Castlehaven been 'grafting for ten year' to win back Andy Scannell Cup

Castlehaven thrived in turning the smother defence on their opponents. A dose of their own medicine. A turnover. Their breakaway ended with Michael Hurley kicking his fifth from play
Castlehaven been 'grafting for ten year' to win back Andy Scannell Cup

FAMILY AFFAIR: Castlehaven brothers Brian and Michael Hurley with their mother Patricia with the Andy Scannell trophy after defeating Nemo Ranger's in the Bon Secours Premier SFC final at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Picture; Eddie O'Hare

Cork Premier SFC final

Castlehaven 0-11 Nemo Rangers 0-9 

The first team to take Nemo Rangers for 11 scores this championship were rewarded with the Andy Scannell Cup. Castlehaven’s prize was fitting and proper. They had managed a feat that had proven beyond every other opponent to crash against the black and green wall.

In this season of Nemo stifling and Nemo shutouts, the back-to-back chasing city men came up short in this latest attempt to suffocate the life out of their opponents.

Nemo did not lead this unpalatable decider until the first minute of the second half. They would lead on a further four occasions. But never by more than a point.

Containment almost seemed more of a priority than cutting open the opposition. Once in front, they seemed more concerned with babysitting their lead than building on it.

Midfielder Barry Cripps edged them 0-9 to 0-8 ahead with two and a half minutes of regulation time remaining. The plan from here was to manage and protect. The Hurley brothers, though, could not be managed. The lead could not be protected.

A perfectly executed Brian Hurley mark shortly after tied proceedings for the eighth time. A minute into injury-time, Hurley, from the hand, nailed a free from just outside the 45-metre line. It was the first time they had led since the 27th minute. Timed to perfection.

Nemo’s hand was now forced. From mass defence to mass attack. Even goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin crossed inside the Haven 65-metre line.

Castlehaven thrived in turning the smother defence on their opponents. A dose of their own medicine. A turnover. Their breakaway ended with Michael Hurley kicking his fifth from play.

A first county for Castlehaven in 10 years and sixth in total. Manager James McCarthy, 20 years after masterminding his first, is now responsible for half the club's Andy Scannell haul.

The Hurley brothers sought to deflect the spotlight onto their teammates in the South Stand tunnel. But when a pair of brothers share 10 white flags from a winning total of 11, there is no deflecting.

“I’m obviously delighted myself, but this isn’t about me,” younger brother Michael said of his 0-5.

“I was lucky enough to be here 10 years ago. We’ve been grafting for ten years, knocking on the door. This is for the fellas who didn’t have one in their back pocket. It’s for them, and all the supporters as well.” 

Those rapturous blue and white hordes were close to pitching a tent inside the whitewash in the hour after full-time. From 10 years of waiting to time standing still.

“Castlehaven is a special, special place,” Hurley continued. “It’s very hard to explain it to people who aren’t from there. Football is what keeps us going. It’s like we don’t know anything else really.” 

Football was a rare commodity during a wretched opening half. An interval scoreline of 0-4 apiece said as much.

It was an opening half that finished with Castlehaven carrying possession along the 45-metre line. A perfect metaphor. The Haven in control of the ball but not being allowed go anywhere meaningful with it.

Shunting them out beyond the scoring zone was a Nemo rearguard that included every man, woman, and child in black and green bar Luke Connolly.

Connolly was their outlet when they squeezed the last drop of patience out of their opponents and forced either a turnover or an inadvisable shot from distance.

Castlehaven met more cul de sacs than they’d expect to find down their neck of the West Cork woods. Michael Hurley once had six bodies surround him. None were teammates.

The Haven finished the half with six wides. The pair from Mark Collins and Damien Cahalane along the well-trodden 45 were prime examples of such inadvisable kicks.

Down the Blackrock End, Collins and Cahalane fronted an almost equally stout Haven rearguard. In one instance that captured many like it, Connolly was dispossessed by the double-teaming of Ronan Walsh and Cathal Maguire.

Connolly, in reply to Michael and Brian’s opening efforts, opened the Nemo account in the ninth minute. Then nothing at all for 11 minutes.

Jack Horgan and Barry O’Driscoll points either side of Michael’s second tied them at 0-3 apiece on 21 minutes. Stalemate was still the order of the day when referee Pa O’Driscoll temporarily released us from the grind.

Outside of the 10 second half minutes it took Castlehaven to find a leveler to the Connolly free that put Nemo 0-7 to 0-6 ahead, part of an overall 18-minute barren spell, they were prompt each time the holders went one up.

Three points in the closing five minutes was a deluge following a drought. Castlehaven's drought is no more. The West re-awoken. The West rule once more.

Scorers for Castlehaven: B Hurley (0-3 frees, 0-1 mark), M Hurley (0-5 each); S Browne (0-1).

Scorers for Nemo Rangers: M Cronin (0-3, 0-3 frees), L Connolly (0-3, 0-1 free); B Cripps, B O’Driscoll, J Horgan (0-1 each).

Castlehaven: Darragh Cahalane; R Walsh, Damien Cahalane, J O’Regan; T O’Mahony, R Maguire, C Maguire; M Collins, C Cahalane; A Whelton, J O’Neill, S Browne; J Cahalane, B Hurley, M Hurley.

Subs: C O’Driscoll for Browne (46); R Minihane for Whelton (49); J O’Driscoll for O’Neill (56); C O’Sullivan for O’Mahony (60).

Nemo Rangers: MA Martin; K Histon, B Murphy, K O’Donovan; C Molloy, K Fulignati, S Cronin; B Cripps, A O’Donovan; C Horgan, M Cronin, L Horgan; J Horgan, B O’Driscoll, L Connolly.

Subs: P Kerrigan for L Horgan (45); R Dalton for O’Driscoll (46); G Sayers for Molloy (49); C Kiely for C Horgan (56).

Referee: P O’Driscoll.

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