ST FINBARR’S looked to their inspirational leader Ian Maguire when the game against Ballincollig began to go pear-shaped at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.
The Cork skipper was summoned from the bench just after Mark Oldham pounced for a Ballincollig goal after 53 minutes in the Bon Secours county premier senior football championship opener.
Astonishingly, it cut the Barrs' lead from 13 points to three, but they managed to hang on for a one-point success, 2-15 to 1-17.
Maguire didn’t start due to a hand injury, explained relieved manager Paul O’Keeffe.
“Ian has a small crack and didn’t feel comfortable to start, but he’ll be fine,” he said. “We spoke about it during the week and he said the role of coming on was better for him.
“And I’m delighted he decided to come on because it could have been a different story.
“Michael Shields also came on and you could see his experience in helping to shore things up and winning a number of vital balls in the last 10 minutes.”
The Barrs were cruising at 2-13 to 0-6 after 35 minutes following a couple of quick-fire Cillian Myers-Murray goals before Ballincollig rallied magnificently.
“I thought we took it for granted and believed the game was over.
“We had conceded five points in a row before the second water break and I had warned them, but we had lost momentum at that stage.
“We brought on Ian with 10 minutes to go because I could see the writing on the wall and we were sliding into a dogfight that we didn’t want to be involved in.
“It was disappointing because had we driven on when we were on top we could have won it comfortably.
“Thankfully, he didn’t and we’ll take the result. If you had said we’d have a one-point win over Ballincollig in our first game, I’d have taken it.
“It’s so important to get the result in the first game, but, no doubt, we have plenty to work on.”
Still, the Barrs were in full flow until the unexpected transformation.
“I felt coming into the game that there was a big performance in us. However, I didn’t believe there was a big collapse either.
“It’s probably a good thing in terms of the next two games and there certainly won’t be any complacency.”