Castlemartyr Bridge the Gap

Castlemartyr Finally Bridge the Gap

Castlemartyr 0-23 Sarsfields 2-11

Castlemartyr ended their 45-year wait for Jamesy Kelleher’s return with a valiant and inspiring performance in the East Cork Oil JAHC Final in Rostellan on Saturday, September 5th 2009.

While the Reds went into the game as underdogs, they showed their determination from the throw-in as Jimmy Smiddy claimed the opening honours with an early first score. However, this was quickly negated by Sars as a long-range Gary Grey free reached the target. Sars looked sharper in the opening exchanges, and when Garvan McCarthy rattled the net with the first goal of the game, Castlemartyr found themselves 5 points in arrears. However, Jimmy Smiddy and Evan O’Keeffe kept them in touch until they were dealt another blow as Cian Smith’s delivery fell to Sars corner-forward Eoin O’Sullivan who claimed his side’s second goal. At this point, the game seemed set to follow the script, but Castlemartyr never let their heads drop and continued to battle on through the first half. Barra O’Tuama, the impressive Brian Lawton, Ollie Smiddy and Evan O’Keeffe put in strong performances, while Jimmy Smiddy showed true class as his accuracy from all angles kept his side in the game. While a 5-point deficit at half-time suggested a Sars victory, Castlemartyr’s determination kept hopes of a competitive second half alive.

And what a second half it proved to be! Four points in four minutes reduced the Reds’ deficit to a solitary point, though Sars centre-forward Pat Barry pushed out his side’s advantage with two good points. This was to be the end of their advantage, however, as the Castlemartyr attack gained momentum and their self-belief showed through. When Evan O’Keeffe’s point drew the sides level, Castlemartyr looked like a team that would not be beaten. Colin Bowens put them in front, and they went on to completely dominate the second half, scoring freely and making a great defensive effort to also hold their opponents to just 3 points in the second half. While this victory was the result of a heroic team effort, special mention must go to Man-of-the-Match Jimmy Smiddy whose composure, leadership and, of course, his 11-point tally, inspired his side to a historic win.

Congratulations are due to all involved in a most entertaining, high-quality final. Well done also to Aghada GAA Club, who had everything in order for the occasion, and to the referee Patrick O’Driscoll and his officials.

Castlemartyr: Jimmy Smiddy 0-11, Barry Lawton and Derek Bowens 0-3 each, Evan O’Keeffe 0-2, Sean Hennessy, Brian Lawton, Colin Bowens and Ollie Smiddy 0-1 each.

Sarsfields: Eoin O’Sullivan 1-2, Garvan McCarthy 1-1, Pat Barry 0-4, Garry Grey 0-2, Michael Kenneally and Cian Smith 0-1 each.

Castlemartyr: Dave Fleming, Barra O’Tuama, Robert O’Donovan, James Deehan, Adrian Bowens, Brian Smiddy, Ollie Smiddy, Peter Horgan, Brian Lawton, Jimmy Smiddy, Sean Hennessy, Derek Bowens, Barry Lawton, Mark Bowens and Eoin O’Keeffe. Sub used Colin Bowens for Mark Bowens.

Sarsfields: Willian Flynn, Damien O’Regan, Paul Roche, Eoin Whooley, Fintan Burke, Philip Fahy, Garry Grey, Cian Smith, Joe Cashman, Cormac Duggan, Pat Barry, Thomas Crowley, Michael Kenneally, Garvan McCarthy and Eoin O’Sullivan. Sub used: James Burke for Joe Cashman.

Referee: Patrick O’Driscoll, Bride Rovers.

The Cobh team who won the East Cork Final in 1959 were honoured at half-time as part of the GAA 125 celebrations, and a word of thanks must go to John-Joe O’Regan who organised this and to all the Cobh players who attended.

Tracey Kennedy, East Cork Board PRO