Last year’s triumph over Ilen Rovers was their first since 2007, and last night’s clash with Douglas at Páirc Uí Rinn looked close to a 50-50 call, but in the end it was very comfortable.
Six points separated the sides at the end, and then only after Douglas’s Finbarr Desmond got a late goal. Ballincollig never trailed, man of the match Ciarán O’Sullivan putting them in front straight from the throw-in.
The Mid-Cork side had 14 wides, and the eight of those that came in the first half looked costly when Douglas began the second period well. Having trailed by 1-7 to 0-4, the introductions of David Hanrahan and Alan Cadogan – who didn’t start as Cork U21 commitments had precluded them from playing a league game recently – gave them impetus in the middle and within nine minutes they had reeled off three unanswered points.
However an O’Sullivan point, after Odhrán Mulrooney had done excellently to deny Cian Dorgan a goal chance, was immediately followed by Dave Tobin’s goal for a 2-8 to 0-7 lead, and Douglas were not going to overturn that in the final quarter.
Ballincollig’s Patrick Kelly, playing his first championship game since last August’s All-Ireland semi-final loss to Donegal, did not show any ill-effects of the hip injury which kept him out of Cork’s league campaign.
Powered by O’Sullivan and Seán Kiely, Ballincollig had the edge early on as Douglas – who missed the injured Eoin Cadogan – struggled in defence.
A pair of quick points from Darren Murphy and Kiely put Ballincollig 0-6 to 0-3 in front, and then O’Sullivan struck for a goal.
After Patrick Kelly had made a good block on Ray Keating, John Kelly and Dave Tobin worked the ball to the midfielder and he produced an excellent shot past Brian Boyle.
John Miskella extended the lead to seven, and while Brian Cuthbert responded for Douglas before the break, they faced an uphill battle on the turnaround.
The substitutions, and the releasing of Eoin Cotter to centre-back, helped them, but their play was still too lateral, resulting in long-range wayward point efforts while other balls were dropping into David Lordan’s hands.
Ballincollig were wavering, but Patrick Kelly and O’Sullivan ensured that they never panicked, and Tobin’s goal clinched things. When Patrick Kelly found his brother John with a lovely pass, he could have shot but instead opted to pass to Tobin, who had an easy task to finish.
Patrick Kelly and Tobin added further points and Miskella’s dismissal for a second booking was not overly damaging as Douglas did not look like mounting a comeback.
Desmond’s goal saved some face, but they will need to improve for their second-round assignment against St Vincent’s.
Scorers for Ballincollig: C O’Sullivan 1-2, D Tobin 1-1, S Kiely 0-2 (0-1 45), G Durrant (0-1 free), J Kelly, P Kelly, J Miskella, D Murphy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Douglas: F Desmond 1-0, M Harrington 0-2 (frees), B Cuthbert, P Beale, S Collins, K Murphy, A Cadogan 0-1 each.
BALLINCOLLIG: D Lordan; D Murphy, S O’Donoghue, L Prendergast; N Galvin, J Miskella, D Kerstein; C O’Sullivan, S Kiely; N O’Toole, P Kelly, G Durrant; J Kelly, K Kelleher, D Tobin.
Subs: C Dorgan for K Kelleher (11, injured), C Collins for Kerstein (41), R Noonan for O’Toole (49).
DOUGLAS: B Boyle; J Collins, E Cotter, R Keating; I Lucey, J Davis, J Lane; O Mulrooney, ABarry; B Cuthbert, M Harrington, P Beale; S Collins, F Desmond.
Subs: A Cadogan for Cuthbert, D Hanrahan for Barry, C Hogan for Keating (all half-time), S McCarthy for Cuthbert (53).
Referee: C Lane (Banteer).