Killeagh and Courcey Rovers didn’t reach the same heights, but that won’t bother Courceys, whose crisp, efficient interplay always looked likely to see them home.
Killeagh shrugged off the loss of Joe Deane through injury before throw-in to settle quickly into the game, with Michael Byrne and Daniel Walsh pointing in the opening minutes into the breeze.
It was a false dawn, however. Courceys struck for a fine goal on five minutes: Cian Lordan soloed through the right-hand side of the Killeagh defence, shipping some punishment along the way — referee Kevin Murphy played a good advantage — before finishing superbly to the net from a tight angle.
Philip O’Neill responded for Killeagh, but then the East Cork men’s radar malfunctioned totally, as they struck a string of wides, six in all, while an efficient Courceys unit rattled over points through Gary Minihane, Daire and Cian Lordan and Gavin Moloney.
With Vince Hurley marshalling their rearguard well, Courceys were comfortable and by the 20th minute, they were 1-5 to 0-3 ahead.
Andrew Walsh finally ended Killeagh’s scoring drought, but Killian Moloney and Daire Lordan tacked on two more to make it 1-7 to 0-4.
With two minutes to go Courceys struck again: Seamus Hayes stole the ball cleverly from a Killeagh defender and advanced down the left before burying a fine goal.
Although Brendan Barry managed a point in response for Killeagh, Courceys were 2-7 to 0-7 at half-time and were well worth their lead.
Sean Lordan soloed upfield to make it 2-8 as soon as the ball was thrown in, but Killeagh’s response was emphatic.
Sean Long won possession from a puck-out and carried the ball up the centre before goaling from the 21-metre line: 2-8 to 1-7.
Courceys then started to hit wides — three in a row — before Long added a point to leave a goal between them with 25 minutes to play. However, neither side seized the initiative, and there was a fallow period with no scoring until Daire Lordan pointed a Courceys free on 41 minutes.
Killeagh benefited from moving Michael Byrne to the half-forward line but they still couldn’t score, hitting three wides in a row before Killian Moloney moved Courceys to 2-10 on 46 minutes with a long-range effort.
Eoghan Keniry’s free on 50 minutes was matched by a Seamus Hayes effort, keeping Courceys five points ahead. Vince Hurley then placed Daire Lordan, who in turn found Gary Minihane, and his point put six between them.
A minute later Daire Lordan’s free made it a seven-point lead with seven minutes left, and Killeagh’s cause looked hopeless.
Keniry added a free but Killeagh desperately needed goals. Courceys captain Stephen Nyhan had to smother a loose ball that could have given Killeagh a sniff of goal; in the same passage of play, Killeagh’s Daniel Walsh got a second yellow for a wild pull and was sent off.
The men in green and white didn’t give up, and Padraic Carroll’s stinging shot drew a fine save from Stephen Nyhan.
They also won a late 21-metre free and brought keeper Bernard Rochford up to take it, but the shot whistled over the bar; from the puck out Gavin Moloney added yet another Courceys score. Joe Budds’ late, late Killeagh goal was purely academic.
Scorers for Killeagh: S. Long 1-1; J. Budds 1-0; A. Walsh (0-1 f) and E. Keniry (0-2fs) 0-2 each; P. Carroll, M. Byrne, P. O’Neill, B. Barry, D. Walsh and B. Rochford (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Courcey Rovers: D. Lordan 0-5 (0-3 fs); S. Hayes and C. Lordan 1-1 each; Gavin Moloney, G. Minihane and K. Moloney 0-2 each and S. Lordan 0-1.
KILLEAGH: B. Rochford, C. Fogarty, P. O’Brien, M. Murphy, J. O’Connor, B. Barry D. Walsh, P. McGrath, P. O’Neill, K. Lane (c), P. Carroll, A. Walsh, S. Long, M. Byrne, J. Budds.
Subs: E. Keniry for M. Murphy, HT; D. Cahill for P. O’Neill, 46.
COURCEY ROVERS: S. Nyhan (c), C.Daly, Gary Moloney, J. Duggan, S. Lordan, V. Hurley, T. Lordan, K. Moloney, Gavin Moloney, S. Moloney, J. Murphy, D. Lordan, S. Hayes, G. Minihane, C. Lordan.
Subs: D. Murphy for S. Moloney, 40; J. O’Reilly for J. Murphy, 50.
Referee: K. Murphy (Nemo Rangers).