DOUGLAS inflicted a first defeat on Mallow but bowed out of the Bon Secours PSFC following a bizarre encounter at gusty Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday.
They will kick themselves for blowing an 11-point lead entering the final quarter when Group B winners Mallow staged a storming comeback only to just fall short.
Douglas finished level on points with Ballincollig but lost out on scoring difference after their head-to-head ended in a draw.
It all seemed to be going the city side’s way when defender Daniel Harte drove up field to take a pass from centre-back Sean Wilson and finish clinically for a 2-10 to 1-2 lead after 45 minutes.
Mallow hadn’t scored for 32 minutes until captain Ryan Harkin landed their first point from play in the 49th minute.
Sean McDonnell added a second moments later and then Darragh Moynihan poked home his second goal three minutes from the end of normal time.
Suddenly the complexion of the game and the group started to change dramatically with six additional minutes to come.
The Avondhu side emptied their bench and took great heart from Moynihan’s intervention, Harte’s black card not helping his side’s prospects.
Five more points flowed from Mallow’s onslaughts and while they were also reduced to 14 following Bill Myers’s black card, a mighty fightback looked on the cards.
A Harkin free reduced the deficit to the minimum with a minute of stoppage time left, but in a rare Douglas attack, Alan O’Hare shoved his side two points clear only for Mallow substitute James Loughrey to cancel it out.
The final whistle sounded shortly after that leaving Mallow wondering about their display for three-quarters of the game and Douglas equally puzzled about their damaging collapse.
In the first half both sides struggled to come to terms with the treacherous conditions and Mallow’s 0-2 to 0-1 lead after the opening quarter reflected the degree of difficulty.
Indeed, the slippery state of the pitch was a factor in the first-minute injury sustained by Douglas forward James Holland, who slipped on kicking the ball and resulting in him being carried off the pitch.
The game finally came alive after 16 minutes, when Mallow pounced for a goal, midfielder Eoin Stanton’s long ball dropping in the no man’s land in front of the Douglas posts.
His centrefield partner Moynihan was rewarded for his gamble in darting forward and beating the advancing keeper Brian Boyle to the punch for an opportunist goal.
But, Mallow didn’t add to their tally in the remainder of the half, however, as Douglas took over, scoring 1-6 without response.
The goal came in the 22nd minute when Mallow centre-back Shane Merritt was dispossessed by a posse of tacklers after receiving a short kick-out.
The ball broke for Cotter, who spotted Dara Kelly in space and his stinging shot flew beyond Kevin Doyle, who got his fingers to the ball but couldn’t keep it out.
Mallow’s ill-discipline yielded a flurry of kickable frees, which Andrew Cotter converted to leave Douglas in a promising position, 1-7 to 1-2 in front on the change of ends.
And they were in command of their own destiny only for Mallow to spring to life in a dramatic closing quarter.
A Cotter 0-8 (0-7 f, 0-1 45), D Kelly 1-1, D Harte 1-0, B Hartnett, A O’Hare 0-1 each.
D Moynihan 2-0, S McDonnell 0-3 (0-1 f), R Harkin 0-3 (0-2 f), J Browne 0-2 f, P Herlihy, J Loughrey 0-1 each.
B Boyle; K Hayes-Curtin, N Walsh, B Lynch; D Harte, S Wilson, S Powter; N Hartnett, J Harte; D Kelly, A O’Hare, K Shanahan; J Holland, B Hartnett, A Cotter.
T Sheehy for Holland (injured 1), A Cantwell for Kelly (40), A O’Connell for J Harte (50).
K Doyle; P Lyons, S O’Callaghan, E Crone; S Copps, S Merritt, M Taylor; D Moynihan, E Stanton; K O’Sullivan, J Dillon, P Herlihy; J Browne, R Harkin, captain, S McDonnell.
B Myers for O’Sullivan, J Loughrey for Dillon and S Hayes for Crone (36), P Hennessy for Browne (46), E Barry for Stanton (55).
D Murnane (Macroom).