O’Leary, just a week after the All-Ireland final, played a pivotal role for Cill na Martra at centre-back. He took some hard knocks and appeared to be carrying a leg injury before the collision that resulted in him being helped off the field.
At that point his side had the game more or less won, but Ballyclough, who dominated the first-half when they enjoyed the advantage of a fresh if not strong wind, launched a succession of late onslaughts that resulted in a couple of thrilling do or die clearances from Cathal MacSuibhne and full-back Colm O’Leary, one of the three O’Leary brothers on the Cill na Martra team.
It was when the full-time whistle was blown that experienced Newcestown referee Eamonn Sheehy, one of the umpires on duty, drew the attention of James Dorgan to an incident among players coming off the pitch and the Nemo Rangers referee had no hesitation in issuing red cards to Gerdy Deedy of Ballyclough and Colm O’Leary of Cill na Martra.
The incident was out of context as the game, although fiercely contested at times, was fairly fought in a sporting fashion.
Ballyclough, who did not have a competitive game since April 12 when they beat Kinsale, were understrength as a result of a number of injuries. Regular centre-back John Aherne was one of five players watching the game from the side-line and they suffered another major blow when Peter Carroll, had to leave the game with a leg injury just after half time.
At that point Cill na Martra had battled their way into the game after Ballyclough’s flying start that had them six points up without reply. Colm O’Neill took four of those points — two from frees — while Paul O’Flynn scored the other two.
Noel O’Leary set Cormac Ó Mocháin up for Cill na Martra’s first point in the 23rd minute and two more from Sean Ó Céilleachair and Padraig Ó hAudhu (free) cut the arrears to three points before half time.
And they were on level terms at 0-6 apiece eight minutes into the second-half before Caoimhin Ó Suilleabháin gave them the lead for the first time a minute later. Two brilliantly executed long range points from Colm O’Neill had the sides level at 0-8 each going into the final quarter but Cill na Martra, with the wind on their backs, pulled clear again with points from Sean Ó Céilleachair, Donal Óg O’Leary and Sean Ó Loinsigh.
Scorers for Cill na Martra: P Ó hAudhu 0-3 (frees), S. Ceilleachair and S. Ó Loingsigh 0-2 each, C. Ó Mochain, D. Óg Ó Leary, M. Ó Conchuir and C. Ó Sulleabhain 0-1 each.
Ballyclough: C. O’Neill 0-6 (0-2 frees), P. O’Flynn 0-2 (frees).
P. Ó Connchuir; C. MacSuibhne, C. Ó Laoire, G. de hIde; B. Ó Loingsigh, N. Ó Laoire, G. O Duinnin; C. Ó Mochain, S. Ó Ceilleachair; D. Ó Buachalla, P. Ó hAodhu, D. Óg Ó Laoire; S. Ó Loingsigh, M. Ó Conchuir, C. O Sulleabhain.
Subs: M. Ó Goilli for D ÓBuachalla (45 mins), D. Ó Buachalla for N. O’Leary (58 mins).
M. Kennedy; T. McAuliffe, D. McAuliffe, D. Herlihy; S. Collins, P. Carroll, B. O’Leary; J. O’Shea, M. Linehan; T. O’Shea, P. O’Flynn, S. Smyth; G. Deady, C. O’Neill, T. O’Neill.
Subs: S. Walsh for P. Carroll (36 mins); T. O’Connor for T. O’Shea (52 mins); D. Falvey for S. Collins (55 mins).
J Dorgan (Nemos Rangers).