Full marks to both sides for a splendid show, but, in the end, it was experienced Ilen who called the tune thanks mainly to a rewarding second quarter display.
Showing character and determination in abundance, Ilen matched Douglas’s closing quarter fire with steely determination and had a destroyer in the sure-footed Kevin O’Sullivan, who broke the city side’s hearts with some priceless points.
Ilen selector Flor O’Driscoll was pleased afterwards, though not exactly over the moon, still riled by the Nemo defeat in their opening match.
“This for me was redemption, I’m thrilled and relieved. But our performance tonight was only okay, I know we can do better. After fading so badly against Nemo the lads wanted to redeem themselves and I think the character they showed when under pressure in the dying stages more than showed that. We’re delighted, but I know there’s more in us.”
Perhaps, certainly though Douglas were well up for the fight and pushed them hard, but they were far too naive and lacked a guiding light to deliver the big punch.
A tremendous start to the contest, four superb points (two apiece) inside the opening five minutes — Kevin O’Sullivan and Ed Sheehy for Ilen, Mark Harrington and Barry Fitzgerald replying for Douglas.
The omens were there for a good one and with Eoin Cadogan quickly thundering into the game and Fitzgerald lively up front, Douglas opened with intent. Yet they still trailed 0-4 to 0-3 after the opening quarter, points from Sean Casey and Brian O’Sullivan giving Ilen that early advantage.
But the West Cork side grew more and more in ascendancy as the game wore on. The roving John Wycherley, booked early on and later lucky to stay on, began to trouble the Douglas rearguard and with wing back John Sheehy also superb Ilen began to create chances.
Casey set up Ed Sheehy with a peach of a pass in the 19th minute, but his rasping shot cannoned back off the crossbar with goalkeeper Brian Boyle beaten. And, had Kevin O’Sullivan been a bit steadier, Ilen might have had a handsome lead. But, thanks mainly to the sweet free-taking of Shane McCarthy, Douglas kept breathing down Ilen’s neck until a couple of late points from Kevin O’Sullivan and one apiece from John (a superb effort that deserved a goal) and Ed Sheehy put some daylight between the sides with Ilen leading 0-9 to 0-5 at the break.
Douglas needed to curb the fast breaking Ilen wing backs in the second-half and, to a certain degree, they did, the winners only scoring four more points and having to show some dogged determination to keep Douglas at bay. Cormac Dineen, left out of the Douglas starting side, came in at midfield with Gary McLoughlin moving to full-forward and certainly Dineen looked the part against the wily Fachtna Collins.
Douglas, however, were lucky again immediately after the restart when Kevin O’Sullivan put John Sheehy clear only for his shot to whistle past the upright. Douglas did have their chances to reduce the deficit, but instead Brian O’Sullivan doubled Ilen’s lead in the 40th minute and the omens looked bad for Douglas now.
To their credit, Douglas kept their heads high and points from Harrington, who took over the free taking duties, and Fitzgerald left just three between them entering the final quarter, 0-10 to 0-7.
That lead was down to a point by the 47th minute after Harrington and Dineen had found the target. But they failed to get the equaliser, some stern defending and the level head and accuracy of Kevin O’Sullivan ensuring Roves were going to be meeting CIT in the next round.
Ilen Rovers: K.O’Sullivan 0-6 (0-3 frees), E. Sheehy, B. O’Sullivan 0-2 each, S. Casey, J. Wycherley, J. Sheehy 0-1 each. Douglas: M. Harrington 0-4 (0-3 frees), S. McCarthy 0-3 (frees), B. Fitzgerald 0-2, C. Dineen, F. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
G. Coakley; D. Murphy, D. Duggan, S .Holland; C. O’Driscoll, L. O’Driscoll, J. Sheehy; D. Coughlan, F. Collins; D. Whooley, J. Wycherley, E. Sheehy; S. Casey, K. O’Sullivan, B. O’Sullivan.
P. Connolly for C. O’Driscoll (23), F. O’Donovan for Holland (32), B. Duggan for Whooley (60).
B. Boyle; J. Lane, R. Keating, D. McSweeney; N. Heffernan, E. Cadogan, P. Carroll; G. McLoughlin, A. Barry; B. Fitzgerald, T. Sheehan, J. Farrell; F. O’Sullivan, M. Harrington, B. McCarthy.
F. Tobin for Lane (23m), C. Dineen for Farrell (ht), Farrell for Sheehan (33), W. Coveney for Barry (45), C. McCarthy for Heffernan (57).
J. Geaney (Kilshannig).