Victory went St. Finbarr’s way following a penalty goal by Ronan Curran in the 46th minute. But, credit to Blackrock for making a handsome contribution to a sizzler that kept the 3,621 spectators highly entertained.
A classic goal by right corner forward Robert O’Mahony after just two minutes set the scene for a frenetic struggle with the Barr’s making the early running and Blackrock subsequently coming thundering back.
It was all the Blues for a while, following O’Mahony’s strike and when they went 1-5 to 0-2 in front after 11minutes, it looked as though Blackrock were in for a torrid time.
Full-forward Ger McCarthy, making his senior championship debut, and corner forwards O’Mahony and Kevin Murray were posing all sorts of problems for the Blackrock defence and it wasn’t until Wayne Sherlock was moved to full-back that the winds of change gradually began to blow.
After their initial 11-minutes of splendour, the Barr’s managed to score just one more point in the first-half - from Michael Ryan in the 21st minute. This was a striking testimony to the manner in which Blackrock managed to turn proceedings around.
Blackrock were unlucky not to have snatched a goal at the end of the first quarter when Barr’s goalkeeper Fergal O’Mahony denied Brian O’Keeffe with a brilliant ground save. But, with Sherlock, wing back Paul Tierney, midfielder Coughlan, and forwards Barry Hennebry, Brian O’Keeffe and Alan Browne, when moved to wing forward, all upping their games Blackrock came roaring back.
A goal from Derek Gosnell in the 29th minute, after he flicked home a fine David Cashman high lobbing ball, was the highlight of the Rockies brave fight-back which saw them levelling the game at 1-6 apiece on the stroke of half time with a superb equalising point from the elusive Hennebrey.
Although the outstanding Ronan Curran pointed an 80 metre free to edge the Blues back into the lead five minutes after the resumption, a rejuvenated Blackrock continued to dominate and four unanswered points from Gearoid Cleary, Alan Browne, David Cashman and Adrian Coughlan swept them to the front for the first time with 20 minutes remaining.
Now it was the turn of St. Finbarr’s to soak up the pressure and fight for their lives. And they did so with Curran, midfielder Rory McCarthy and excellent substitute Cathal McCarthy hitting some great points.
Just a point separated the sides entering the closing quarter with Blackrock grimly hanging on. Then came the turning point, Robert O’Mahony was fouled and from the resultant penalty Ronan Curran made no mistake. Kevin Murray quickly added a point and suddenly the Blues had the cushion of a goal lead.
In a nail-biting finale Blackrock tried valiantly to rescue the game but inaccurate shooting cost them dearly. Super sub Cathal McCarthy sealed the Barr’s win with two fabulous match-clinching points.
: St. Finbarr’s: R. Curran 1-3 (1-0 pen; 0-2 from frees; 0-1 from 65); R. O’Mahony 1-0; K. Murray 0-5 (0-3 frees); R. McCarthy 0-2; C. McCarthy 0-2; G. McCarthy and M. Ryan 0-1 each. Blackrock: D. Gosnell 1-1; A. Browne 0-4 (0-2 from frees); A. Coughlan 0-3 (0-2 from frees; 0-1 from 65); B. Hennebry 0-2; G. Cleary, D. Cashman and B. O’Keeffe 0-1 each.
: F. O’Mahony; P. McSweeney, E. Burke, P. Buckley; A. O’Dwyer, R. Curran, B. O’Driscoll; R. McCarthy, A. Cronin; M. Ryan, A. Fitzpatrick, D. O’Regan; R. O’Mahony, G. McCarthy, K. Murray. Subs: C. Duffy for Cronin; P. Murray for O’Dwyer; C. McCarthy for O’Regan; T. Olden for G. McCarthy.
: F. Barry; W. Sherlock, J. Browne, S. Murphy; C. Connery, C. Murphy, P. Tierney; A. Coughlan, T. J. Coughlan; B. O’Keeffe, D. Gosnell, D. Cashman; B. Hennebry, A. Browne, G. Cleary. Subs. A. Ryan for T. J. Coughlan; M. Russell for Connery (leg injury).
: K. Healy (Ballymartle).