O'Connor secures late winner in derby meeting

Rathnure 2-11 Cloughbawn 0-15

Dean Goodison

Pádraig Doyle of Rathnure grapples with Barry Carton
Pádraig Doyle of Rathnure grapples with Barry Carton
Paul Foley of Cloughbawn keeps a close watch on the sliothar

Substitute Cathal O'Connor pounced in the 59th minute to give his Rathnure side victory over Cloughbawn in the opening fixture in Group A of the Pettitt's Senior hurling championship at Bellefield on Friday.

With just over 60 seconds of normal time to play and his side trailing by 0-14 to 1-10, O'Connor latched onto the rebound of Seánie Redmond's blocked shot and rifled past Noel Carton to send the Blackstairs boys on the road to victory.

It was destined to take a moment of class to separate two sides that stuttered through long periods of the game. It certainly wasn't a classic, derby games rarely are, but it was committed and unrelenting from the first whistle to the last.

2016 county finalists Cloughbawn will look at this as a win that got away. Seventeen wides will do that to a team.

Missing is never acceptable but shot selection was, more often than not, as much to blame as the execution.

Maybe there's a trust issue. A lot of long-range efforts could have been worked a little closer to someone in a better position. Guys often backed themselves when a little more patience may have been the prudent option.

Rathnure, on the other hand, didn't create as many chances but were certainly more efficient. When it came down to it, the victors had that steely focus on getting a win on the board, an absolute determination to get off to a good start, and they managed to do just that.

There was nothing spectacular about the way Cloughbawn ground out a 0-4 to 0-3 lead after 13 minutes. Indeed, Rathnure would have been delighted with how the game was going at that stage.

However, down-breeze, Cloughbawn slowly pulled away. The pick of their scores was probably an excellent catch and quick-fire score from Bob Whitty, but Paul Foley also had three points on the board as his side moved 0-8 to 0-3 in front.

O'Connor's late goal was imperative but Jack Guiney's 26th-minute penalty was absolutely critical too. James Tobin was fouled under a high ball and it probably falls into the soft category as penalties go, but Guiney made no mistake with a low drive to the 'keeper's right.

Barry Carton's second point and Foley's '65 repaired some of the damage but twelve first-half misses would come back to bite a Cloughbawn side which went in at the interval 0-10 to 1-3 in front.

The Castleboro crew still led by four in the 37th minute. However, Rathnure's rally began with a succession of Ciaran O'Connor dead-balls a short time later. When he added his sixth in the 45th minute his side were level for the first time since the game was scoreless (1-8 to 0-11).

Cloughbawn's top scorer Paul Foley notched his club's next three points as they re-established a two-point lead with four minutes remaining. Yet, after Shane Lawlor's point, Cathal O'Connor got the goal that gave Rathnure their first lead.

Foley pulled Cloughbawn within one but Richie Flynn put the seal on a fine Rathnure win with one of the scores of the match in the second minute of added time to help his side to a flying championship start.

Rathnure: Dermot Flynn; Denis Maher, Brian Quigley, Antony O'Connell; Pádraig Doyle, Paddy Whiteley (capt.), Aidan Redmond; Richie Flynn (0-1), Declan Foley; Michael Redmond (0-1), Ciarán O'Connor (0-7, 6 frees, 1 '65), Jack Guiney (1-1, 1-0 pen.); Syl Barron, James Tobin, Brendan O'Leary. Subs. - Shane Lawlor (0-1) for Tobin (37), Cathal O'Connor (1-0) for Barron (50), Seánie Redmond for M. Redmond (55).

Cloughbawn: Noel Carton; M.J. Furlong, Tomás Furlong, Gavin Murphy; Barry Kehoe, Colm Kehoe, Páidí Cullen; Davin Murphy, Corey Bolger; Barry Carton (0-2), Alan Carton (capt., 0-1), Connal Flood; Bob Whitty (0-2), Paul Foley (0-8, 6 frees, 1 '65), Harry Kehoe (0-2). Sub. - Martin Kehoe for Bolger (50).

Referee: Gearóid McGrath (St. James').

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