It is unlikely they expected this margin of victory though. While they were deserving winners, the St Michael’s lead was only 1-4 to 0-3 after 42 minutes. However, in a devastating final 15 minutes, they got the better of Ballinora 2-8 to a single point.
The Mid Cork side will find this result hard to stomach, especially as they appeared to be getting back on track following a good result over Mayfield. And to compound matters, Conor Brosnan and Mark Kelleher were sent off after receiving second yellow cards in the final 10 minutes. But the game was already beginning to slip away at this stage.
The first half was scrappy, with only one point from play, credited to St Michael’s wing-back Andrew Murphy. The half-time score was 1-3 to 0-2 – the goal courtesy of Eric Hegarty from the penalty spot after a foul on Eoghan Buckley.
St Michael’s could have been further ahead but denied twice by Ballinora goalkeeper Eoin Walsh.
Ballinora had their share of possession too, but their finishing let them down.
Buckley and Ben Ahern swapped frees after the restart, as St Michael’s Conor Kilcoyne was forced off with a leg injury.
Another unhappy statistic for Ballinora was that they didn’t score from play and only one player got on the board — all Ahern frees. They worked hard in defence but four points in a seven-minute spell pushed St Michael’s 1-8 to 0-3 ahead before Brosnan was sent off on 50 minutes. Buckley and Eric Hegarty landed some fine points from frees.
Buckley then got through for a goal, low to the corner. This was followed by two quick-fire points from Murphy and Steven McCarthy. Behind 2-10 to 0-3, Ballinora then had Kelleher dismissed with three minutes remaining.
St Michael’s drove forward once more with Mark Ryan rattling the net. In added time now, Ahern kicked over a Ballinora free but St Michael’s rounded off their evening with two more white flags, from Michael Mulconroy and substitute Mark Drummond.
Scorers for St Michael’s: E Buckley (3fs), E Hegarty (1-0p, 3fs) 1-3 each, M Ryan 1-0, A Murphy 0-2, W Kennedy, S McCarthy, M Drummond, M Mulconroy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ballinora: B Ahern 0-4fs.
ST MICHAEL’S: B Kavanagh; C O’Shaughnessy, R Dineen, D Crowley; C Kilcoyne, A O’Driscoll, A Murphy; S O’Sullivan, W Kennedy; E Buckley, E Hegarty, M Mulconroy; S McCarthy, M Ryan, D Cremin.
Subs: E O’Mara for C Kilcoyne (34 inj), S O’Keeffe for D Cremin (45), J Heylin for C O’Shaughnessy, R Downey for W Kennedy (both 57), M Drummond for E Buckley (60).
BALLINORA: E Walsh; David O’Neill, G O’Halloran, N Collins; M Kelleher, C O’Connor, T McGrath; M Hodge, A O’Neill; B Ahern, C Brosnan, I Wycherley; M Murphy, C Murphy, P Fitton.
Subs: Darragh O’Neill for I Wycherley (45), C Lucey for M Murphy (51), T Twomey for G O’Halloran (57).
Referee: E Sheehy (Newcestown).