The result ensures that last year’s semi-finalists will have no relegation worries to contend with as they advance to the fourth round. That was largely due to the strength of their hurling at the finish as they outscored Ballinhassig by 1-4 to 0-0 in the final six minutes of action.
The scale of the defeat was rough justice on a Ballinhassig side that looked on course for success entering the finale when they lead 0-14 to 1-9. However, they will now need to overcome the challenge of Cloyne in a game that will have a major bearing on whether they are plying their trade at senior level in 2012.
When the need was greatest, the key attacking weapons that Douglas possess all came to the fore. Stephen Moylan converted a crucial 56th minute free that left them only a point adrift before Mark Collins tied the game with a neat point after intricate play by the Douglas forwards had created the opening. Moylan pushed Douglas into the ascendancy in the 61st minute with a stylish score off his left before centre-forward Odhrán Mulrooney did brilliantly to make headway from the right wing and after scything past the Ballinhassig defence, he kept his composure to rifle a shot into the bottom corner of the net. That clinched the victory for Douglas and Mark Harrington fired over another point to seal their passage into the next round.
After the tepid nature of their performance in the first round against Blackrock, Douglas will be greatly heartened by their improved showing in this game. The scoring difficulties that plagued them against Blackrock when they went 15 minutes without raising a flag were rectified here.
The decision to hand Cork minor Alan Cadogan a starting berth proved a shrewd one. He looked sharp from the outset and fired over two points inside the first 10 minutes, while also playing a role in the creation of three other points. At times Douglas looked like drifting out of this game, particularly in the second-half, but the menace posed by Cadogan and Moylan helped them to stay in contention.
Ballinhassig were left to rue their inability to close out the match when in a winning position. They had performed impressively in the first-half with Shane McCarthy, who had a terrific game despite being forced off for a spell with a blood injury, and Declan O’Sullivan spearheading their drive, while Danny O’Callaghan looked a threat in attack.
O’Sullivan and O’Callaghan landed important points before the break to nudge the South-East side into an 0-8 to 0-6 advantage which was significant given how tight the exchanges had been in the first-half. But Douglas kept battling and after impressive midfielder Barry Fitzgerald popped over his second point of the game, Richard Murphy was rewarded for his persistence on the left wing as he robbed the Ballinhassig defence of possession and cracked a shot that flew into the top corner of the net.
Douglas were immensely satisfied with their 1-7 to 0-8 interval lead yet Ballinhassig were full of purpose once the second-half commenced. The introduction of Fintan O’Leary at the break revitalized their attacking options and he displayed his class by swinging over two lovely points from play. O’Leary’s second point tied the match at 1-9 to 0-12 by the 42nd minute and Ballinhassig started to grow in confidence. Declan Healy, Brendan Lombard and Brian O’Sullivan all combined to shut out the Douglas attack with expert defending while Martin Coleman was equal to Alan Cadogan’s close-range effort for goal in the 48th minute. A great point by Donncha O’Donovan in the 52nd minute sent Ballinhassig 0-14 to 1-9 clear.
However Douglas, inspired by the superb defending of Ray Keating and Eoin Cadogan, kept on fighting and were rewarded by a late spree of scores that pushed them over the line.
Scorers for Douglas: S Moylan 0-5 (0-3f), O Mulrooney 1-1, R Murphy 1-0, A Cadogan, B Fitzgerald 0-2 each, M Collins, F Desmond, M Harrington 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballinhassig: D O’Sullivan 0-5 (0-3f), D O’Callaghan 0-3 (0-2f), D O’Donovan, F O’Leary 0-2 each, S Dineen, M Coleman (0-1f) 0-1 each.
DOUGLAS: B Boyle; A Barry, E Cadogan, R Keating; C Lucey, C Dineen, P Shine; B Fitzgerald, J Collins; M Collins, O Mulrooney, R Murphy; A Cadogan, F Desmond, S Moylan.
BALLINHASSIG: M Coleman; E Finn, D Healy, B Coleman; B O’Sullivan, B Lombard, P Coomey; S McCarthy, D O’Donovan; M Sheehan, D O’Sullivan, D O’Callaghan; B Holland, D Dineen, P O’Sullivan.
Subs: K O’Sullivan for McCarthy (blood) (12), McCarthy for K O’Sullivan (22), S Dineen for P O’Sullivan (27), F O’Leary for D Dineen (half-time), M Aherne for Holland (46),
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Éire Óg).