Ballincollig 3-7 St Finbarr's 1-7
BALLINCOLLIG are the Rebel Óg U15 Premier 1 football champions after they deservedly defeated St Finbarr's 3-7 to 1-7 in an enthralling final in wet and blustery conditions at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday afternoon.
A sensational display by full-forward Adam Dodd, which saw him bury two supremely well-taken goals and six points, 0-3 from play, was crucial to Ballincollig claiming the silverware. David O'Leary pounced for the other Collig goal and they had physicality in key areas, with Theo Morgan, Ben O'Connell, Eoin Dwyer, Darragh Lee and Ben O'Regan making big plays in the second half when a spirited Barrs side battled hard to rally from behind.
Ballincollig reached this showpiece thanks to an emphatic 3-14 to 3-6 triumph over Killeagh, while the Blues had beaten Glanmire, 3-9 to 2-7.
The Village opened the scoring through midfielder Theo Morgan inside two minutes but the Barrs settled, dangerous number 13 Jack Brady moving well as they led by the sixth minute, 0-3 to 0-1.
Ballincollig responded with two clinical frees from Dodd to level before the first water break.
St Finbarr's may rightly feel that they should have been ahead but they hit three disappointing wides in quick succession - and eight in total - from decent positions.
They would be left to rue missing those good scoring opportunities as Ballincollig, who only hit three wides in the 60-plus minutes in comparison, grabbed the first goal of the final with 19 minutes on the clock thanks to David O’Leary.
The left corner-forward cleverly followed in a long hopeful shot and was on hand to punch the rebound into the back of the net from close range when it was spilled.
The Barrs responded brilliantly, thanks to three Brady points, two from frees, it was tied again, 1-4 to 0-7, in the 28th minute.
But deep into injury time at the end of the half, Ballincollig raised their second green flag of the afternoon through towering number 14 Dodd, who gained possession after Ben O’Connell’s shot was denied and emphatically drilled the ball into the roof of the net.
The pouring rain throughout the second period made it difficult for both teams to regain their rhythm and another brace of converted frees by Dodd saw Ballincollig stretch their lead to five points. That allowed them to pull bodies behind the ball in numbers and make it extremely difficult for the Blues to get clean shots off.
The Barrs management called on their players to get a much-needed goal during the interval and Conor O’Donoghue duly obliged after being picked out at the back post by Daniel Burke to give his club hope, 2-6 to 1-7.
Their revival was short-lived as Ballincollig cancelled that strike out with Dodd getting his second goal with a composed finish after a flowing counter-attacking move initiated by sub Jack Murray to see them begin the final quarter 3-6 to 1-7 in front.
The Barrs, to their credit, battled until the end but some resilient defending denied them another goal and in the end, it was Dodd that had the final say with one last great point to seal the win for Ballincollig by two goals.
It was the first major piece of football silverware for this Ballincollig group and a massive lift for them after being knocked out in the semi-final of the P1 hurling championship recently by subsequent winners Sarsfields.
St Finbarr's were left with their share of regrets but can bounce back next season. The grade is wide open with Bishopstown defeating Mallow in the Féile decider last month while Douglas were U14 champions in 2020.