Championship survival was the prize on offer at Clonakilty yesterday and Dohenys know just how close they came to falling through the trap door and into a relegation scrap.
Successive defeats by Skibbereen and Bishopstown had moved the Dunmanway club into a vulnerable position and when James Bermingham sounded the full-time whistle, there were no over joyous celebrations, just an overwhelming sense of relief to have survived.
For St. Nick’s, they once more find themselves at the cliff edge of senior football and unless a marked improvement is seen come the relegation play-off, they might not escape the fall.
Proceedings had entered the final quarter when the electronic scoreboard decided it had had enough for the day, although, truth be told, its presence was no longer required. And though Dohenys led only by the minimum at that juncture, they were building a level of momentum that took them six clear by the finish.
Ahead 0-7 to 0-5 at the interval, Dohenys further stretched their advantage at the change of ends with points from Alan Sheehan (free) and Jerry McCarthy. Jerry O’Mahony’s troops appeared to have finally hit their stride following an error-ridden opening 30, when they squandered a whole host of scoring opportunities.
It was clear right from the off that the Dohenys front six had the better of St. Nicks’ rearguard, but were unable to make it count on the scoreboard. Tentativeness in front of goal, impatience at the back and a failure to take the game by the scruff of the neck had cost them, though not fatally.
In any event, their early second-half spurt signalled a corner had been turned. St. Nick’s, having failed to score from play by this point, desperately needed to issue some measure of a response to stay alive, not only in the game but in the championship at large.
On 35 minutes their prayers were answered. David Brosnan supplied the delivery and Paul O’Brien rose highest to fist past Darragh Farr in the Dohenys goal. Game on.
Those who had spent the first-half watching the Ulster final from the bar had now emerged into the stand. Spectators were finally getting some value for money and so proceedings in Clones would have to wait.
O’Brien’s major had the desired effect, and in the ensuing passage of play Barry O’Donovan kicked their first point from open play to level matters, 1-6 to 0-9.
Just as quickly as the pendulum had swung in St. Nicks’ favour, it would oscillate back to Dohenys. Alan Sheehan (free), Mark Quinn and Stephen Collins all found the range to edge them three clear and while Robert Brosnan kicked his fourth free subsequently, it provided but momentary respite from the Dohenys onslaught, with Pat Collins and Patrick McCarthy adding their names to the scoresheet.
Turning for home, Dohenys wrapped up the win when Alan Sheehan converted from the penalty spot following a foul on the lively Mark Quinn. Centre-back Sheehan finished with 1-4 to his credit and was a key factor in nullifying the threat of the St. Nick’s offensive unit. The 1-1 conceded from play throughout the hour speaks volumes of the frugality of the Dohenys rearguard.
Credit to St. Nick’s though who never threw in the towel, but they could only manage one white flag in the closing stages.
Scorers for Dohenys: A Sheehan (1-4, 0-4 frees, 1-0 pen), M Quinn (0-3, 0-1 free) , K O’Connell, T Collins, M Murphy, P Collins, S Collins, J McCarthy, P McCarthy (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Nick’s: B O’Donovan (0-4, 0-3 frees), R Brosnan (0-4, 0-4 frees), P O’Brien (1-0).
DOHENYS: D Farr; B O’Donovan, T O’Donovan, D Rice; M Murphy, A Sheehan, T Collins; P Collins, D Collins; S Collins, J McCarthy, P McCarthy; M Quinn, D O’Donovan, K O’Connell.
Subs: M Farr for D O’Donovan (47 mins).
ST. NICK’S: K McEnery; K Spain, D Óg O’Donovan, A Evans; A Hosford, P Cunningham, T Spain; R Brosnan, P O’Brien; G Callinan, David Brosnan, Dean Brosnan; D Busteed, M Dooley, B O’Donovan.
Subs: B Moylan for Evan (22 mins), C Kearney for Hosford (47 mins).
Referee: James Bermingham.