Not a great game of football, but Barr’s coach Bill O’Connell was still pleased. “I was a bit worried at half-time, I didn’t think our lead was strong enough. They came at us in the second-half, I expected that, but I thought we carried the ball much better than in the opening half and it made a big difference. The lads worked very hard and, following last year’s minor success, it would be nice now to follow up with an U21 victory.”
And they have every chance, though it was hard to believe most of this Macroom side played in last year’s final, a game they lost so narrowly to Castlehaven. The Mid-Corkmen often looked rudderless, gave away too much possession and couldn’t buy a score. Barr’s, on the other hand, were strong, economical and found the net twice.
Playing with aid of the strong wind, Barr’s were quickly on target when Jason Sexton pointed. But for some poor shooting, they would have been further ahead before Sean Kiely tied up the scores with a sixth minute Macroom point.
With Cillian O’Driscoll doing well at midfield — the Barr’s winning most of the Macroom kick-outs — points followed from Colin O’Sullivan, Cian Lougheed and Ian Leahy and the city champions led 0-4 to 0-1 after the opening quarter.
Plenty of effort from Macroom, but, with big guns David Goold and Kiely failing to upset a resilient Barr’s rearguard, they struggled for scores. Goold did reduce the deficit with a pointed free, but, in the 16th minute, the Barr’s struck for their opening goal. Leahy was first onto a long through ball from midfield, his clever flick was picked up by Jonathan Holland and he gave keeper Thomas Creedon no chance.
A Conor O’Sullivan free and a late Kiely point gave Macroom hope (trailing 1-5 to 0-4 at the break), the Barr’s four point lead well within their grasp given the strength of the wind.
Macroom moved Stephen Casey to full-forward for the second-half as the Muskerry champions battled hard to reduce the deficit. Goold was having no luck from either play or frees until the 43rd minute when he finally found the target.
And it got even better for Macroom a minute later when substitute Trevor Horgan blasted a shot off the top of the crossbar, over for point, and now with just two points separating the sides entering the final quarter, 1-5 to 0-6, it was time for the Barr’s to take notice.
They responded in style and, once Colin O’Sullivan lifted the siege in the 50th minute with a fine point, the Barr’s turned the screw. Glen O’Connor, Lougheed, the impressive Sexton, who finished with 1-5, and the introduction of Denis O’Brien in the 50th minute all aided the Barr’s cause.
Then the hammer blow for Macroom in the 54th minute when great work down the right flank by O’Brien enabled Sexton to break through the Macroom defence and fire home goal number two to finish Macroom off.
The Barr’s were comfortable now, Sexton firing over two late frees to complete his impressive tally. Next step the final against the winners of the Fermoy-Newmarket replay.
Scorers for St. Finbarr’s: J. Sexton 1-5 (0-3 frees), J. Holland 1-0, C. O’Sullivan 0-2, C. Lougheed, I. Leahy 0-1 each.
Macroom: S. Kiely, D. Goold (frees) 0-2 each, C. O’Sullivan (free) B. Horgan 0-1 each.
ST. FINBARR’S: D. Haines; P. Kennedy, R. O’Dwyer, K. Punch; G. O’Connor, D. Bracken, T. McCarthy; E. Keane, C. O’Driscoll; C. O’Sullivan, J. Holland, C. Lougheed; J. Sexton, B. Newman, I. Leahy.
Subs: D. O’Brien for Newman (50m), P. Wiley for McCarthy (57m).
MACROOM: T. Creedon; P. Lynch, R. Buckley, G. Angland; I. Casey, P. Corrigan, M. McSweeney; S. Kiely, D. Goold; B. Horgan, D. Golden, S. Casey; C. O’Sullivan, J. Ryan, G. Cronin.
Subs: T. Horan for McSweeney (41), B. Lynch for Ryan (51), S. Pierce for Cronin (53).
Referee: E. Sheehy (Newcestown).