St Finbarr's 2-15 Ballincollig 1-17
ST FINBARR'S almost blew a 13-point lead in an amazing opening game in the Bon Secours county premier senior football championship at Pairc Ui Rinn on Saturday.
They blitzed Ballincollig by scoring 2-7 to just a single point from their opponents in a devastating 10-minute burst either side of the interval.
Two goals in as many minutes from Cillian Myers Murray shoved the Barrs 2-13 to 0-6 in front after 35 minutes and Ballincollig seemed set for a right hammering.
But, to their eternal credit, they summoned the willpower from somewhere to almost snatch a sensational draw at the of an incredible encounter.
Ballincollig's remarkable response coincided with the introduction of former Cork star Pa Kelly and Peter O'Neill, who scored twice in a run of five unanswered points to make it 2-14 to 0-11 at the second water-break.
Three further points on the resumption increased the tension and it reached even greater heights, when Mark Oldham netted seven minutes from the end of regulation time, 2-14 to 1-14.
Moments earlier the post robbed Myers-Murray of a hat-trick.
The Barrs were in trouble now, hence the need to summon Michael Shields and Ian Maguire from the bench, and with Cian Dorgan unerring, the gap was amazingly down to one after Cian Kiely's 61st-minute point, Sherlock having scored the Barrs' closing point minutes earlier.
Colm Scully thought he had made it safe only for his 'goal' to be ruled out for s square infringement, but the final whistle, a minute later, sounded like sweet music to the ears of all involved with the Barrs.
At the outset, Ballincollig settled quicker and led by 0-2 to 0-1 after five minutes. It was the only time they were in front though little separated the sides in the opening 22 minutes.
The Barrs created the only goal-scoring chances in the period, but Brian Hayes shot wide in the 14th minute and Collig keeper Jack Gibbons denied Sherlock, nine minutes later.
It was 0-4 to 0-3 to the city side at the water break and 0-6 to 0-5 in the middle of the second quarter before the Barrs hit a purple patch to pull away and occupy a commanding position.
Six points without response stretched their interval advantage to 0-12 to 0-5 and seemingly well on course for victory.
Fittingly, Sherlock started and completed the scoring sequence with his second 45 and second from play with Myers-Murray also getting in on the act.
Yet, the most eye-catching point came from Conor Dennehy, who joined the attack and showed neat skills to generate enough space and time to land a magnificent point just before additional time.
Ballincollig needed a good start to the second half, but it continued in the same vein with wing-back Colin Lyons curling over a beauty inside 30 seconds.
Then came Myers-Murray's double goal blast, Sherlock setting him up for the second goal and an apparent cruise to the finish line.
Ballincollig showed great pride in the jersey, though, with the pace and trickery of Darren Murphy supplementing Dorgan's threat as they outscored the winners by 1-11 to 0-2 in a quite breath-taking turnaround, only just to come up short in a nail-biting finale.
Scorers for St Finbarr's: C Myers-Murray 2-3, S Sherlock 0-7 (0-2 f, 0-2 45), D O'Brien 0-2, C Dennehy, C Lyons, C Barrett 0-1 each.
Ballincollig: C Dorgan 0-8 (0-3 f, 0-2 45), M Oldham 1-0, C Kiely, Darren Murphy 0-3 each, P O'Neill 0-2, P Kelly 0-1.
ST FINBARR'S: J Kerins; D Quinn, S Ryan, C Dennehy; C Lyons, J Burns, A O'Connor; L Hannigan, E Comyns; D O'Brien, S Sherlock, B Hayes; C Barrett, I O'Callaghan, C Myers-Murray.
Subs: C Scully for Quinn 38, M Shields for Comyns 46, I Maguire for Hannigan 53.
BALLINCOLLIG: J Gibbons; S Murphy, S O'Neill, JP Murphy; K Browne, L Jennings, C Kiely; S Kiely, C O'Sullivan; M Oldham, R Noonan, L Fahy; N Galvin, C Dorgan, D Murphy.
Subs: P O'Neill for Browne and P Kelly for Noonan, half-time, G O'Donoghue for O'Neill 34, C Moore for Browne 40, D O'Mahony for O'Sullivan 59.
Referee: A Long (Argideen Rangers).