Luke Fahy and Ballincollig take on Nemo with real momentum

Despite having begun their campaign with a loss and then a draw, Ballincollig have reached the semi-finals, where they will face Nemo Rangers
Luke Fahy and Ballincollig take on Nemo with real momentum

Ballincollig's Luke Fahy (right) with Bons Secours Hospital Cork Premier SFC semi-final opponent Micheál Aodh Martin of Nemo Rangers and Harry Canning, CEO Bons Secours Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan

LUKE Fahy was still just a minor when he made his debut with the Ballincollig senior side in 2016.

In that season, they beat Nemo Rangers in the Cork SFC semi-finals for the second time in three years but unfortunately for them, in the final Carbery Rangers reversed the outcome of the 2014 decider, when Ballincollig had finally claimed the Andy Scannell Cup.

The years since have seen the Muskerry side struggled to make it back to the last four, losing quarter-finals in 2017, 2019 and 2020. However, a victory over Carbery a fortnight ago has set up a semi-final meeting with Nemo Rangers tomorrow in Páirc Ui Chaoimh (2pm) and Fahy is glad to be reliving his breakthrough year.

“It was a dream, the year I got, coming straight in,” he says.

“I was lucky that we had a great panel then and there are still a good few of them knocking around, which is a good thing.

“Still, it’s the last time we got to the county final, and the last time before this year that we got to the semi-final.

It has been frustrating, because we don’t feel we’ve reached our potential.

“Two years ago, we got out of the group but we lost to Nemo in the quarter-finals, then last year we finished third and didn’t make the knockout stages. We’ve left ourselves short, which is disappointing.

“We’re here now and we’ll try to make the most of it, hopefully.”

Helping them in that mission is their manager, club legend Podsie O’Mahony, for whom Fahy has high praise.

“Absolutely,” he says, “what he has done for Ballincollig over the years has been unbelievable.

“We were looking back at the articles on Twitter the other day – ‘Podsie O’Mahony, eight points from play!’ – and these things, he was such a great player for the club.

“He’s massive to the team and we’re all very thankful for the work that he and the lads are putting in. It’s great to have him involved.”

Ballincollig have improved with each match this year. Having lost their opening group match to Mallow, they were then denied victory over Douglas by a last-gasp equaliser. It left qualification looking like a slim prospect before the last outing against Valley Rovers but they came good with a second-half goal flurry.

“To be honest, it probably opened our eyes a small bit to things,” he says.

“There was obviously frustration around losing to Mallow, but we got to grips with things. 

We had a few honest truths between ourselves and we kicked on.

“Against Douglas, we were in control of the game and they got a massive free at the end, fair play to them.

“We did what we had to do against Valley Rovers and thankfully came out the other side.”

Ballincollig's Luke Fahy is tackled by Douglas' Daragh Kelly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ballincollig's Luke Fahy is tackled by Douglas' Daragh Kelly. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

There was a chance that even a win against Valleys wouldn’t have sufficed, if Douglas had recorded a big win over Mallow to take the second qualifying spot behind the North Cork side on scoring difference.

While Douglas started like a train, Mallow – despite being assured of topping the group no matter what – refused to give in and in the end there was only a point between them. That meant that Ballincollig’s 4-14 to 2-10 triumph in Kilmurry was enough to finish six better than Douglas in the final table.

“There’s a lot of resilience in this team and I think that that was evident against Valley Rovers,” Fahy says.

“We didn’t know the score in the Douglas game, we didn’t know what was going on. We just kept pugging away to our gameplan, we got the scores that we needed and thankfully we got through.”

Carbery were then seen off on a scoreline of 4-11 to 1-15, with Cian Dorgan scoring 2-4 while Darren Murphy notched 2-3. Another big test awaits but Fahy is relishing it.

“Nemo are the team to beat nearly every year going into the championship,” he says.

“This is where you want to be, these are the teams you want to be playing against.

“It’s the business end of the season, as they say, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

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