It was a result that didn’t look remotely likely after 25 minutes of a dull opening half when the Mid Cork side held an 0-8 to 0-3 lead but two late points coming up to half time were crucial and gave the Togher side the momentum to go on and win the game.
When they look back on this game Ballinora will be hugely disappointed at their failure to kill off the Barr’s when they were totally on top. Playing with the wind they wasted a gilt-edged chance of a goal just 20 seconds into the game when Conor Brosnan broke clean through.
However, with only the Barr’s ‘keeper to beat Kevin McTiernan brought off a superb save to deny Brosnan a certain goal which would have given his side the perfect start.
It was a huge let off for the Barr’s so early in the game and they took full advantage to lead 0-2 to nil after five minutes. Despite the miss Ballinora were playing the better football
Eoin Lougheed held Barr’s danger man Robert O’Mahony in a vice like grip, Michael Hodge did likewise on Roy Leahy and with Cronan Healy causing havoc at wind forward, with his darting runs the Barr’s defence was under enormous pressure.
Using the long ball to great effect, and with their forwards prepared to shoot on sight, Ballinora scorched into a 0-8 to 0-3 lead scoring six points in a row, Colin O’Shea scoring three of them, and it looked as if the city club was destined to spend another season on the lower grade.
However they finished the half strongly with points by Robert O’Mahony and Fionan Murray and they were to prove crucial scores as a five-point half time deficit may have been beyond St Finbarr’s.
Whatever team coach Tony Leahy said to his charges in the dressing room at half time, it certainly had the desired effect.
With Michael Shields now at full back where he looked far more comfortable, and Robert O’Mahony thundering into the game, the ‘Barr’s kicked six points in a row, three of them by O’Mahony to turn lead by three at the end of the third quarter.
Murray, now operating out at wing forward was far more affect and as the Ballinora challenge completely disintegrated, there was only going to be one winner.
However for all their territorial advantage Barr’s couldn’t put their opponents away and a Cronan Healy point, Ballinora’s first score for 14 minutes play, left just two between the sides, as the tension began to mount.
Robert O’Mahony and Fionan Murray were hugely effective for the Barr’s up front and both added points to ease the pressure on their side, and despite Cathal Sheehan’s point with five minutes to go, the Barr’s held their nerve to set up a semi-final clash with Newcestown.
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: R. O’Mahony (0-3 frees), F. Murray (0-3 frees) 0-5 each; C. McCarthy 0-2; R. Leahy, R. Curran, C. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballinora: C. O’Shea 0-4 (0-1 free); M. Murphy, C. Healy C. Brosnan (0-1 free) 0-2 each; G. O’Halloran 0-1.
ST FINBARR’S: K. McTiernan; P. O’Brien, R. O’Dwyer, G. O’Connor; M. Shields, M. Ryan, R. McCarthy; J. O’Donoghue, A. O’Shea; C. O’Sullivan, C. McCarthy, R. O’Mahony; J. Sexton, R. Leahy, F. Murray.
Subs: R. Curran for Sexton (40); E. Keane for McCarthy (50).
BALLINORA: E. Walsh; D. O’Neill, M. Hodge, W. Dineen; E. Lougheed, D. O’Hare, L. Hodge; G. O’Leary, P. Martin; C. Healy, G. O’Halloran, CD. O’Shea; M. Murphy, C. Brosnan, C. Sheehan.
Subs: S. O’Sullivan for L. Hodge (47); K. Conway for O’Leary (50).
Referee: M. Colllins (Clonakilty).