St Finbarr’s 3-14 Duhallow 2-14
TEARS of joy flowed at the end of a breath-taking county senior football championship final as St Finbarr’s ended a 33-year wait to collect their ninth title at an emotionally-charged Pairc Ui Chaoimh yesterday.
The sizeable ’Barr’s contingent in the crowd of 6,511 gave vent to their feelings following the club’s long spell in the wilderness as they started to celebrate their first county since 1985.
And in keeping with the trend of this break-through season, the Togher club put everyone through the wringer once again against a talented Duhallow side, which fought right to the finish.
It was quite an extraordinary game. Three times in the opening half, the north-west division representatives surged five points clear and there was a sense of ‘here we go again’ from a ’Barr’s perspective.
Then, the pendulum swung the other way on the change of ends as the new champions swept three points in front only for Duhallow to reel them in and restore parity at 2-11 each by the 50th minute.
And yet what had gone before almost paled into insignificance to what was about to unfold in an even more dramatic climax.
In less than 60 seconds Duhallow literally gifted the ’Barr’s 1-1 from short kick-outs going astray.
First, substitute Eoghan Finn and Denis O’Brien combined after they intercepted a short re-start from keeper Patrick Doyle with Finn maintaining his composure to coolly slot home.
And Enda Dennehy steadied to pop over point number 12 from the next kick-out as the ’Barr’s raced 3-12 to 2-11 in front. Those who questioned Duhallow’s resolve soon got their answers.
Back they came with a vengeance as captain Anthony O’Connor, namesake Jerry and Kevin Crowley landed three points in a dizzy 90-second spell.
It was back to a one-point game, the ’Barr’s just about shading it, but this was far from finished.
Five minutes from the end, Doyle denied Sherlock with a stunning point-blank save as the ’Barr’s sharp-shooter went for the kill.
Yet, the momentum was with the men in blue. Three minutes later, substitute Colm Barrett used his speed to race clear before extending the lead to two points.
Then, in the first minute of three added-on, Finn fisted over the clinching score to spark wild scenes.
Such a climax to a successful ’Barr’s story-line didn’t appear convincing at all after Duhallow hit them with two goals in six minutes even though they managed one themselves in between, too.
The opening goal came after 15 minutes. Jerry O’Connor’s shot was turned away one-handed by keeper John Kerins only for the alert Seamus Hickey to side-foot the rebound to the bottom corner for 1-3 to 0-2.
Donncha O’Connor tucked away a fine penalty to Kerin’s left after what was considered a foot-block on Hickey’s goal-bound effort to cancel out a superb ’Barr’s goal in the 19th minute.
Colin Lyons, Colm Scully, Eoghan McGreevey and captain Ian Maguire linked for Sherlock to finish the move with a low shot to the bottom corner.
It was 2-7 to 1-7 at the interval, but it only stayed that way for 90 seconds as Lyons soloed through a gaping hole to level matters and set the tone for an edge-of-the-seat second period.
The ‘Barr’s struck four points without response immediately after Duhallow responded to the goal with a point. Colm Keane fired over from a goal-scoring position as the excitement levels cranked up.
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: S Sherlock 1-8 (0-8 f), E Finn 1-1, C Lyons 1-0, C Dennehy, D O’Brien, E Dennehy, C Keane and C Barrett 0-1 each
Duhallow: D O’Connor 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-3 f), S Hickey 1-0, J O’Connor 0-3 (0-2 f), E McSweeney 0-2, K Crowley, P Walsh, A Walsh, F O’Connor and A O’Connor 0-1 each
ST FINBARR’S: J Kerins; C Dennehy, J Burns, D Quinn; C Lyons, A O’Connor, C Scully; I Maguire, captain, E Comyns; D O’Brien, M Shields, E Dennehy; C Keane, E McGreevey, S Sherlock.
Subs: G O’Connor for Burns, half-time, E Finn for Keane 41, C Barrett for McGreevey 47, R O’Dwyer for Quinn 50, R O’Mahony for E Dennehy 60+3.
DUHALLOW: P Doyle (Knocknagree); B Daly (Newmarket), J McLoughlin (Kanturk), K Crowley (Millstreet); L O’Neill (Kanturk), K Buckley (do), L McLoughlin (do); P Walsh (do), A Walsh; F O’Connor (Knocknagree), S Hickey (Rockchapel), E McSweeney (Knocknagree); J O’Connor (Boherbue), D O’Connor (Ballydesmond), M Vaughan (Millstreet).
Subs: A O’Connor (Knocknagree), captain, for Vaughan 29, K Cremin (Boherbue) for F O’Connor 42, D Moynihan (Ballydesmond) for McSweeney 57.
Referee: D Murnane (Macroom).