Clonakilty overcame a slow start to reach a first county senior football final in 12 years as they prevailed against Douglas at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday afternoon.
While they fell three points behind early in this Bons Secours Hospital Cork SAFC semi-final, Clon had shown in the quarter-final win over Duhallow that they were capable of coming back strongly and they led by 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time. When Seán McEvoy got his fourth point of the game in the 59th minute, they were 0-15 to 0-10 in front but Douglas came back as Alan O’Hare netted a penalty and then converted a free to leave a point in it.
It was a point that would remain elusive though as Clon’s solid defending ensured that they held out to advance to the decider for the first time since 2009 when they won their ninth county title.
At centre-forward, David Lowney was a valuable outlet for them while Seán White was a driving force from his wing-back berth and Thomas Clancy was formidable in a defence that tightened up considerably.
While midfielder Joe Grimes was not as influential in an attacking sense as he had been against Duhallow, he did enough to curb the impact of Douglas’s Brian Hartnett while Ben Ridgeway was strong in the second half. In attack, McEvoy was quietly efficient with his four points while Dara Ó Sé scored six points, five from play.
Douglas had a dream opening, with David Hanrahan kicking three points inside the opening seven minutes, two of them set up by Seán Powter, who had started at full-forward but was in a roving role. While Clon goalkeeper Mark White attempted a few of the upfield forays that have characterised their campaign, he found himself crowded out it seemed as if it would a long afternoon for them.
However, Clon got off the mark through Ross Mannix after a good catch from Jack O’Mahony’s delivery and Seán McEvoy added another following a nice link with Dara O’Shea. After an O’Hare point, McEvoy’s second left it 0-4 to 0-3 and though Conor Russell replied with a Douglas free in the 124h minute, they would only score once more in the first half with Clon taking control in the interim.
Liam O’Donovan was detailed to quieten Powter, in as much as that could be done, and a booming effort from centre-back Eoghan Deasy left it 0-5 each at the water break.
After the resumption, they had the lead for the first time through Ridgeway, emanating from a Seán White interception, and Ó Sé’s second free made it 0-7 to 0-5. There was a hairy moment as O’Hare almost turned over a short Mark White kick-out but the goalkeeper recovered and Ó Sé added two more points before the break, O’Hare finally ending Douglas’s 12-minute drought.
On the restart, Ross Mannix profited from good work by Seán White and Ó Sé to extend the lead to four on the restart, but Douglas did have three of the next four points, with O’Hare (two) and Niall Hartnett on target.
The loss of O’Hare to a black card was a blow, though, and while Clon’s Grimes suffered the same fate soon after, their defending remained composed. At the other end, Ó Sé and Seán White gave them breathing space again and, while Douglas sub Aaron Sheehy pulled it back to three points, 0-13 to 0-10, on 55, Clon pushed on again.
Ó Sé sent over a superb free from the left after his interception had forced a foul before McEvoy got his fourth after Ridgeway had seen a goal attempt blocked by Seán Wilson.
Five ahead as injury time dawned, Clon looked safe but Douglas had a lifeline as O’Hare was fouled following a ball across goal by sub Diarmuid McCarthy. The corner-forward slotted the penalty past Mark White and then sent over a free following a foul on McCarthy but no equalising attempt materialised and Clon ensured that they stayed on the front foot in the time that remained.
D Ó Sé 0-6 (0-5 f), S McEvoy 0-4, R Mannix 0-2, E Deasy, B Ridgeway, S White 0-1 each.
A O’Hare 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-1 f), D Hanrahan 0-3, A Sheehy, B Lynch, N Hartnett, C Russell (f) 0-1 each.
M White; T Clancy, M Shanley, D Peet; S White, E Deasy, L O’Donovan; B Ridgeway, J Grimes; D Ó Sé, D Lowney, G Barry; R Mannix, S McEvoy, J O’Mahony.
B Boyle; N Walshe, D Harte, S Wilson; K Flahive, D Ward, L McGrath; B Hartnett, N Hartnett; S Aherne, D Hanrahan, B Lynch; C Russell, S Powter, A O’Hare. C Daly for O’Mahony (40), C O’Donovan for Peet (55), S O’Donoghue for Daly (60), O Bancroft for L O’Donovan (60, injured).
D Murnane (Macroom). L Dineen for Walsh (19, injured), J Davis for Harte (39), A Sheehy for Aherne (40), D Kelly for Hanrahan (48), D McCarthy for Russell (50).