As Autumn turns to winter, every year a Béara final becomes the yard-stick by which teams west of the Coomhola river measure their progress. For a club that considered folding just over 18 months ago, it is a remarkable story of community that Garnish mobilised 30+ footballers to compete in green and gold with pride in this year’s final, dispatching impressively of Castletownbere and Glengarriff en route.
However, a youthful and talented group of players (many of which will go on to play at a higher grade) from the neighbouring parish over the mine road was always going to be a tough encounter.
Urhan looked the livelier from the throw-inbut Garnish weathered the earlier storm, with Sean Terry and the in-form John O’Driscoll trading scores with two Urhan frees, conceded well within scoring range. Recent Cork minor, Joe O’Shea, showed his quality in initiating the attack that led to the final score of the quarter, Urhan leading 0-03 to 0-02. Whilst Dylan Henshaw levelled after the break, Urhan asserted their dominance in the middle third of the pitch with the impressive Alan O’Sullivan disrupting the Garnish attack. Urhan could have been a few points clear by half-time only for reliable free-takin from Fintan JL and Sean Terry. Garnish came out of the blocks with Rory O’Driscoll running at the Urhan defence. By the 40th minute the advantage had switched, Garnish leading 0-09 to 0-07. Yet, Urhan took advantage of a debilitating injury to Sean Terry, reducing the gap to a minimum.
The key moment in the game came on 52 minutes when a long-range free was spilled in front of the Garnish goal. Whilst a case could have been made to the referee to better protect the Garnish defenders, a game of ricochet ensued with the ball eventually finding way past goal-keeper Ross Murphy. Although Garnish had time to recover (and eventually pulled one back), Urhan played a possession game for the last few minutes. In the dying seconds, Sean Terry, turned possession over but a snap-shot left of the near post meant that Urhan were deserving winners by the slimmest of margins.
A disappointing day in which the team really never found its mojo. Yet, some excellent individual performances warrant a mention. Whilst John O’Driscoll has been sharing duties with Darren Derry in recent matches, he put in an excellent first-half display. Likewise, when Garnish were under pressure, it was two of the least experienced, Matthew O’Leary and Tommy O’Sullivan that kept the defense in-tact. Cian O’Neill, too, made a big impact as did the inspirational Brian Terry.
The possibility of redemption now looms closer with the defining match of this season just under two weeks away. This panel of players has given the Western parish plenty to cheer and cause for optimism. Perhaps, it can make itsown history in the coming weeks.
Ross Murphy, Matthew O’Leary, Eanna Murhpy, Tommy O’Sullivan, Darragh Henshaw, Paul O’Neill, Jack Andy, Brian Terry (0-2), Jerome Dwyer, Sean Terry (0-4), Brian Walsh, Rory O’Dwyer, Fintan JL (0-3), John O’Driscoll (0-1), Dylan Henshaw (0-1). Subs: Cian O’Neill, Dean Henshaw, Hugh O’Sullivan, Darren Deery, Ollie O’Sullivan.