The Barr’s twice held three-point leads with time running out, at the end of normal time and then with extra-time having almost elapsed, but on both occasions Nick’s found a goal.
When Mark Dooley touched Robert Brosnan’s delivery to the net in the 79th minute, it tied matters at 0-14 to 2-8, but the Barr’s deserve credit for the composed manner they fashioned a winner, Colin O’Sullivan setting up Robert O’Mahony for his fifth point.
St Finbarr’s manager Michael Slocum acknowledged good fortune played a part in determining their progression to the last 16 and condemning Nick’s to a meeting with Nemo Rangers or Castlehaven.
“Realistically, we probably didn’t deserve to win the game,” he said.
“Genuinely, Nick’s should have got something, none of us would have complained if it had finished level. We were haunted today.
“When they got the goal, I was saying to blow the whistle because I’d have taken the draw with a heart and a half at that stage, but Robbie kicked a great score then.”
When James Goggin profited from Jason Sexton’s excellent crossfield pass to point for the Togher side in the 41st minute, it opened up a comfortabl looking 0-9 to 0-4 lead.
Though they struggled to hit the heights until then, the Barr’s found their groove early in the second half, contrasting with their extreme wastefulness in front of goal in the opening period.
They racked up 11 wides by half-time as they struggled to get going, with Jason Sexton unlucky on a few occasions, though it had taken a good Alan Hosford interception to deny Ian Maguire an early goal.
The Barr’s led by 0-2 to 0-0 after a nondescript opening quarter when things were upped a notch as an incident involving Nick’s defender David Cunningham and Barr’s centre-forward Eoghan Finn sparked a mass brawl which then spawned a couple of battles on other fronts.
Cunningham and Finn were dismissed but the extra space didn’t have a marked effect, as points from Pa Wiley and Colin Lyons sandwiched Nick’s 26th-minute opener by Dean Brosnan to leave it 0-4 to 0-1 at the interval.
While a bright start by Nick’s yielded points from Aaron O’Brien, Dean Brosnan and Evan Kearney to level, the Barr’s running game began to click, with O’Mahony, sub Enda Dennehy and Maguire excelling as they constructed that five-point lead.
Had Dennehy not shot just wide after a good run on 42, the outcome would have been decided. But, buoyed by the let-off, Nick’s clawed their way back as Kearney and Barry O’Donovan cut the gap to three points with 13 minutes remaining.
Paul O’Brien’s long-range effort left it 0-9 to 0-7, but Sexton cancelled that out with a free and Nick’s needed a goal. They got their chance when Ross O’Dwyer barged Mark Dooley as a ball dropped in the Barr’s goalmouth, and Robert Brosnan fired the resultant penalty past Declan Murphy.
Four unanswered Barr’s points looked to have secured matters for them, but Kearney’s 79th-minute free gave Nick’s hope again before Dooley’s leveller. O’Mahony would break their hearts, however.
Scorers for St Finbarr’s: R O’Mahony 0-5, J Sexton 0-3fs, C Lyons, J Goggin, J Burns, P Wiley, P Murphy, R Leahy, E Dennehy 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Nicholas: M Dooley, R Brosnan (pen) 1-0 each, E Kearney 0-3 (2fs), Dean Brosnan 0-2, B O’Donovan, A O’Brien, P O’Brien 0-1 each.
ST FINBARR’S: D Murphy; A O’Connor, R O’Dwyer, G O’Connor; C Lyons, M Shields, J Goggin; J Burns, P Wiley; I Maguire, E Finn, P Murphy; J Sexton, C O’Sullivan, R O’Mahony.
Subs: E Dennehy for P Murphy (35), R Leahy (15th player, et), P Murphy for Wiley (et), S Ryan for O’Dwyer (66, inj), Wiley for Maguire (76, inj).
ST NICHOLAS: K McEnery; A Evans, D Óg O’Donovan, C Spain; A Hosford, D Cunningham, T Spain; David Brosnan, R Brosnan; R McCarthy Coade, P O’Brien, Dean Brosnan; E Kearney, B O’Donovan, A O’Brien.
Subs: M Dooley for David Brosnan (40), David Brosnan for R McCarthy Coade (50), K McCarthy Coade (15th player for et).
Referee: C McAllister (Aghada).