Ballincollig 1-10 Nemo Rangers 2-6
Match Report courtesy of Kevin Murphy (PRO)
BALLINCOLLIG showed all the maturity and courage of recent champions by stripping Nemo Rangers of their county senior football title in a thrilling climax to a slow-burner of a semi-final at Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday.
Not many teams recover from handing Nemo a six-point lead twice during the first-half of such an important fixture and still prevail, but the 2014 winners managed it. And Ballincollig also bounced back from falling behind again to Luke Connolly’s goal-of-the-season thunderbolt six minutes from the end which restored Nemo’s one-point advantage, only for their opponents to respond once more. Connolly’s ferocious drive high into the net would have broken most teams’ resistance, especially as Ballincollig had kicked three points of their own to edge in front for the first time at 1-8 to 1-6.
But, the champions of two years ago never veered off script and restored parity for only the third occasion with the second of substitute Kevin Browne’s points. Then, a minute from the end of regulation time, the wily old fox Pa Kelly won a free on the left and Cian Dorgan duly slotted the winning point.
Ballincollig played keep-ball to run down the clock in two minutes’ injury-time before savouring a repeat last-four win over the champions. After a tentative start the game had burst into life with a 10th minute Paul Kerrigan goal following a mix up in the Ballincollig defence, temporary substitute Brian Twomey sending the Cork star on his way before blasting home.
The restart didn’t go the required distance and Niblock won the resulting throw-in which led to a Barry O’Driscoll point and more errors at the back resulted in a couple of Connolly points for a 1-3 to 0-0 lead after 15 minutes. And it could have been worse because O’Driscoll appeared to be taken down in the penalty zone only for referee Conor Lane to award a free out for over-holding instead, Kerrigan receiving a yellow card for his protests.
Ballincolig eventually scored after 18 minutes via the direct route to Ian Coughlan, who off-loaded to Miskella to point, and they almost scored goal a minute later. Kelly’s close-range shot beat keeper Michael Aodh Martin but captain Ciaran O’Reilly swept the ball off the line back to Kelly, who passed to Coughlan.He duly fisted it to the net but was clearly inside the square and the holders escaped with a free-out.
Kerrigan and a super Alan O’Donovan point stretched Nemo’s lead to 1-5 to 0-2 after 24 minutes only for Ballincollig to finish with a flourish. O’Sullivan was central to creating the opportunity for Sean Kiely to plant an unstoppable shot to the top corner for a much-needed goal.
Dorgan converted a ’45 to cut the gap to two points entering injury-time, when George Durrant was unfortunate to see a goal-bound shot cannon off the outside of a post and away, 1-5 to 1-3 to Nemo at the break. Robert Noonan took just 35 seconds to cut the lead to the minimum on the resumption before Dorgan’s free tied matters at 1-5 apiece in the 39th minute. Michael Dorgan snatched the lead back for Nemo moments later and Alan O’Donovan’s strong run through the middle ended with a stinging shot flying narrowly wide.
Ballincollig hit a purple patch, points from a Coughlan free, Browne and O’Sullivan, which could have been a goal, edged them 1-8 to 1-6 ahead, with eight minutes remaining before the dramatic conclusion.Scorers for Ballincollig:
C Dorgan 0-4, 3f, 1’45, S Kiely 1-0, K Browne 0-2, C O’Sullivan, J Miskella, R Noonan 0-1 each, I Coughlan 0-1fScorers for Nemo Rangers:
L Connolly 1-2, 1’45, P Kerrigan 1-1, M Dorgan, B O’Driscoll, A O’Donovan 0-1 eachBALLINCOLLIG
: D Lordan; S Murphy, L Jennings, E Hegarty; S Lucey, N Galvin, C Kiely; S Kiely, C O’Sullivan, captain; R Noonan, P Kelly, G Durrant; C Dorgan, I Coughlan, J Miskella.
Subs: K Browne for Noonan 36, L Fahy for Lucey 52NEMO RANGERS
: MA Martin; A O’Reilly, captain, C O’Shea, A Cronin; S Cronin, T O Se, K Fulignati; D Niblock, A O’Donovan; M Dorgan, P Kerrigan, B O’Driscoll; L Connolly, C Horgan, J Horgan.
Subs: B Twomey for C Horgan 46, P Gumley for O’Donovan 48, S Martin for Dorgan 59
Referee: C Lane (Banteer)