THE dream final in the Bon Secours county PSFC remains on track for a city showdown between the holders St Finbarr’s and roll-of-honour leaders Nemo Rangers.
After a mixture of the routine and sensational on the last day of the group games on Sunday, the ’Barr’s finished top seeds and their great rivals number two.
Both finished with 100% records from their three games, but the defending champions enjoyed a far greater scoring difference of +29 to Nemo’s +12.
It means the Barrs bagged that coveted lone semi-final spot and affords their dual players an important weekend off in between the quarter-finals.
They await the outcome of the Castlehaven-Mallow quarter-final for what could be another installment in the penalty shoot-out drama with the west Cork side.
The Barrs registered a 2-13 to 0-10 victory over already qualified Carbery Rangers, when they could afford to withdraw dual players, Billy Hennessy, Jamie Burns, Brian Hayes and Ethan Twomey in the closing quarter.
Steven Sherlock marked his first start following a knee injury by scoring 0-6 and Cillian Myers-Murray brought his championship total to 1-19 with 1-4 while Twomey added 1-2 for 2-8 overall.
Nemo dogged it out with last season’s beaten finalists Clonakilty before prevailing by 0-8 to 0-7 for a quarter-final slot with Rosscarbery at headquarters on Saturday week at 5pm.
The Trabeg club didn’t have Stephen Cronin following his injury in the previous outing against the Haven.
Cork defender Kevin O’Donovan diverted to number six with Mark Hill starting in the corner.
The Haven’s 3-12 to 1-9 victory over Newcestown clinched runners-up spot in Group C behind Nemo.
It was an anticipated win given the recent history between the teams and Newcestown’s long injury list.
The Hurley brothers, Brian and Michael, and Rory Maguire claimed the goals with captain Mark Collins chipping in with 0-3, as did Cathal Maguire.
Interestingly, the Cahalane brothers, Damien, Conor and Jack, played the full part though Conor was replaced in injury time by namesake Darragh.
The three lads switch attentions to hurling for the Barrs against Douglas on Sunday before turning back to football again for the Mallow test a week later.
While those could all be considered expected returns the real drama and consternation happened in Group C, where just two points separated table toppers Mallow and bottom side Valley Rovers.
Sandwiched in between were Ballincollig and Douglas who had played out a thrilling draw n round 2.
In a remarkable chain of events, Ballincollig went from propping up the table before the throw-in against Valleys to runners-up, leapfrogging both the Innishannon club and Douglas.
The pair finished on three points apiece, but Ballincollig finished like an express train in their 10-point win over Valleys (4-14 to 2-10) while Douglas’s challenge crashed into the buffers despite pipping Mallow 2-11 to 2-10.
It was crazy stuff at times. Mallow went 32 minutes without adding to Darragh Moynihan’s goal after 16 minutes during which Douglas scored 2-9.
Then, Mallow emptied their bench and were gifted a soft second goal, again from Moynihan, three minutes from the end of regulation time with six more to come for stoppages.
Douglas still led by six points and yet they would still have been pipped had it stayed that way because Ballincollig scored more.
The city side needed to win by seven points to elbow the Village out of contention but were lucky to win by one.
Ballincollig’s rise was similar to that of Cloyne in hurling and Knocknagree in the SAFC, teams starting out in seemingly relegation difficulties, but ending up advancing to the knock-out stages.
There, they play Carbery at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday night week at 7pm.
Yet, the big story of Super Sunday was Carrigaline, again, sticking two fingers to those who say they shouldn’t be in the top tier.
Last season, they survived with a last kick goal from Callum Barrett to send Ilen Rovers down.
This time, they poked Éire Óg in the eye with Nathan O’Keeffe’s goal forcing the Ovens club to battle it out with Newcestown for survival.