Ballincollig 2-5 Éire Óg 0-8
BALLINCOLLIG edged out neighbours Éire Óg in a highly-entertaining Macroom Motors U21 A football final at Cloughduv.
The winners scored goals either side of the break from Evan Cooke and Harry Aherne which ultimately proved crucial. But this game went all the way down the home straight with a brilliant individual point from Darragh Dorgan and a placed effort from Stephen Wills putting daylight between the sides in injury time.
The opening exchanges were scrappy with a couple of wides from both sides early on. Ballincollig opening their account with a superb free from Dorgan, who represented Cork at U20 level last summer. Éire Óg responded in great style with a superb long-range point from Brian Thompson who went on a surging run from his own defence.
Ballincollig’s Evan Cooke, also part of the Cork U20 team that took the spoils in Munster, and had an excellent opening quarter. He linked very well with Dylan Ebili who looked certain to find the net but a brilliant save from Éire Óg’s goalkeeper Jack Forde denied the Ballincollig full-forward.
Immediately, Éire Óg responded with two magnificent points inside a minute from Sam O’Driscoll and the impressive Jack Sheehan.
Ballincollig’s defence was strong throughout and an excellent dispossession from Harry Aherne put Cooke through and he made no mistake with a thundering shot to the roof of the net. Éire Óg replied with a great score from Darragh Coakley to edge the Ovens men ahead by a single point, 0-6 to 1-2 at the break.
On the resumption, Éire Óg’s netminder Jack Forde denied Mark Oldham a goal with another top-class save. Moments later a great run from Cooke put Aherne through and he smashed to the net with a powerful shot.
There was a real intensity to the second half and both sides gave it everything. Again, Éire Óg responded to the concession of a goal with a monster point from Colm Quigley to leave the minimum between the sides after 40 minutes.
Ballinollig’s substitute Brian Moore made a positive impact and landed an excellent point for good measure. Yet their rivals reduced the gap again through a converted free from Sam O’Driscoll.
Just as the game looked to be heading for a replay Darragh Dorgan landed a classy point from out on the sideline before Wills added another to guarantee silverware.
It was great to see the crowds back and a local derby between these two sides was always going to provide plenty of drama. Of course, there is no county championship at this grade going forward as a new U19 competition will replace it.
Nevertheless, the Ballincollig manager John Oldham was pleased with the win.
“It’s great to get over the line in any championship and at this grade, it’s very important for the players to keep involved. Both teams were missing a few lads who are involved with Cork, but we just got on with it.
"This was a real battle tonight and there was only a single point in it approaching the final minute. Éire Óg have been winning all these tight games in recent times so it was nice to edge this one.
"Everyone knows that the County Board are now going to concentrate on U17 and U19 competitions. The Muskerry Board decided to run this competition and the crowd here tonight shows there is great interest in the local rivalries always.
"A big thanks to the Cloughduv club for hosting the final."
E Cooke, H Aherne 1-0 each, D Dorgan 0-3 (0-2 f) S Wills (f), B Moore 0-1 each.
S O’Driscoll 0-3 (0-2 f) J Sheehan 0-2, B Thompson, D Coakley, C Quigley 0-1 each.
C Walsh; R O’Neill, S Buckley, S O'Donoghue; H Aherne, J O’Connor, D Horgan; S Dore, E Cooke; M O’Keeffe, M Oldham, C O’Leary; D Dorgan, D Ebili, S Wills.
C Sheehan for M O’Keeffe (h-t), B Moore for D Ebili (40).
J Forde; C Eagles, K Cooper, A McCarthy; B Thompson, C McGoldrick, D Coakley; J Cooper, M Kelleher; D Casey, S O’Driscoll, J Sheehan, K McCarthy, G Moynihan, O O’Shea.
C Quigley for K McCarthy (h-t), S Lordan for C McGoldrick (40), J Kelleher for K Cooper (50).
J Ryan (Macroom)