Barryroe looked odds on winners as they produced a marvellous display to lead by six points at the break but they lost that advantage midway through the second half to lead by one, only to come good again and lead by 0-17 to 0-11.
However, in a blistering two-minute spell, Fr O’Neills grabbed 2-2 without reply to leave the Barryroe side stunned at the final whistle.
Shorn seven of last year’s team, O’Neills were hit by a well drilled Barryroe side who hurled with supreme confidence and struck a string of points to take a 0-6 to 0-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Barryroe’s defence was rock solid with their half back line of Ger Coleman, Bernard O’Brien and Gearóid Holland particularly impressive and with Tadhg Harrington and John O’Donovan ruling the roost at midfield, they went on to lead 0-11 to 0-5 coming up to the break.
The second half developed into a gripping encounter as O’Neill’s threw down the gauntlet with three points in-a-row. There was far more urgency in their play, with Ger O’Leary and Mark O’Keeffe playing inspired hurling, and only a point separated the sides by the three quarter stage. In fact O’Neill’s could have taken a shock lead, but with only the ’keeper to beat, Liam O’Driscoll’s effort hit the side netting.
Back came Barryroe with five unanswered points, three by the impressive Kieran Griffin to lead by six again, and it looked as if Fr O’Neill’s had shot their bolt.
However, as the pressure mounted on the Barryroe defence, and in an incredible two minute spell, this game was turned on its head.
Firstly Niall Griffin’s long-range effort spun off the greasy surface into the net and seconds later, Podge Butler got a touch to Kenneth Hegarty’s long delivery to direct the ball to the opposite corner of the net to tie the game.
Barryroe were rocked and points by substitute Padraig McMahon and another from a 65’ by Ger O’Leary left them shattered.
To compound their misery, Gearóid Holland received a straight red card just on the call of full time which will rule him out of the second round against Dripsey.
Scorers for Fr O’Neills: G O’Leary 0-6 (0-4fs, 0-2 65s), N Griffin, P Butler 1-0 each, E McCarthy, L Swayne 0-2 each; A Brett, L O’Driscoll, P McMahon 0-1 each.
Scorers for Barryroe: K Griffin 0-7 (5fs), T Harrington 0-3fs, D O’Sullivan, J O’Donovan 0-2 each, M O’Brien, A Fleming, K McCarthy 0-1 each.
FR O’NEILLS: P Colbert; A Kenneally, J. O’Mahony, T Motherway; K Hegarty, B Murphy, M O’Keeffe; G O’Leary, N Griffin; L Swayne, A Brett, P Butler; A Hayes, E McCarthy, L O’Driscoll.
Subs: P McMahon for Hayes (ht), J Millerick for McCarthy (50).
BARRYROE: G Keohane; T Carroll, G O’Leary, E O’Dwyer; G Coleman, B O’Brien, G Holland; T Harrington, J O’Donovan; K Griffin, A Fleming, D Harrington; D O’Sullivan, M O’Brien, C Cahalane.
Subs: P Collins for Cahalane (40), K McCarthy for Fleming (50).
Referee: D Daly (Brian Dillons).