Goalkeeper Adrian Power proved the Ballyduff hero, landing an injury time free from his own 40 yard line to force a draw in a derby which had everything.
Sparks flew from the throw in, and while quarter was neither given nor asked, there wasn’t an untoward incident to mar an unforgettable hurling game.
The sides traded some great points before the game’s only goal arrived after 20 minutes — Dan Shanahan snapped up a Paul Prendergast delivery and fired to the net to open a 1-7 to 0-5 lead.
The champions thundered back, and with Stephen Molumphy revelling in his move from full to centre forward and Brendan Hannon unerring from frees, there was just a goal between them (1-10 to 0-10) at the interval.
A top class first half was surpassed by an even better second. Unanswered points by Molumphy, Brendan Hannon, Brian, Pa, and Jamie Kearney (2) had Ballyduff three in front going into the final quarter.
Maurice Shanahan finally got Lismore off the mark with a pointed free, and then brother Dan took over with a series of magnificent points that had them back in front by the 55th.
It looked as though Maurice Shanahan had won it for Lismore when, from 60 metres and out on the sideline, he rifled over the point of the game to put them two ahead with two minutes to play.
Champions die hard, however. First Brendan Hannon pointed a free — his ninth — and then came that dramatic Power equaliser from 100 metres that had everyone in the ground standing in salute.
The champions greatly indebted to their goalkeeper and eventual saviour Adrian Power, Tom and Ger Feeney in defence, Seamas Hannon at midfield, and Jamie Kearney and Pa Kearney, and Brendan Hannon in attack.
James O’Connor, David O’Gorman, Eoin and Dave Bennett, Dan and Maurice Shanahan, brilliantly led the Lismore assault and will probably be disappointed that their side was denied.
Roll on next Sunday’s replay.
Scorers for Ballyduff Upper: B Hannon (0-9, 0-8 frees); J Kearney (0-4); P Kearney (0-2); B Kearney (0-2); S Molumphy (0-2); S Hannon, A Power (f) (0-1) each.
Scorers for Lismore: D Shanahan (1-5); M Shanahan (0-7, 0-6 frees); D Bennett(0-2, “65s’’); J Shanahan, J Prendergast, C O’Gorman, A Landers (0-1) each.
BALLYDUFF UPPER: A Power; P Molumphy, T. Molumphy, M Drislane; J Twomey, T Feeney, G Feeney; S Hannon, K Geary; J Kearney, S Kearney, B Kearney; P Kearney, S Molumphy, B. Hannon.
LISMORE: B. Landers; E. Bennett, J. O’Connor, S. Bennett; P. Howard, D. O’Gorman, D. Howard; D. Bennett, P Prendergast; D. Shanahan, S. Kearney, J. Shanahan; C O’Gorman, M Shanahan, J Prendergast.
Subs: S Daly for J Shanahan; J Heneghan for C O’Gorman; A Landers for P. Prendergast.
Referee: Maurice Wadding, Roanmore.