Experienced St Finbarr's drive for home in the last quarter against Ballincollig

Experienced St Finbarr's drive for home in the last quarter against Ballincollig
Steven Sherlock, St Finbarr's, tries to escape from Liam Jennings, Ballincollig, in the Cork Premier SFC clash. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

St Finbarr's 1-13 Ballincollig 0-10

ST Finbarr's pushed on to a crucial victory in the opening round of the Bon Secours Premier SFC at Páirc Uí Rinn after an arm-wrestle with Ballincollig.

After a very lively opening period, the second half was attritional and error-strewn for some time with the first-half goal from Eoghan McGreevy, pouncing after a mix-up at the edge of the square on 11 minutes, giving the Barrs a cushion to protect.

However, manager Paul O'Keeffe's charges had the physicality, experience and class to up the pace in the last quarter.

They had the usual dominant midfield display from Ian Maguire, who hoovered up kick-outs but also acted as a shield for his rearguard. Returning from injury, Cillian Meyers Murray clipped over four points from play and Cian Walsh did a superb job tracking Collig centre-forward Luke Fahy after a switch before the break.

Eoghan McGreevey and Ian Maguire, St. Finbarrs, rise high with JP Murphy and Kevin Browne, Ballincollig. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Eoghan McGreevey and Ian Maguire, St. Finbarrs, rise high with JP Murphy and Kevin Browne, Ballincollig. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Sam Ryan was also back in the 2018 champions' line-up after an absence and helped shore up a defence that limited the Village to just a single Cian Dorgan free early in the second half. That came after Patrick O'Neill had denied Evan Cooke a goal.

The Barrs actually failed to split the posts on the restart until the 45th minute but Meyers Murray's haul of three points across the next 12 minutes killed off Ballincollig.

Maguire franked their second-half superiority with a rasping effort from a McGreevy offload heading into added time before Colm Barrett had the luxury of fisting over a goal chance in the closing exchanges.

They have a depth to their squad, with All-Ireland winner Michael Shields processing the world of ball in his late cameo and Denis O'Brien's heft was telling in that period too. 

The Barrs confirmed their status as favourites in a group featuring Clonakilty and Carrigaline with this solid showing, but Ballincollig will need to regroup to try and qualify in one of the top two spots. 

New manager Podsie O'Mahony had them firing in the first half but careless use of possession and slow delivery to the inside line cost them dearly. They also failed to make the extra man count between the 15th and the 25th minute when Olan Murphy had been sent to the sin-bin. 

Indeed across that spell, Barrs produced some of their best football, coming from 0-6 to 1-2 down to lead 1-6 to 0-7 as Murphy was returning to the fray, with a high press forcing Ballincollig into mistakes that Colm Keane, Eoghan McSweeney, Brian Hayes and Meyers Murray turned into points.

Colm Scully, St Finbarr's, receives treatment for a blood injury. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Colm Scully, St Finbarr's, receives treatment for a blood injury. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Scorers for St Finbarr's: C Meyers Murray 0-4, Sherlock 0-4 (0-3 f), E McGreevy 1-0, E McSweeney, I Maguire, B Hayes, C Keane, C Barrett 0-1 each. 

Ballincollig: C Dorgan 0-6 (0-5 f), D Murphy 0-2, L Fahy 0-1, C Kiely 0-1 f.

ST FINBARR'S: P O'Neill; S Ryan, J Burns, G O'Connor; C Scully, O Murphy, A O'Connor; I Maguire (c), C Keane; C Barrett, S Sherlock, C Walsh; C Meyers Murray, B Hayes, E McGreevey. 

Subs: A McCarthy for Scully (b-s 13-20), O Murphy (sin-bin 15), D O'Brien for Murphy (45), M Shields for Keane (50), C Lyons for Scully (53).

BALLINCOLLIG: J Gibbons; S Murphy, N Galvin, G O'Donoghue; K Browne, L Jennings (c), C Kiely; JP Murphy, P O'Neill; S Kiely, L Fahy, E Cooke; C Dorgan, P Kelly, D Murphy.

Subs: C O'Sullivan for O'Neill (36), D Dorgan for Cooke (43).

Referee: J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).

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