At the end of normal time, Muskerry looked all set to triumph when they led by two points after coming with a late surge. But three points on the trot in added time from Seán Collins, Diarmuid O’Sullivan, who converted a free, and substitute John O’Connor, turned the tide dramatically in Imokilly’s favour.
To say that Muskerry were stunned by this sensational reversal of fortune would be an understatement. They were shellshocked at losing a match they always seemed capable of winning. But fair play to Imokilly who scored two second-half goals within the space of a minute and never gave up the fight when the odds appeared stacked against them.
Muskerry started as if they were intent on beating their divisional rivals out of sight. With Noel Twomey sparkling at top of the left, the mid-Cork representatives scorched into a six-points lead after the opening quarter, with ‘Scobie’ scoring the first three.
However, Imokilly gradually came to grips with their game and their challenge was ignited by a goal from Sars hurler Pat Ryan in the 16th minute.
Displaying much greater urgency after this much-needed life-line was thrown to them, Imokilly trailed by 0-9 to 1-3 at the interval and were in with every chance of success.
Although dual player Diarmuid O’Sullivan made his presence tellingly felt with three points after the resumption, Muskerry held their composure and picking off their points with aplomb, led by four, entering the closing quarter.
Then the cat was really thrown among the pigeons. First, O’Sullivan set up his senior hurling colleague Joe Deane for a peach of a goal. Then a short free from Deane was gathered by substitute John O’Connor and he made no mistake with a blistering drive to propel Imokilly into the lead for the first time.
Now it was all to play for. Two points in rapid succession from Larry Concannon and Shane Prenderville got Muskerry back to level terms in the 50th minute.
But with the fire really sizzling in the pan, a resolute Muskerry side pulled out all the stops when the need was greatest and two points from Noel Twomey, who kicked over from a free, and Prenderville, appeared to copperfasten victory for Muskerry.
But in fairytale fashion, Imokilly came back from the dead to fashion a marvellous victory.
Scorers for Imokilly: J. O’Connor, P. Ryan, J. Deane 1-1 each; D. O’Sullivan 0-5 (0-2 from frees), S. Collins 0-1.
Muskerry: N. Twomey 0-7 (0-3 from frees), S. Prenderville 0-4, J. White 0-2, A. O’Shea, P. Concannon, L. Concannon, E. Dorgan 0-1 each.
IMOKILLY: M.J. Cremin (Castlemartyr); E. O’Sullivan (Cloyne), B. Fitzgerald (Castlelyons), N. Furlong (Carrigtwohill), G. Holland (Fr. O’Neill’s), D. Óg Cusack (Cloyne), A. Bowes (Castlemartyr), B. O’Callaghan (Sarsfields), K. Murphy (Erin’s Own), S. Farrell (Carrigtwohill), J. Flavin (Fr. O’Neill’s), V. Sullivan (Ballinacurra), J. Deane (Killeagh), D. O’Sullivan (Cloyne), P. Ryan (Sarsfields). Subs: J. O’Connor (Killeagh) for O’Callaghan, K. Murphy (Erin’s Own) for Furlong, B. Sigerson (Ballinacurra) for Bowes, S. Collins (Carrigtwohill) for Farrell.
MUSKERRY: J. O’Connell (Macroom); C. McSweeney (Kilnamartyra), J. Hounihan (Donoughmore), C. O’Leary (Kilnamartyra), S. Twomey (Ballingeary), N. O’Leary (Kilnamartyra), M. Corkery (Aghinagh), P. Concannon (Ballingeary), L. Concannon (Ballingeary), J. White (Kilmurry), A. O’Shea (Macroom), J. Gould (Macroom), I. Dorgan (Grenagh), S. Prenderville (Kilmichael), N. Twomey (Macroom). Subs: O. Murphy (Macroom) for O’Shea, B. Corkery (Éire Óg) for Hounihan, G. O’Halloran (Ballinora) for Gould.
Referee: D. Lenihan.