There were a number of magnificent performers on view. Eoin Conway, Ger O’Leary, Eddie Holland and Billy Murphy were flawless for the winners, while Eamon Brosnan, Jeremy Curtin, Denis O’Riordan and Liam Collins never put a foot wrong for the losers.
Fr O’Neill’s were quick to settle and had two points on the board in as many minutes. Meelin, appearing at this level for the first time, struggled to adapt to the pace of the higher grade, and eight minutes elapsed before Eamon Brosnan opened their account with a point.
Brosnan was very sharp in the Meelin attack and showed a clean pair of heels to his marker in the 10th minute before drilling the sliothar to the O’Neills net to give his side the lead for the first time.
The east Cork mentors, clearly concerned by the threat of Brosnan, switched corner backs and John Barry succeeded in curtailing the corner forward to such an extent that Meelin never threatened for the remainder of the half.
O’Neills stormed into an 0-10 to 1-2 lead by half time, Ger O’Leary accounting for seven of those points.
Meelin threatened to make a game of it on the change over with two quick points in a row, but a highly efficient O’Neills side hit back with a goal by Eoin Conway and it looked to be plain sailing for the east Cork side.
However, Meelin hadn’t quite read the script. Scores came in quick succession, Billy Murphy availing of a defensive error to goal for O’Neills and Jason O’Callaghan doing likewise for Meelin.
There was no separating these two splendid teams as they continued to trade scores, before the more experienced Fr. O’Neills outfit edged a point clear coming up to full-time.
However last year’s junior All-Ireland champions were not to be denied and it was fitting that the magnificent Eamon Brosnan should have the final score of the 60 minutes to send the game into extra time.
In the first period a goal by 17-year-old Kenneth Hegarty edged O’Neills in front, and they stayed there despite the best efforts of Brosnan who had the final score, to retrieve the situation for Meelin.
Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: E Conway 1-6, G O’Leary 0-8 (6f), B Murphy 2-0, K Hegarty 1-0, E Holland 0-2.
Scorers for Meelin: E Brosnan 1-10 (0-4f), J Curtin 0-3, J O’Callaghan 1-0, L Collins, W Murphy 0-2 each, DJ O’Sullivan, S O’Riordan, W Buckley 0-1 each.
P Colbert; J Barry, J O’Mahony, JT Goold; R O’Neill, P Butler, J O’Driscoll; E McCarthy, G O’Leary; E Conway, Q Higgins, B Murphy; W Joyce, R Cullinane, E Holland.
Subs: K. Wall for Cullinane (ht), K Hegarty for Joyce (40), M Pomphrett for O’Neill (45).
SM O’Sullivan; TJ Brosnan, D O’Riordan, D Linehan; W Buckley, K Collins, Jerry Forrest; L Collins, W Murphy; B O’Sullivan, S O’Riordan, John Forrest; E Brosnan, C Murphy, DJ O’Sullivan.
Subs: J Curtin for K Collins (25), J O’Callaghan for C Murphy (40); J O’Doherty for J Forrest (60); B. Collins for J Curtin (75), TJ Brosnan for B Collins (75).
Referee: M Moynihan (Grenagh).