THE meeting of St Finbarr’s and Clonakilty in Sunday’s Bon Secours Cork Premier Senior Football Championship final evokes memories of their last clash, in 2009, when the West Cork club triumphed 1-13 to 1-12 to win their ninth title, in front of a crowd of 10,000 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
It was the 121st staging of the competition and the Barrs were coming in as premier intermediate champions.
One of the first contenders were Carbery, who scored 2-25 in their opening-round win over UCC.
And they made an even stronger case by disposing of the holders, Nemo Rangers, in the quarter-finals, winning 2-12 to 1-9, the same stage that the Barrs saw off the Castlehaven challenge, 0-14 to 0-13.
Clon were also gathering momentum, having needed two attempts to get the better of Aghada, before defeating Duhallow 2-14 to 1-12 to reach the semi-finals.
There, the Barrs ended Carbery’s run, 1-11 to 0-9, but it was tighter in the other game, with Clon edging Bishopstown by a point, 0-11 to 1-7.
On that basis, the smart money was on the city club, but the West Cork club proved that it’s all about performing on the day and what went before usually doesn’t have any bearing.
At the three-quarter stage, the Andy Scannell Cup was definitely heading down West, as Clon led 1-12 to 0-7, having dominated and not allowed their opponents’ highly-vaunted inside line into the contest.
And while the Barrs, surprisingly, had never moved out of first gear, they received a tonic with a much-needed goal, scored by substitute Jason Sexton after 47 minutes.
He weaved his way past a number of Clon defenders, before dispatching a shot to the far corner of the net and, suddenly, there was new life in the Togher blues.
The game took off as the Barrs rattled off a succession of points to restore parity with only four minutes of regulation time remaining and if there was to be a winner, then it looked odds-on it would be the city side.
But, there was to be another twist a couple of minutes later, when Clon were awarded a free some 45 yards out from the Barrs goal, following a foul on captain Timmy Anglin, after a surging run from deep.
Clon had a difficulty, however, because their regular free-taker, Colin O’Donovan, had been replaced and it was substitute David O’Regan who stepped up to accept responsibility.
O’Regan, who had come on for the injured wing-back Nigel Hayes in the first half, kept his composure to slot the winning free, though Clon had to defend frantically in the closing minutes as the Barr’s sought another equaliser.
Up to Sexton’s goal, there had been only one team in it. Clon had dictated matters from the start, with Anglin and Sean Nagle dominating midfield and Conor McManus and Colum Callanan causing all sorts of problems in the inside line.
Anglin scored Clon’s goal after 21 minutes, the captain availing of quick-thinking by Callanan and Padraig Griffin to help his side lead by 1-7 to 0-4 at the interval.
A three-point flurry early in the second-half consolidated Clon’s position until the Barrs hit back in an exciting finish.
Scorers for Clonakilty: C McManus, C Callanan 0-3 each, Timmy Anglin 1-0, P Griffin, M O’Brien, D Murphy, H Kenny, N Griffin, C O’Donovan (f), D O’Regan (f) 0-1 each.
St Finbarr’s: F Murray 0-5 (0-3 f), J Sexton 1-0, J O’Donoghue 0-2, R Leahy 0-2, 1f, G Leahy, R O’Mahony and C O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
CLONAKILTY: E Harte; T O’Sullivan, Tony Anglin, D O’Brien; D Murphy, N Griffin, N Hayes; S Nagle, Timmy Anglin; D Lyons, M O’Brien, C O’Donovan; C Callanan, C McManus, P Griffin.
Subs: D O’Regan for Hayes injured 28, H Kenny for O’Donovan 38.
ST FINBARR’S: K McTiernan; P Kennedy, M Shields, G O’Connor; C Lyons, J Coyle, M Ryan; E Keane, A O’Shea; C McCarthy, G Leahy, J O’Donoghue; R Leahy, R O’Mahony, F Murray.
Subs: R O’Dwyer for Coyle 25, C O’Sullivan for O’Shea 41, J Sexton for G Leahy 47.
Referee: C Lane (Banteer).
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