While it was essentially a team effort, Rossas had excellent players in Conor McCarthy, Florrrie Crowley, Sean Carmody, Noel Kearney and Paddy Nealon.
Ballincollig went into the game off the back of some impressive league results and were highly fancied, but the Skibbereen side rose to the challenge and deservedly took the honours to cause one of the shocks of the first round.
Rossas won the toss and played with the driving wind and rain in the opening half. Given the strength of the elements, they needed a sizeable half-time lead, but they found it difficult to make any headway against a very strong Ballincollig defence, where Stephen O’Donoghue and Michael O’Brien were very solid.
Brian Dwyer gave the West Cork side the lead after three minutes but Ballincollig’s excellent short passing game had them level by the sixth minute.
Scores were at a premium as both defences were excellent but the game took a dramatic turn for Rossas in the 16th minute after Conor McCarthy gave his side an 0-2 to 0-1 lead.
The Cork senior was hugely influential at midfield, ably assisted by Sean Carmody, and when he rose superbly to fist Brian Dwyer’s long free to the net, Rossas were in the driving seat.
The goal was a massive boost to the West Cork side and using the long ball to great effect, points by Dwyer and Noel Kearney gave them a two-goal lead after 20 minutes, and Ballincollig looked in trouble.
Without a score for 16 minutes, the Muskerry side showed character to claw their way back into the game with three excellent points in a row, and only a goal separated the sides coming up to half time.
Rossas were struggling to keep their noses in front but after going nine minutes without a score, Rob McCarthy landed a beauty to give his side a four-point cushion at half time, although it didn’t look like it would be enough.
The second half developed into a tremendous contest as Ballincollig, playing with the elements, wasted little time in cutting the deficit, with a Padraig O’Mahony point seconds after the resumption.
However youthful Rossas threw down the gauntlet to the favourites with three points in a row to lead 1-8 to 0-5 after 40 minutes, the best a superb individual effort by outstanding midfielder Sean Carmody.
Ballincollig were rattled and their cause wasn’t helped by the loss of Liam O’Toole for two yellow cards, but they displayed resilience to reduce the lead to three points with seven minutes to go. John Miskella and Padraig O’Mahony were driving forward at every opportunity and Rossas were under siege.
Rossas numerical advantage was critical however and in a great passing movement from their own defence, Conor McCarthy kicked a vital point to ease the pressure. While O’Mahony did likewise from a 45 for Ballincollig, Rossas held firm for a thrilling victory.
It’s senior football for Skibb again in 2009, while Ballincollig face a second round game against the losers of the Ilen Rovers/St Nicks game and must win to avoid the drop.
Scorers — Rossas: C. McCarthy 1-3 (0-2 frees); B. Dwyer 0-3 (0-2 frees); N. Kearney, R. McCarthy, S. Carmody 0-1 each.
Ballinmcollig: P. O’Mahony 0-4 (0-2 frees, 0-1 45); J.Kelly 0-2 (frees); L. O’Toole, B. Cotter, S. O’Donoghue 0-1 each.
J. McCarthy; K. Cotter, N. McCarthy, C. Long; S. Crowley, A. Tanner, F. Crowley; S. Carmody, C. McCarthy; P. Nealon, R. Long, N. Kearney; B. Dwyer, C. Crowley, R. McCarthy.
Subs: D. O’Donovan for Tanner; J. Keohane for N. McCarthy.
D. Lordan; N. Barry, E. Hegarty, N. Galvin; S. O’Donoghue, M. O’Brien, E. Burke; L. O’Toole, P. Corcoran; B. Allen, B. Cotter, P. Kelly; J. Miskella, J. Kelly, P. O’Mahony.
Subs: A. O’Donovan for Cotter; S. Keohane for Corcoran.
Referee: J. Dorgan (Nemo Rangers).