“It worked, for a change!” said relieved Na Piarsaigh coach Sean Guiheen of the substitution. “Ian McDonnell had huge potential as an underage player. He’s working hard on his fitness at the moment but we’ve always felt he would be a real danger on the edge of the square. He has a great hand, skill to burn. We decided to take the gamble, took off Stephen O’Sullivan, and thank God it worked.”
How it worked. In what had been an evenly-balanced contest, the sides level on no fewer than 12 occasions, it took that moment of magic to throw up a winner and it had all the elements spoken of by Guiheen — great catch under pressure by McDonald of a high lobbing ball, great skill to make the space for the shot, the experienced Shay Bowen with no chance.
Relief for Na Piarsaigh, into the hat for the third round draw and senior status secured for another season, while Erin’s Own are forced down the back road, taking on the Newtown/Ballymartle losers in round two.
Na Piarsaigh had the opening score, a Cian Buckley point, but four-in-a-row by Erin’s Own (two each Eoghan Murphy and Mossie Carroll) had the champions of 2006 and ’07 three in front after 15 minutes. Then came the first goal, Na Piarsaigh wing-forward Pa O’Rourke pouncing on a rare error by keeper Bowen to tie the game.
From there to the break it was tit-for-tat, five times the sides exchanging points (Na Piarsaigh guilty of conceding a number of soft frees to Eoghan Murphy, Shay Bowen making up for his goal error with a 100m artillery shot, leaving it 1-6 to 0-9 at the break.
The Na Piarsaigh half-back line was Cork’s Christopher Joyce and former stalwarts John Gardiner and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín. It was the latter two though, catching the eye in that opening half, Joyce seeing very little action down his wing.
A switch to midfield worked wonders, however, and on the changeover it was the youngster opening his shoulders and with Cian O’Mahony also playing well, Na Piarsaigh took over this sector. In the 54th minute they were two points ahead, 1-11 to 0-12, the end in sight, though in truth the tempo of what had been a fine game had now dropped considerably.
Cue the Erin’s Own goal, and a soft concession it was, Mark Collins conjuring something from nothing in broken play around the edge of the square, beating the impressive Alan Keating from a narrow angle. This was followed almost immediately by an Eoghan Murphy point and suddenly it was Erin’s Own with the two-point lead.
However, points from sub Keith Buckley and Joyce took the game into extra-time, 1-13 apiece.
The pace picked up again in the first half of extra-time, Na Piarsaigh outscoring Erin’s Own four points to three, but both keepers called into action. Into the second half and after a further three minutes it was Na Piarsaigh with a further two points, putting them three ahead (1-19 to 1-16) and seemingly finally in control.
Again the game took a turn, a high shot from the left wing by Erin’s Own’s Mossie Carroll deceiving Alan Keating and dropping just under the crossbar, tying it up again. Given his earlier heroics, it would have been cruel on Keating had that cost Na Piarsaigh the game, but then came McDonnell and that late goal. Man of the match? That, says Guiheen, would be Na Piarsaigh full-back Darren Mannix.
“Darren is an older fella but he was injured for a long time, is only just back but he hurled like a 20-yr-old, an outstanding game.”
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: P O’Rourke 1-2; P Goold 0-5 (2f); I McDonnell 1-0; C O’Mahony 0-3; E Moynihan 0-3 (3f); C Buckley 0-2; C Joyce 0-2; K Buckley 0-2.
Scorers for Erin’s Own: E Murphy 0-8 (6f); M Carroll 1-2; M Collins 1-0; K Murphy 0-2; S Bowen 0-2 (2f); S Murphy, J Sheehan, 0-1 each.
NA PIARSAIGH: A Keating; A Brady, D Mannix, E Moynihan; C Joyce, J Gardiner, S Óg Ó hAilpín; C O’Mahony, A O Cairealláin; P O’Rourke, E McCarthy, P Gould; C Buckley, S O’Sullivan, P Cummin.
Subs: K Buckley (McCarthy 30); Adam Dennehy (Ó Cairealláin 41); Anthony Dennehy (Cummin 50); I McDonnell (O’Sullivan 70).
ERIN’S OWN: S Bowen; S Murphy, P Fitzgerald, Killian Murphy; B Clifford, S Cronin, N Scanlon; Kieran Murphy, A Bowen; C Coakley, M Carroll, J Sheehan; P Kelly, E Murphy, M Collins.
Subs: C O’Callaghan (Kelly 54); C Dooley (Coakley 70); A Power (A Bowen 72); P Kelly (Cronin inj. 78).
Referee: C Lane (Banteer).