Less than a year since Newmarket’s last county final, the footballers contested a decider of a different fashion on Saturday when they took on Bandon in Coachford in the Senior A relegation playoff. Bandon, like Newmarket, had been involved in close encounters during the regular season and both sides would have been disappointed to find themselves in the danger zone at the weekend.
A Daniel Culloty free on the 3rd minute opened the afternoon’s scoring, with two further points from Conor O’Keeffe five minutes later giving Newmarket an early advantage. A second Culloty free was cancelled out on 13 minutes, when Bandon registered their first score of the match. With Newmarket dominating possession, corner forward Ryan O’Keeffe pounced on the quarter hour mark, to score the first of his impressive four goals. Cousin Conor added to his total soon after, to push the lead out to seven, 1-05 to 0-01. Bandon endeavoured to bring themselves into the fixture and Newmarket had under 20 All-Ireland winner Josh O’Keeffe to thank for bringing off a reflex save on 18 minutes.
Danger man Ryan O’Keeffe found himself at the end of Newmarket’s next attacking move, finishing to the opposition net for the second time. He scored his first point moments later, to confirm Newmarket’s commanding position. Bandon were thrown a lifeline as the half drew to a close with the award of a penalty. The resulting kick was well finished to the Newmarket net, reducing the arrears to seven. Having 2-01 to his name already, Ryan O’Keeffe rounded off the period’s scoring with a closing point.
Needing scores, Bandon took the first two points of the second half with Newmarket replying through a powerful run and finish from midfielder Michael Cottrell. The West Cork side narrowed the gap to six on 36 minutes, but Newmarket regained control soon after with a point from Barry O’Connor and a 45 from the ever present Ryan O’Keeffe. Ryan turned provider soon after, setting up his on-rushing brother Darren to finish off Newmarket’s third goal of the day. Now in the ascendancy, Barry O’Connor scored Newmarket’s eleventh point moments before Ryan O’Keeffe completed his hat-trick. Not satisfied with three goals, O’Keeffe netted his forth on 58 minutes, completing an impressive personal total of 4-03, in what was a flowing team performance. Following the 5-11 to 1-08 victory Newmarket secured their status for the 2023 campaign and will look to the positives of the 2022 contest and the experience gained from a tough Group A, with previous opponents O’Donovan Rossa and Clyda Rovers both occupying semi final positions.
The team and their mentors can now look forward to a well earned break following an eventful and successful twelve months. Áth Trasna Abú.
The Newmarket team and scorers…
Ryan O’Keeffe (4-03, 1×45), Darren O’Keeffe (1-00), Conor O’Keeffe (0-03), Barry O’Connor (0-02), Daniel Culloty (0-02, 2f), Michael Cottrell (0-01).
|Mikey Browne||Alan Ryan||Paudie Allen|
|Aidan Browne||T. J. Brosnan||Bart Daly|
|Mikey Cottrell||Cathal Browne|
|David Cottrell||Kevin O'Sullivan||Barry O'Connor|
|Conor O'Keeffe||Daniel Culloty||Ryan O'Keeffe|
|Subs: Gavin Forde for TJ Brosnan (29, inj), Darren O'Keeffe for David Cottrell (40), Cathal Buttimer for Barry O'Connor (50), Daniel Norton for Bart Daly (56), John Ryan for Daniel Culloty (59)|