The sides were level no fewer than eight occasions in a titanic duel before Imokilly saw off a game Muskerry side who were reduced to 14 men following the dismissal of centre-forward Ger Burke in the 52nd minute.
Things were not always rosy for Imokilly however. They hit 13 wides as they struggled to come to grips with their game in the first half and a much more economical Muskerry side, with wing forward John Hurley accurate from frees, made the early running despite losing full-back Pat O’Riordan and right corner back Barry Moylan in the first quarter through injury.
Undeterred, Muskerry took a four-point lead before Imokilly fought back to level with a fine goal from full-forward Pearse O’Neill two minutes into injury time. It was 1-4 to 0-7 at the break and the scene was set for an absorbing showpiece with a transformed Imokilly side finding their scoring touch and Muskerry battling bravely to stem the flow.
The switch of Niall McCarthy from centre-back to centre-forward worked for Imokilly, who could not miss, it seemed, after full-forward John O’Driscoll set up corner forward Tom O’Mahony for a peach of a Muskerry goal two minutes after the break.
A mere 60 seconds later it was back to square one when O’Neill got his second goal and sparked an incredible fight to the death with both sides scoring some delightful points.
Trevor O’Keeffe, with seven points, five from frees and two 65s, and Jason Barrett, who scored five from play, were most effective in the scoring stakes for Imokilly, while Hurley scored Muskerry’s second goal from a 25-metre free in the 37th minute.
It was nip and tuck all the way, never more than two points separating them. Muskerry’s cause was not helped when the linesman drew referee John Kearney’s attention to an off-the-ball incident and Burke was shown a red card.
Making most of the numerical advantage, Imokilly, with some great scores from Barrett, O’Keeffe and Niall McCarthy, scorched into a four-point lead and it looked as if the bubble had burst for Muskerry.
Battling against the odds, Muskerry threw the game back into the melting pot when goalkeeper Ronan Byrne struck a fierce drive from a 20-metre free to the back of the Imokilly net five minutes from time. But, responding to the challenge, Imokilly swooped to sew up things with Morrissey and Barrett’s strikes at the close.
: Imokilly: P. O’Neill 2-1, T. O’Keeffe 0-7 (0-5 frees, 0-2 65s); J. Barrett 0-5, N. McCarthy 0-2, E. O’Loughlin, S. O’Callaghan, B. Morrissey 0-1 each. Muskerry: J. Hurley 1-5 (1-5 frees), T. O’Mahony 1-1, R. Byrne 1-0 (1-0 free), J. O’Driscoll 0-2, J. Russell, M. McCarthy, G. Burke, K. Walsh 0-1 each.
: C. Coleman (Youghal); S. Flannery (Carrigtwohill), J. P. O’Connor (Aghada), N. Furlong (Carrigtwohill); S. O’Leary (Watergrasshill), N. McCarthy (Carrigtwohill), B. Coleman (Youghal); P. O’Regan (Watergrasshill), D. Ring (Youghal); S. O’Callaghan (Watergrasshill), J. Barrett (Carrigtwohill), E. O’Loughlin (St. Ita’s); G. O’Leary (Fr. O’Neill’s), P. O’Neill (Aghada), T. O’Keeffe (Aghada).
: L. Greaney (Cobh) for Flannery; B. Morrissey (Aghada) for O’Leary.
: R. Byrne (Blarney); B. Moylan (Ballincollig), P. O’Riordan (Dripsey), D. Cronin (Blarney); J. Hughes (Blarney), J. Olden (Inniscarra), N. Buckley (Aghabullogue); J. Russell (Grenagh), M. McCarthy (Blarney); M. O’Sullivan (Dripsey), G. Burke (Inniscarra), J. Hurley (Blarney); T. O’Mahony (Cloughduv), J. O’Driscoll (Ballincollig), K. Walsh (Cloughduv).
: E. O’Sullivan (Ballincollig) for P. O’Riordan (injured); B. Corkery (Éire Óg) for Moylan (injured).
: J. Kearney (Na Piarsaigh).