In dreadful conditions, both sides served up a marvellous contest which was level four times until Liam Cahill kicked what proved to be the equalising point for Clonakilty with six minutes remaining, and it was no more than they deserved.
In truth this game should never have taken place. Torrential rain in the first half turned a saturated pitch into a sea of water which made ball control and underfoot conditions near impossible.
Extra time had been pencilled in the event of a draw, but wiser counsel prevailed and the replay is set for next Friday night at a venue to be decided.
Two evenly-matched sides were level twice in the opening half during which torrential rain threatened to halt proceedings. At the end of the opening quarter, Coachford led 0-3 to 0-1.
Darragh Ring who sparkled with Cork in the Munster inter-county win over Kerry a week ago, was again very influential at corner forward for the Muskerry school and apart from scoring two early points, he was denied a goal by an excellent block by Clon full back Daniel O’Leary.
Clon weathered the Coachford pressure and playing excellent football, levelled by the 27th minute before Brian O’Leary gave them the lead which they took into half time.
As conditions continued to deteriorate, the sides were level on two further occasions early in the second half before Coachford’s greater penetration in attack saw them take a two-point lead — 0-7 to 0-5 — by the end of the third quarter, thanks to excellent points by Michael Deasy.
The pressure on the Clon defence was intense thanks to the excellence of Deasy, Shane Sexton and Daragh Ring, but the West Cork school’s defence held firm, primarily due to outstanding full back Daniel O’Leary and centre back Stephen O’Connell.
Having lost three finals in the last four years, Clon were in danger of losing another, but had the muddy goalmouth to thank for saving a certain goal which might have put the game beyond their reach, when Stephen O’Connor’s shot got stuck.
It was a huge let off and they took full advantage. Inspired by the runs of Liam Cahill, they hit back and Diarmuid Nagle’s point in the 50th minute left a point between the sides.
Coachford who had never won this grade of football championship before, were forced to soak up enormous pressure as Clon came in search of an equaliser, and they were grateful for some excellent defending by Daniel Forde and Aidan Barry-Murphy.
But Clon were not to be denied and Liam Cahill’s point in the 54th minute ensured the sides must do it all again.
Scorers for Clonakilty: Brian O’Leary, C Cullinane (0-1 free), L Cahill 0-2 each; D Nagle 0-1.
Scorers for Coachford: D Ring 0-3 (0-1 free); M Deasy 0-2; Barry O’Leary, S O’Connor 0-1 each.
CLONAKILTY: E O’Brien; M Sheehy, D O’Leary, G Boohig; T Clancy, S O’Connell, BM O’Donovan; D Nagle, R O’Sullivan; JC O’Flynn, L, Cahill, D Coakley; C Cullinane, B O’Leary, B O’Mahony.
Subs: C Hunt for O’Flynn, ht; G Lombard for O’Leary, 42; G Callinan for O’Mahony, 52.
COACHFORD: J Buckley; J Chambers, D Forde, A Barry-Murphy; P Twomey, D Murphy, B O’Leary; S Sexton, S Dennehy; C O’Callaghan, M Deasy, S Murray; J Corkery, S O’Connor, D Ring.
Subs: A Deasy for O’Connor, 42; M Dennehy for Chambers, 55.
Referee: B Kinery (Crosshaven).