After being relegated from the Premier grade last season, they are well on course to go back up again.
They left it very late though at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday before chalking up a remarkable three point win. Following a better second-half, they levelled the match a minute from time and then took the lead with a fortuitous goal in stoppage time. A rare mistake by Milford keeper James Lenihan gifted Eoin Conway the winning score.
This was a harsh result for Milford who outplayed the east Cork team for long stretches. With Seanie O’Connell in excellent form at wing-forward they opened up a three point cushion on 10 minutes. Add in two 65’s from centre-back Eoin Dillon and the north Cork men were turning in as fine a performance as we have seen from them. However, all the while O’Neill’s were staying in touch mainly through the precision of Ger O’Leary (0-7 to 0-5).
Milford then went seven clear at the break having enjoyed a wonderful spell coming up to the half. O’Connell continued to impress, notching his sixth point with Shane Carroll bagging two, and a marvellous individual effort from defender Rory Villiers. O’Neill’s had it all to do, but they were turning to play with the aid of the strengthening wind.
Eoin McCarthy switched from midfield to marshal O’Connell, and Conway moved out to the half forward line. These adjustments were effective, but wayward shooting meant they still trailed 0-16 to 0-8 on 40 minutes. However, they gradually broke down Milford’s resolve. Eddie Holland, sub Luke Swayne and Conway rallied the troops with inspiring points before O’Leary made it a three-point game by the 50th minute. Sub Paudie O’Brien and Tadgh Flynn settled Milford with a pair of points but what an unbelievable finish we had from Fr O’Neill’s.
O’Leary converted from 80 metres. Conway doubled on a Podge Butler free to the roof of the net. Conway added a point with time almost up (1-15 to 0-18). Conway collected their own puck out and his speculative shot deceived Lenihan and with it came victory.
Scorers for Fr O’Neill’s: E Conway 2-4, G O’Leary 0-7 (0-6 frees, 0-1 65m), L Swayne 0-2, W Joyce and E Holland 0-1 each.
Scorers for Milford: S O’Connell 0-6, A Watson, S Carroll, E Dillon (65s) and H O’Gorman 0-2 each, P O’Regan, P O’Brien, T O’Flynn and R Villiers 0-1 each.
FR O’NEILL’S: P Colbert; J T Gould, J O’Mahony (Capt), J Barry; J O’Driscoll, P Butler, T Lawton; G O’Leary, E McCarthy; B Murphy, Q Higgins, W Joyce; R Cullinane, E Conway, E Holland.
Subs: L Swayne for J O’Driscoll (ht), N Griffin for R Cullinane (56 mins).
MILFORD: J Lenihan; G O’Mahony, J O’Brien, R Villiers; P Watson, E Dillon, J Leonard; D Corkery, H O’Gorman; L Kenneally, A Watson, S O’Connell; S Carroll, T Flynn, P O’Regan (Capt).
Subs: P O’Brien for P Watson (44), J Cremin for L Kenneally, P Kirwan for S Carroll (both 49).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).