Cleary brothers and Colm Crowley were always in the thick of things and willing to serve their team to the fullest of their ability. For Beara, it was Ciaran O'Sullivan, Paul Hanley, Donagh Wiseman, Seamus Harrington and Seamus Spencer who most often caught the eye.

Beara: P Crowley; PB O'Sullivan, D Wiseman, S Walsh; N Harrington, C O'Sullivan (0-4, 4 frees), O O'Sullivan; P Hanley (0-1), S Harrington; S Spencer (1-3, 1 free), A O'Regan (0-1), M Harrington (0-1); N Murphy, R O'Dwyer, BJ O'Sullivan. Subs: T O'Shea for P Crowley (42 mins); S Deane for O'Dwyer (50 mins).

Castlehaven: M Maguire; D Cleary, B Collins, D McCarthy; D Cahalane, N Cahalane, L O'Connell; A Crowley, D O'Regan; M O'Mahony, L Tompkins, F Cahalane (0-1); E Cleary (0-1), C Crow- ley (1-1), J Cleary (0-4, 2 frees). Sub: L Collins for D O'Regan (13 mins). Referee: N Barrett (Carrigtwohill).