‘Carrig Heroes Create History’
Writes Ciaran Dineen
St Michaels 0-11
Carrigaline created history last Sunday after they secured a heroic victory over St Michaels in the Premier Intermediate Football Championship final at Pairc Uí Rinn. This memorable win means that Carrigaline will now play Senior football next year for the first time ever, a long sought ambition for the club.
Second-half performances from the experienced Nicolas Murphy and captain, Barry O’Keeffe drove Carrigaline over the line, sending supporters, players and coaches wild after referee, David O’Leary blew the full-time whistle.
For 2010 All-Ireland winner Nicolas Murphy, a milestone has certainly been reached in what is his 20th championship year with Carrigaline. However some sterling performances from the likes of Brian Coakley, Billy Pope, Cian Barry and Simon O’Brien have also enabled the dream of Senior football to become a reality.
Carrigaline set the tone in the opening stages of the contest. Former All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling winner David Drake slotted over the opening point from a free. Brian Coakley also scored from a dead ball position within the first five minutes of the game, giving his side a lead of 0-2 to 0-0. St Michael’s retained possession thereafter but without any great attacking threat as they were held off by a resilient Carrigaline defence. However the Blackrock outfit eventually got on to the scoreboard with a free coming from Paul Cronin, halving the deficit. St Michael’s began to grow into the game after that score and within the space of three minutes they found themselves in the lead, points coming from Mícheál Mulconroy and a free from Cronin. Mulconroy was one of two players who started the game for St Michael’s, despite being named on the bench. The choice to start the veteran proved to be the right one as he was a nuisance all day for the Carrig defenders.
Carrigaline reacted well after losing the lead and broke back with a point of their own to level matters. Killian McSweeney found Brian Coakley, who duly put the ball over the bar. Kevin Kavanagh found some space in the middle of the park, descending on goal he whipped a shot towards the net but unfortunately it went over and not under the bar. However that point meant that Carrigaline had regained the lead and now led 0-4 to 0-3. Mulconroy levelled for St Michaels but Billy Pope split the posts to put Carrigaline ahead once more. Paul Cronin pointed another free for his side just before half-time meaning that the teams went into the dressing rooms all-square at 0-5 apiece.
In hindsight Carrigaline could have counted themselves lucky not to be trailing after the opening 30 minutes of play after St Michaels missed several frees from very kickable positions. Carrigaline’s tactics for the opening period were to find their big forwards ‘Coco’ (Brian Coakley) and Billy Pope, while also retaining possession when they had the ball. Cian Barry played the ‘sweeper’ role to perfection in the first half for Carrigaline but St Michael’s looked very dangerous when their forwards ran straight at their opponents defence.
Carrigaline made one change at half-time, with the yellow-carded Peter Murphy making way for Shane Griffin. Nicolas Murphy, who had a quiet first half, split the posts after being found by David Drake from a fast free. However St Michael’s responded well and took the lead with points, both from frees, being scored by Paul Cronin and Mícheál Mulconroy. David Drake scored from play for Carrigaline to tie matters once more leaving it 0-7 each.
Carrig then made a substitution which changed the game. Simon O’Brien came on for Evan Ryle and O’Brien immediately made an impact by scoring from a very difficult angle to put his side in front. O’Brien created havoc for the St Michael’s defence once he was introduced and was a key factor in the outcome of the match. Shane O’Keeffe scored for Michaels and Paul Cronin scored from another free as his side regained the advantage. Carrigaline captain, Barry O’Keeffe launched himself into the game by grabbing his first point of the match drawing the sides’ level once more. A poor clearance in the Carrig defence allowed Alan Nolan to capitalise but Shane Griffin quickly responded for Carrigaline to draw the teams’ level for an incredible ninth time.
With just over five minutes remaining, the game was finely balanced at 0-10 apiece. Both teams needed a hero in order to get over the line and luckily for Carrigaline they had two. David Drake pointed from a free and veteran Peter Murphy was reintroduced in place of the injured Billy Pope, in what was a real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ scenario. However St Michaels had one more roll of the dice. Mark Drummond came within the width of a post to scoring a goal for Michaels but his shot crashed off the bar and was heroically cleared away. Barry O’Keeffe was fouled which gave the opportunity to Brian Coakley to increase Carrigaline’s lead. The tension was palpable but ‘Coco’ split the posts under huge pressure to put his side two points up.
Calm and cool heads were required for the final moments of play. Fortunately for Carrigaline the ball found its way to Peter Murphy and once he was fouled next to the corner flag the referee blew the full-time whistle sending ‘Carrig’ into ecstasy.
It has been a long time coming but finally Carrigaline have achieved their dream of becoming a Senior club. Congratulations to all involved.
Carrigaline: Seán Mellet; Killian Forbes, Peter Murphy, Peter Ronayne; Cillian McSweeney, Cian Barry, Eoin O’Connor; Nicholas Murphy, Kevin Kavanagh; Evan Ryle, Barry O’Keeffe (captain), Eoin Kavanagh; David Drake, Brian Coakley, Billy Pope.
Substitutions used: Shane Griffin for P Murphy (30’); Simon O’Brien for E Ryle (38’); David Griffin for Killian McSweeney (41’); Matthew O’Reilly for E Kavanagh (48’); Peter Murphy for B Pope (56’).
Unused subs: James O’Reilly, Kieran Kavanagh, David Kirk, Wesley Ronan, Stephen Maguire, Denis Moran, Jamie DePuis
Scorers: D Drake 0-3 (0-2 frees), B Coakley 0-3 (0-2f), K Kavanagh, B Pope, N Murphy, B O’Keeffe, S O’Brien, S Griffin 0-1 each.
St Michaels: Alan Deasy; David O’Shea, Richard Dineen, Ciaran O’Shaughnessy; Aaron Giltinan, Mark Ryan, Alan O’Callaghan; Andrew Murphy, Pat Doyle; Daniel Meaney, Shane O’Keeffe, Mark Drummond; Mícheál Mulconroy, Eoghan Buckley, Paul Cronin.
Scorers for St Michael’s:
P Cronin 0-6 (frees), M Mulconroy 0-2, E Hegarty (free), A Nolan, S O’Keeffe, E Hegarty (free) 0-1 each
Referee: Denis O’Leary (Kiskeam).
Carrigdhoun Man of the Match: Cian Barry.