Considering that scores were level nine times before midfielder Jer Holland equalised for Fr O’Neills in injury time, it would have been a misfortune for one of them to go under.
The east Cork side in particular would have found it hard to accept, not merely because it marked their debut at this level of competition. And, they might very well have triumphed but for the impact made by Padraig Condon after he was brought in at full-forward for Newcestown 12 minutes after the resumption.
At that stage, they had fallen behind by three points, but the first time the ball came to him, he won a penalty, which he converted himself. He almost had the ball in the net soon after when a kicked effort was stopped by goalkeeper Paul Colbert.
Notably, while the game boasted some terrific striking on both sides, the excellence of Colbert (his handling especially) and Newcestown ‘keeper Jim O’Sullivan was another noteworthy feature.
O’Sullivan, who had in the past acquitted himself in a number of outfield positions, was called into action as early as the ninth minute, when he brought off a fine save from corner-forward Niall Griffin. And, just before that, Fr O’Neills full-forward John Flavin had a great chance of a goal at the other end but he blew his shot over the bar.
With both defences covering well and midfield honours shared, the main difference was that Newcestown created more scoring opportunities — and also wasted a lot of them (they had seven wides to one in the first half). Eoin Kelly was seen to good effect at full-forward and Cathrach Keane was particularly effective in the opening quarter at centre-forward.
Fr O’Neills’ early scoring burst produced three points, but the return could have been greater. The initiative swung back to Newcestown after Condon’s goal and after Jer O’Leary and Eoin Kelly swapped scores from frees, Newcestown lost two chances of scores before Flavin regained the lead for Fr O’Neills.
Soon afterwards they were trailing after substitute Donal Twomey equalised and Kelly put over a free which had been won by Condon. But, Fr O’Neills were not to be denied and Jer Holland earned them a replay with a point just before the full-time whistle.
Newcestown — E. Kelly 0-6 (0-4 frees); P. Condon 1-0; C. Keane 0-2; T. Twomey and D. Twomey 0-1 each.
J. O’Leary 0-4 (0-3 frees); G. Holland, J. Flavin and P. Butler 0-2 each; N. Griffin, E. McCarthy and A. Brett 0-1 each.
J. O’Sullivan; B. Maloney, R. Courtney, D. Heffernan; K. Long, J. Wilson, G. O’Rourke; John Crowley (capt.), C. O’Donovan; M. Bradfield, C. Keane, A. O’Sullivan; D. Twomey, E. Kelly, T. Twomey. Subs: P. Condon for Bradfield (40th minute); Jason Crowley for O’Rourke (42nd); H. Curran for A. O’Sullivan (48th).
P. Colbert; B. O’Driscoll, J. O’Mahony, J. Terry; R. O’Neill, B. Murphy, M. Lawton; J. Holland, J. O’Leary; P. Butler, Q. Higgins, A. Brett; E. McCarthy, J. Flavin, N. Griffin. Sub: M.P. Bailey for Higgins (41st minute).
Ger Harrington (Carrigaline).