Knocknagree 1-17 Clyda Rovers 1-15
KNOCKNAGREE will meet St Michaels in the final of the Bon Secours Senior A Football Championship after they defeated Clyda Rovers in an enthralling clash at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night.
The experience and the class of Eoghan McSweeney from the bench proved to be the difference on the night as his two sublime points late on helped Knocknagree reach the showpiece occasion with a two-point victory.
By the end of the first quarter, these two sides were locked at 0-5 apiece and on four separate occasions they were level, Clyda Rovers were first to get on the scoreboard through Eoin Walsh in the opening minute but back came Knocknagree with a score from Niall O’Connor in the second minute.
Clyda again edged in front in the fourth minute with a Daniel O’Callaghan free but back came their opponent’s in the fifth minute with a Denis R O’Connor free.
Rovers again took the lead when Conor Corbett split the uprights in the sixth minute but back came their rivals when Niall O’Connor split the uprights in the seventh minute. End-to-end stuff.
The only difference between the teams at this juncture was that Knocknagree hit two wides and that proved costly as the men from Mourneabbey, who didn’t kick any, soon took advantage with a brace of unanswered points to end the previous sequence.
Eoin Walsh took responsibility for their next dead ball situation and he expertly put it over the blackspot before midfielder Kevin Graham claimed a superb point of his own.
But, as previously mentioned, by the 16th minute they would be level yet again as the men wearing White and Blue battled back and overs from Michael McSweeney, and captain Fintan O’Connor - leading by example - would make it 0-5 to 0-5.
Rovers would secure an advantage for the fifth time thanks to Conor Corbett and they would double that in the 20th minute through Conor Flanagan before a sensational long-range free kick from Daniel O’Callaghan gave them the biggest lead of the half, 0-8 to 0-5.
But they knew by now that Knocknagree weren’t going to fade away and although they would soon trade scores, two points without reply from Denis O’Connor and then Michael McSweeney would ensure only the minimum was between the clubs at the break, 0-9 to 0-8.
The 2020 Cork Premier Intermediate Champions carried that momentum into the second period and three unanswered points - Clyda hitting five wides to nil in that time - gave them the lead for the first time in the entire match, 0-11 to 0-9 in the 40th minute.
But by the 42nd minute, they were behind yet again as a clever pass from Darragh Buckley allowed the brilliant Kevin Graham to cleverly punch the ball into the roof of the net.
It seemed like that may be enough to finally swing this semi-final encounter in their favour but Knocknagree rallied and a thunderous finish from Fintan O’Connor into the roof of the net helped them regain momentum and retake the lead, 1-14 to 1-11 with nine minutes remaining.
Three answered points from Rovers looked to have then sent his match into extra time but once the clock ticked into injury time, Knocknagree upped the tempo.
And that is when Eoghan McSweeney came to the fore as his two nerveless points helped his club reach the showpiece occasion where they will face a stern test from St Michaels in two weeks time.
F O’Connor 1-5 (0-3 f, 0-1 mark), M Dilworth and N O’Connor 0-3 each, M McSweeney and E McSweeney 0-2 each, D R O’Connor 0-2 (0-1 free).
K Graham 1-2, C Corbett 0-3, E Walsh 0-3 (0-2 f), D O’Callaghan 0-2 (0-2 frees), C O’Sullivan, C Flanagan, K Coffey, C Buckley and J Buckley 0-1 each.
P Doyle; M Doyle, K Buckley, G O’Connor; D Cooper, D O’Mahony, M Mahoney; D Moynihan, M Dilworth, G Looney; D R O’Connor, M McSweeney, N O’Connor.
E McSweeney for D Moynihan (38), J Dennehy for M Dilworth (58), T O’Connor for M Doyle (58).
S Dennehy; A Walsh, C Kenny, D Buckley; C O’Sullivan, S Kelly, M Forde; D Walsh, K Graham; C Flanagan, C Corbett, D Cooney; P Kissane, D O’Callaghan, E Walsh.
N Hanley for D Cooney (41), C O’Reilly for D Buckley (47), J Buckley for C O’Sullivan (54), K Coffey for C Flanagan (54).
John Ryan (Macroom).