FROM the opening round games in qualifying on the first weekend in September to the November-end final, the Bon Secours county PSFC throbbed with excitement.
The 2021 championship certainly didn’t lack drama, ranging from Valley Rovers’ shock one-point win over the defending champions Nemo Rangers on day one through to the penalty shoot-out drama of the St Finbarr’s-Castlehaven semi-final to the closing minutes of the decider itself, when Steven Sherlock emerged as the Blues’ hero.
The championship was crammed into 85 days with the second year of the group phase underlining the general view that the new format is proving a big hit with all involved.
Group A comprised Nemo, Valleys, Douglas, and Carrigaline with all bar the last-mentioned club renewing rivalry once more, but the results different on this occasion.
Not only did the Innishannon club cause a major upset with their 1-9 to 0-11 victory over the holders, but Douglas inflicted a similar defeat, 1-10 to 0-11, on their neighbours in a first-ever championship success, to end Nemo’s grip on the Andy Scannell Cup as Valleys and Douglas advanced to the knock-out stages.
Carrigaline propped up the table, conceding 12 goals in the process, and looked odds-on favourites to be relegated until stunning Ilen Rovers 1-10 to 0-10 in the play-off, courtesy of substitute Callum Barrett’s last-gasp winning goal.
Newcomers Éire Óg found themselves in Group B with heavyweights Castlehaven, Carbery Rangers, and Newcestown, but the Ovens club found the top table more than suitable.
Veteran Daniel Goulding fired them to second place following wins over Rosscarbery and Newcestown before pushing the Barrs all the way in an exciting quarter-final before losing by 1-16 to 0-12.
The Togher club certainly had an eventful championship, beginning like an express train against Ballincollig only to almost derailing in the second-half, falling over the line by a point, having been 13 points in front by the 35th minute.
Ilen extended them in their second game in Group C as well, but the Barrs were more convincing against Clon, winning by seven points.
Nobody could have predicted the pair squaring up again in the final, but that’s how the championship shaped up after the knock-out games.
Fourteen-man Barrs pulled away from Éire Óg in the closing stages of their quarter-final while Clon impressed in reeling in Duhallow and the Haven had too much for Valleys.
The Barrs-Haven semi-final was one of the most exciting and dramatic in years as the city club were more accurate in penalties than in 2020.
Clon ended Douglas’s season, winning by a point, and that was the same margin in the final with Sherlock’s late winner deciding a gripping contest.
Final: St Finbarr’s 0-14 Clonakilty 0-13.
Semi-finals: St Finbarr’s 3-16 Castlehaven 1-16 (After extra-time), ’Barr’s won 5-4 on penalties; Clonakilty 0-15, Douglas 1-11.
Quarter-finals: Clonakilty 0-13 Duhallow 1-9; Castlehaven 1-14 Valley Rovers 0-10; St Finbarr’s 1-16 Eire Og 0-12.
Relegation play-off: Carrigaline 1-10 Ilen Rovers 0-10.
R1: Nemo Rangers 0-11 Valley Rovers 1-9; Douglas 1-15 Carrigaline 0-9.
R2: Nemo Rangers 6-17 Carrigaline 1-9; Douglas 0-13 Valley Rovers 1-9.
R3: Douglas 1-10 Nemo Rangers 0-11; Carrigaline 0-8 Valley Rovers 5-12.
Table: 1. Douglas 6 pts (+12), 2. Valley Rovers 4 pts (+19), 3. Nemo Rangers 2 pts, 4. Carrigaline 0 (-52).
R1: Carbery Rangers 1-9 Éire Óg 1-15; Castlehaven 2-12 Newcestown 1-10.
R2: Éire Óg 2-16 v Castlehaven 2-19; Carbery Rangers 0-8 Newcestown 0-9.
R3: Castlehaven 1-9 Carbery Rangers 0-11; Éire Óg 1-11 Newcestown 0-11.
Table: 1. Castlehaven 6 pts (+9), 2. Éire Óg 4 pts (+6), 3. Newcestown 2 pts, 4. Carbery Rangers 0 (-8).
R1: St Finbarr’s 2-15 Ballincollig 1-17; Clonakilty 3-10 Ilen Rovers 0-11.
R2: St Finbarr’s 0-17 Ilen Rovers 1-11; Clonakilty 1-10 Ballincollig 0-12.
R3: St Finbarr’s 1-12 Clonakilty 1-5; Ballincollig 2-17 Ilen Rovers 0-10.
Table: 1. St Finbarr’s 6 pts (+11), 2. Clonakilty 4 pts (+2), 3. Ballincollig 2 pts, 4. Ilen Rovers 0 (-21).
1. Steven Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) 3-41;
2. Brian Hurley (Castlehaven) 4-29;
3. Dara Ó Sé (Clonakilty) 2-31;
4. Daniel Goulding (Éire Óg) 0-22;
5. Billy Crowley (Valley Rovers) 1-16;
6. Cian Dorgan (Ballincollig) 0-17;
7. Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers) 2-10;
8. Michael Hurley (Castlehaven) 2-8, Alan O’Hare (Douglas) 1-11, Conor Russell (Douglas) 0-14.