Knocknagree had to hold off a late Gabriel Rangers fightback to secure the Cork county IFC title at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening.
When Anthony O’Connor struck for a goal for the Duhallow side in the 52nd minute, they led their West Cork opponents by 2-10 to 0-7, but they wouldn’t score again and Gabriels refused to yield. After points from Chris Moynihan and Seán Kelleher, they cut the gap to four points, Eddie Goggin scored a fine goal and two Kelleher frees left two in it with the game deep in injury time.
However, they couldn’t fashion a chance of a winning score and Knocknagree held out for the win. For that, they will be very thankful to goalkeeper Patrick Doyle, who saved a penalty in each half.
After a slow start in which they trailed by 0-4 to 0-2, Knocknagree had moved 0-5 to 0-4 ahead by the 25th minute, when Gabriels corner-forward Jordy O’Brien was fouled in the large rectangle.
Mark Cronin stepped up for the West Cork side but Doyle – one of six Knockngaree starters to have featured in Duhallow’s SFC final loss to Nemo Rangers last week – dived low to his left to keep the ball out. An Anthony O’Connor free extended Knocknagree’s advantage and then, in injury time, Fintan O’Connor set up Cork star Eoghan McSweeney for a goal.
Another Anthony O’Connor free ensured a 1-7 to 0-4 half-time advantage, but Gabriels’ Chris Moynihan had the first point of the second half and the Ballydehob/Schull side won another penalty when Eddie Goggin was fouled as he attempted a goal effort. Doyle had kept that out and he repeated the trick from Goggin’s penalty, diving to his right this time.
John F Daly, McSweeney and Anthony O’Connor extended the lead, interrupted only by a fine Jordy O’Brien effort from a tight angle for Gabriels.
Fintan O’Connor might have made the game safe on the three-quarter mark – his effort saved by Darren O’Mahony – but Knocknagree didn’t have too long to wait for a second goal, Anthony O’Connor conjuring it in the 52nd minute after he worked his way in from the left.
That looked to be that, but Gabriels ensured that it was a nervy finish.
Scorers for Knocknagree: A O’Connor 1-6 (0-5 frees), E McSweeney 1-3, JF Daly 0-1.
Scorers for Gabriel Rangers: S Kelleher 0-6 (0-3 frees, 0-1 45), E Goggin 1-2 (0-1 free), C Moynihan 0-2, J O’Brien 0-1.
KNOCKNAGREE: P Doyle; D O’Mahony, M Doyle, G O’Connor; D Cooper, K Buckley, M Mahoney; P Collins, D Moynihan; M Dilworth, E McSweeney, F O’Connor; D O’Connor, JF Daly, A O’Connor. Subs: J Dennehy for D O’Connor (33), D O’Connor for Moynihan (52), G Looney for Dilworth (58).
GABRIEL RANGERS: D O’Mahony; L Hegarty, D Roycroft, K O’Callaghan; D McSweeney, G O’Callaghan, R Moynihan; S Walden, S Kelleher; C Moynihan, P Nolan, F Hurley; M Cronin, E Goggin, J O’Brien. Subs: K Roycroft for Nolan (37), J Donegan for D Roycroft (48), R Hurley for F Hurley (49).
Referee: C Dineen (Douglas).