On that occasion they lost to Nemo Rangers, but the 2009 final, scheduled for October 18, will be a reprise of the 1985 showdown when a Jimmy Barry-Murphy-inspired Barr’s side claimed victory over Clonakilty.
Last night’s result at rain-lashed Pairc Ui Rinn could be viewed as a surprise following Carbery’s quarter-final heroics against Nemo Rangers, but the intensity and composure the west Cork men brought to the table on that occasion was not in evidence against an excellently-drilled Barrs side.
Carbery’s cause wasn’t helped before throw-in when they were forced to start without injured Cork senior Alan O’Connor (knee). The St Colum’s man’s athleticism in midfield was sorely missed though credit must go to the Barr’s midfield pairing of Eoin Keane and Aidan O’Shea who were just two stars amongst many on a magnificent night for the city side.
They had star performers throughout from goalkeeper Kevin McTernan, who brought off two crucial second half saves, to the wonderfully skilful Robert O’Mahony and super-sub Jason Sexton, scorer of two sublime points late in a fine contest.
Fionan Murray also rolled back the years producing a mature performance while his place-kicking proved crucial on a difficult night for flowing football.
The platform for the Togher club’s victory was set in the second quarter during which time they outscored their opponents by 1-5 to 0-2, Cathal McCarthy’s cool finish from a delicate O’Mahony pass one of the highlights of an encounter that delighted the 4,063 attendance.
Trailing by six points at the break, Carbery did reproduce patches of the form that had made them favourites for outright honours this year. Bossing possession for long periods with their half backline committed to attack, they exerted prolonged pressure on the Barr’s defence.
They managed to create two excellent goal opportunities but both Jeremy Canty and Tadhg Twomey were thwarted by the superb McTernan.
The first quarter was an even affair with efforts from Murray and O’Mahony cancelled out by Carbery’s most effective forward, Colm O’Driscoll. St Finbarr’s upped the ante in the second quarter with Keane and O’Shea inspired in midfield where Graham Canty, normally the heartbeat of this side, had to give second best in this crucial sector.
Carbery struggled to contain the blue tide as O’Mahony, Murray and Roy Leahy had the west Cork side’s defence in all kinds of trouble. Forced to foul, Barr’s sharpshooter Murray was on song from placed-balls, landing three from three while Roy Leahy also chipped in with a delightful point off his left.
The game’s first turning point arrived in the 29th minute when the brilliant O’Mahony picked up possession on the right wing, directed a delicate ship into the path of Cathal McCarthy who was coolness personified in dispatching to the net. Tadhg Deasy did get one back for Carbery before the break but leading 1-7 to 0-4 the Barr’s were in the driving seat.
The divisional side re-emerged more energised and forward, Stephen Keohane, Colm O’Driscoll and, to a lesser extent, Graham Canty key to their third quarter revival. This time, however, the Barr’s were forced to concede frees and Daniel O’Donovan showed the necessary composure from frees to make it a three point game by the 51st minute.
A point from Greg Leahy in the 55th minute steadied the city side’s nerves and, though Colm O’Driscoll put just a goal between the sides again two minutes later, up popped super-sub Jason Sexton to drive over a ‘45’ before landing a beauty which secured a final berth for the Togher side for the first time in 16 years.
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: F Murray 0-5 (0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘45’), C McCarthy 1-0, R O’Mahony and J Sexton (0-1 ‘45’) 0-2 each, R Leahy and G Leahy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Carbery: C O’Driscoll 0-5 (0-3frees), D O’Donovan (0-3 frees), T Deasy 0-1.
CARBERY: P White (Newcestown); J O’Donovan (Bandon), S Levis (Muintir Bhaire), K Harrington (Bantry Blues); S Keohane (St, Mary’s), D O’Sullivan (Ballinascarthy), O Sexton (Kilbrittain); D O’Donovan (Kilmacabea), G Canty (Bantry Blues); K Coffey (Oliver Plunkett’s), T Deasy(Tadhg MacCarthaigh), C O’Driscoll (do); J Canty (Bantry Blues), H Curran (Newcestown), T Twomey (do).
Subs: K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh) for Coffey (40 mins); M Fehily (D O Mathúnas) for J O’Donovan (52), R Hourihane (Kilmacabea) for J Canty (56).
ST FINBARR’S: K McTernan; P Kennedy, M Shields, G O’Connor; C Lyons, J Coyle, M Ryan; E Keane, A O’Shea; C McCarthy, G Leahy, J O’Donoghue; R O’Mahony, R Leahy, F Murray.
Subs: J Sexton for R Leahy (55)
Ref: C Lane.