THE celebrations from the Ballincollig camp following last Sunday’s Bons Secours Cork Premier SFC win over Valley Rovers said it all.
Ballincollig, who were bottom of Group B, needed to win. They did that by 10 points, 4-14 to 2-10, and despite third-placed Douglas beating leaders Mallow by a point, 2-11 to 2-10, qualified on scoring difference. They’ll meet divisional outfit Carbery in the quarter-finals.
Valley Rovers were dejected to bow out. They had only needed a draw to get through regardless of how the other game panned out in Páirc Uí Rinn.
The Innishannon side, despite a shaky opening quarter, led at half-time by two points and also led with 18 minutes remaining. The final quarter was dominated by Ballincollig, helped by three goals, two from Sean Kiely and one from sub Rob Noonan.
Ballincollig qualification had looked a long shot at the start of the day. The Village had been resilient in the last two games. After a flat performance against Mallow on the opening day, they showed character against Douglas in the second game. While they conceded a late free and drew, the performance showed what they can do.
They could have felt sorry for themselves after the Douglas game, and even on Sunday when Valleys scored two goals in two minutes in the first half, but they didn’t
Ballincollig manager Podsie O’Mahony was stunned. “Unbelievable, it hasn’t hit home yet. I am absolutely delighted. The second-half performance was sensational, really. It’s a performance the team deserved all year, to be honest.
We have been waiting for a performance like that and we certainly got it out there in the second half. This bunch of players deserve to qualify. The amount of work they have put in this season has been absolutely unbelievable.
“It was a disappointing start to the campaign, but our reaction since then has been brilliant.”
The second-half performance, against the wind pleased the former Cork footballer. “To play the way we did in that second half was incredible. To score what we did and especially keep Valley Rovers to only a few points was outstanding.”
Ballincollig started well, helped by a Darren Murphy goal, but despite playing with the strong wind, the winners were behind at the break, 2-6 to 1-7.
O’Mahony wasn’t overly concerned, though, heading into the dressing room at half time.
“Playing with a strong wind like we did in the first half, I suppose it does put the pressure on you to go in at half-time leading, but it wasn’t to be for us,” O’Mahony said.
“I wasn’t down or anything like that; we knew we had a big performance in us. A good football team can play against the wind and we showed that out there. Valley Rovers played well against the wind, too.”
Carbery, the divisional outfit, awaits the Muskerry side in the quarter-final. O’Mahony is relishing the challenge.
“I only found out two minutes ago. Looking forward to it.”