With 57 minutes elapsed, a final place looked in the grasp of St Fachtna’s. They held powerful momentum, possessed the dominant players and most critically enjoyed a 0-13 to 2-5 advantage. Coláiste an Sceilge were reeling from an ineffectual second-half display but with the game starting to slip, they wrestled back the initiative.
Wing-forward Ian Galvin jumped in to bang over a pair of points that restored parity and then full-forward Eanna O’Connor got on the end of a lightning breakaway attack near goal. With St Fachtna’s goalkeeper Ryan Price advancing, O’Connor deftly lobbed the ball towards the net and despite the desperate scrambling of the Cork defence, the umpire raised the match-winning green flag. From the resultant kick out, referee Derick O’Mahony called halt to proceedings and Coláiste na Sceilge secured their passage to a first final appearance since 2004.
At the Coláiste an Sceilge helm was Jack O’Connor, the Kerry senior boss whose 2009 winning ways continue, and who had the satisfaction of seeing his son Eanna notch that decisive late goal.
Yet the manager was the first to admit that he had been anxious entering those late stages. “We looked beaten three points to go with two points down. St Fachtna’s were very strong around the middle of the field, a lot of pace and a lot of legs in that area. They were a good team, any team who beats Chríost Rí is. But with the forwards we have, we felt if we got one breakaway, there was a goal in us.
“We left it late. But sure, better late than never.”
The losers were shattered. The Skibbereen team produced some splendid football in the second-half as they made a terrific push back into contention. They had some outstanding displays — midfielder Ger Minihane making several lung-bursting runs forward, Peader O’Driscoll helping exert control around the middle, and attackers Robert McCarthy and Alan Holland both sparkling in front of goal. Yet their main man throughout was Danny O’Donovan, who orchestrated play from centre-back in wonderful fashion.
But for all that, it was Coláiste an Sceilge’s economy that won the day. They plundered goals at vital times and the attacking trio of Stephen O’Dwyer, Eanna O’Connor and Ian Galvin showed plenty of invention and accuracy. O’Dwyer blasted in the first in the 11th minute after good build up by Galvin and O’Connor. That put them 1-1 to 0-3 ahead, yet St Fachtna’s edged the remainder of the first-half.
Minihane, Holland and McCarthy all shot points and by the 29th minute they were level, 1-3 to 0-6. In addition, Coláiste na Sceilge were grateful to ‘keeper Damien Horgan who produced smart blocks to deny Thomas Hegarty and McCarthy goals. The Kerry school then enjoyed the boost of seeing Eanna O’Connor swing over a first-half injury-time free that gave them a slim interval advantage.
On the restart Coláiste na Sceilge upped their workrate around the middle, Max Thiemann and Dominic O’Sullivan grew into the game and O’Connor cut through for a sublime goal in the 37th minute. Damien Kelly tacked on a point and with 17 minutes remaining they were 2-5 to 0-6 clear.
But the Cork outfit kept calm, didn’t rush forward in search of goals and simply popped over the points. Minihane supplied two frees, and one each from Holland, McCarthy and Dan MacEoin had them tied with seven minutes to go.
They kept storming forward with Holland and MacEoin finding the range to nudge them two points in front.
Coláiste na Sceilge looked in real trouble. But that dramatic late rally changed everything.
Scorers for Coláiste na Sceilge: E O’Connor 2-1 (0-1f), S O’Dwyer 1-1, I Galvin 0-3, N O’Shea, D Kelly 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Fachtna’s: G Minihane 0-4 (0-3f), A Holland, R McCarthy 0-3 each, D MacEoin 0-2, T Hegarty 0-1.
COLÁISTE NA SCEILGE: D Horgan (St Marys); Stephen O’Sullivan (Skellig Rangers), M Griffin (St Mls/Foilmore), N Fitzgerald (Waterville); G Gibson (Waterville), D O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses), I Casey (St Marys); M Thiemann (St Mls/Foilmore), Shane O’Sullivan (Renard); I Galvin (Derrynane), D Kelly (St Mls/Foilmore), D Daly (St Marys); S O’Dwyer (Waterville), E O’Connor (St Mls/Foilmore), N O’Shea (Dromid Pearses).
Subs: P O’Sullivan for Stephen O’Sullivan (h/t), M O’Connor for Daly (51), B O’Dwyer for Casey (51).
ST FACHTNA’S: R Price (O’Donovan Rossa); E Ó’Donnabháin (O’Donovan Rossa), R Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), C O’Riordan (Kilmacabea); D Hazel (O’Donovan Rossa), D O’Donovan (Ilen Rovers), C McCarthy (Clann na nGael); G Minihane (O’Donovan Rossa), P O’Driscoll (Ilen Rovers); J Walsh (Clann na nGael), R McCarthy (O’Donovan Rossa), D Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa); D MacEoin (Ilen Rovers), T Hegarty (O’Donovan Rossa), A Holland (Ilen Rovers).
Sub: E Shiely (Tadhg MacCarthaigh) for C McCarthy (inj) (13).
Referee: Derick O’Mahony (Tipperary).