The victory ensured Carbery secured the sole qualification place on offer from the group and they will now meet UCC on April 11. More significantly, the result prevented the creation of a fixture headache for county board chiefs as a Duhallow win would have necessitated a play-off between the two sides and Muskerry to determine the group winners, due to Imokilly giving a walkover in last night’s other scheduled clash.
The success, which maintained Carbery’s flawless record this season, was only confirmed in injury time when Ballinascarthy player O’Sullivan crowned a lung-bursting run through the Duhallow rearguard by poking the ball beyond goalkeeper Kevin Murphy and into the net via the butt of the upright.
The score was a replica effort of O’Sullivan’s first-half strike in the 10th minute when he galloped past several challenges before raising a green flag after his initial shot had been blocked.
That first goal was the centrepiece of an early scoring burst that enabled Carbery to pull 1-5 to 0-1 clear on the scoreboard by the 18th minute.
That advantage reflected their dominance, with Mark Delaney and Alan O’Connor giving strong performances while Denis McSweeney and Mark Sugrue were amongst the scorers. Indeed, Carbery’s position of strength could have been solidified even further but for some wasteful goal attempts.
After a lifeless opening to the game, Duhallow produced an astonishing turnaround before the interval to register six points in six minutes.
Billy Dennehy and Matthew Dilworth were on song in attack as they inflicted damage on Carbery’s aspirations with quality points. A magnificent flowing move also lead to a goal for Duhallow as well but Dennehy’s shot was bravely blocked by Michéal Cronin in the Carbery goal.
McSweeney and Colm O’Driscoll gave Carbery some breathing space as they kicked them into a 1-8 to 0-7 lead yet Duhallow were buoyed further as they closed the half with points by John Lane and Dilworth.
Duhallow continued to maintain the momentum of that impressive football after the break and had regained parity (1-9 to 0-12) by the 40th minute.
Carbery managed to weather the storm with Colm O’Driscoll scoring two points and Deane also on target.
Duhallow fought tenaciously all the way to the finish and closed the gap to the minimum but Carbery closed out the game in style with O’Sullivan claiming the insurance second goal.
Scorers for Carbery: D O’Sullivan 2-0; R Deane 0-4 (1f); C O’Driscoll 0-3 (1f); D Barron, D McSweeney 0-2 each; M Sugrue, K O’Driscoll 0-1 each.
Scorers for Duhallow: M Dilworth 0-4 (1f); M Herlihy, B Dennehy 0-3 each; J Lane 0-2 (2f); N Fleming, S Murphy 0-1 each.
CARBERY: M Cronin (St Colum’s); E Kelleher (St Mary’s), S Levis (Muintir Bhaire), S Keohane (St Mary’s); M Delaney (Bantry Blues), K Harrington (Bantry Blues), J Wall (Kilbrittain); A O’Connor (St Colum’s), D O’Sullivan (Ballinascarthy); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), C O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh), M Sugrue (Bandon); R Deane (Bantry Blues), D McSweeney (St Colum’s), D Barron (Bantry Blues).
Subs: K O’Donovan (St James) for Sugrue (40), K Coffey (St Oliver Plunkett’s) for McSweeney (40),
DUHALLOW: K Murphy (Boherbue); K Buckley (Knocknagree), J Dennehy (Kiskeam), J McLoughlin (Kanturk); AJ O’Connor (Kiskeam), P Gayer (Castlemagner), B Daly (Newmarket); S O’Sullivan (Dromtariffe), C O’Riordan (Lyre); N Fleming (Ballydesmond), S Murphy (Ballydesmond), M Dilworth (Knocknagree); M Herlihy (Kiskeam), S Hickey (Rockchapel), B Dennehy (Kiskeam).
Subs: J Lane (Newmarket) for Hickey (20), J Cott (Castlemagner) for Murphy (43), D Scannell (Kiskeam) for B Dennehy (57), DJ O’Callaghan (Rockchapel) for Dilworth (57).
Referee: J Bermingham (Bride Rovers).