ST FINBARR’S learned from the bitter disappointment of losing a penalty shoot-out last season by winning on this occasion following an epic victory over Castlehaven in the Bon Secours county premier senior football championship semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.
The Togher club won 5-4 after the great rivals finished 3-16 apiece after extra-time, with Steven Sherlock and Brian Hurley giving a master class in shooting.
Barrs keeper John Kerins was the hero, saving the Haven’s fourth kick and then slotting home the winner for a place in the final against Clonakilty.
“I’m not sure if we practised them for the Eire Óg game but we were definitely saying lightning wasn’t going to strike twice,” said relieved manager Paul O’Keeffe.
“I still think it’s a bloody awful way to end a game of this importance.
“There was nothing between the two teams and I still believe we should have a mechanism where we finish the game with some kind of play.
“It could be another five minutes of extra-time or a golden score which would determine the outcome on the scoreboard.
“I still believe penalties are an awful way to decide it and I’ve seen it from both ends.”
O’Keeffe outlined the thinking behind penalties. “We left it up to the team and the five lads put their hands up.
“There weren’t too many volunteers after that. It took some mental strength for John to take the last kick and fair play to him.
“The lads also decided the order themselves, too. Eoghan McGreevey was definitely going first and he set the tone.
It’s still the luck of the draw. Last year we had a shot come back off the crossbar and they got the better of us then.
“Now, it’s nice to come out the right side for a change.”
It was a game for the ages, swinging one way, then the next and back again.
“I’d say it was an incredible game for the fans to watch though it was God awful on the sideline.
“I don’t know how many times I felt we were dead and buried.
“When the Haven went three points up in extra-time and we had fellows dropping with cramp all over the field, I just sat back and said ‘we’re done.'
“Enter Steven Sherlock to kick three unbelievable scores at the end to let us back in. He’s having a phenomenal year and if he can continue with it for another game we will be very happy.
“I was joking with Steven before the game that I’d settle for 2-10, which is what he scored.
“It’s an incredible return, but I have to be fair to everyone because they all played to their maximum.
“We’re lucky in that we have depth on the bench and some of the hurlers who came back to us had huge games.”
The Barrs would have kicked themselves if the outcome had been different.
“In my own mind I was saying ‘I can’t believe we’re after doing it again’.
“I think we kicked 21 wides last year and it was 17 this time, but we had so many opportunities to put the game away.
“I was saying ‘what do we have to do to get this one over the line."