Even Eire Óg referee Ted Hayes was on that wavelength, but drew late anger from the Clyda players and mentors for blowing the final whistle when Niall O’Mullane was about to pull the trigger for what might surely have been a winning point.
Perhaps Clyda had more to prove – beaten finalists for the last three years – but Kinsale, promoted from the lower intermediate grade last year, were up for it and got stuck in from the throw-in.
Both sides were intent on playing good football and although there were five bookings, four for Clyda, the game was played in a good spirit.
Kinsale made the better start, young Gavin Finn showing maturity in slotting over two frees. And it could have been better, Donal Murphy failing to finish off an early goal chance.
Slowly, but surely, though Clyda began to show their mettle and, with centre-back Padraig O’Mullane pulling the strings, they were soon ahead, Conor Flanagan, Gavin Carey and James Murphy with a free supplying the firepower.
Fittingly, though, Finn tied up the scores again with his third free conversion.
Despite the absence of Ray Carey, the Clyda defence stood up well and, playing two up front, got a huge boost in the 16th minute when Murphy fired over a terrific sideline point, followed by a smashing point from Flanagan.
Kinsale were well up for the battle though and, with Richard O’Sullivan and Niall McCarthy now more prominent with speedy raids through the Clyda rearguard, they struck for a cracking 20th minute goal.
Quick thinking by Alan Gould put Brian Coughlan through and his strength enabled him to power through and fire a rasping shot past Clyda keeper Cian Conway. But the Mourneabbey men had the perfect response seven minutes later, Niall O’Mullane and Murphy setting up Paudie Kissane and the Cork defender raced through before blasting an unstoppable shot past Craig Hackett.
It enabled Clyda to hold a slender 1-6 to 1-5 lead at the break, after Murphy and David Ward had exchanged late points, and a rousing second-half looked on the cards.
Or so we thought. With the third quarter bereft of ideas and constructive football, the contest took a huge step backwards, Clyda’s shooting appalling at times.
Conor O’Sullivan finally got the only point of the third quarter in the 43rd minute to push his side 1-7 to 1-5 clear. With the final quarter picking up again, good football and plenty urgency, Clyda still maintained their two point cushion with 10 minutes left after Cian Quigley for Kinsale and Murphy (free) exchanged points.
But they couldn’t hold onto their lead as first Donal Murphy made it a one point game in the 52nd minute and three minutes from time Finn slotted over his fifth free to send the game to a replay.
Scorers for Clyda Rovers: J. Murphy 0-4 (0-3 frees, 0-1 sideline), P. Kissane 1-0, C. Flanagan 0-2, G. Carey and C. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Kinsale scorers: G. Finn 0-5 (frees), B. Coughlan 1-0, D. Ward, C. Quigley and D. Murphy 0-1 each.
CLYDA ROVERS: C. Conway; K. Fitzgerald, J. Fitzgerald, C. Kenny; P. Kissane, P. O’Mullane, O. O’Hanlon; F. O’Shea, J. O’Sullivan; G. Carey, C. Flanagan. C. O’Sullivan; J. Murphy, J. O’Hanlon, N. O’Mullane.
Subs: C. Lane for J. O’Hanlon (37m), M. O’Brien for P. O’Mullane (48), C. Buckley for J. O’Sullivan (52), D. O’Brien for C. O’Sullivan (58).
KINSALE: C. Hackett; W. O’Hea, M. O’Sullivan, N. McCarthy; R. O’Sullivan, C. Quigley, J. Wright; B. Coughlan, D. Coughlan; D. Ward, A; Gould, D. Murphy; C. O’Brien, B. Gray, G. Finn.
Subs: M. Scully for O’Hea (35m), C. Lane for Gould (48), S., O’Brien for Murphy (55), N. Stanley for Gray (60).
Referee: T. Hayes (Eire Og).