The club has been bolstered by players returning from abroad as well as the physio’s table with four players making their first start of the year on Saturday, but Ballincollig provided vigorous resistance.
David Bowen struck an excellent point to level four minutes from time, but the tiring underdogs had few options on the bench while Carrigaline saw out the hour with points from Kevin Kavanagh and Rob O’Shea, who has contributed 10-14 across four games, to seal the double-survival.
“We’re thrilled to stay up,” said Kavanagh, who took the game by the scruff of the neck in the final quarter, “we’ll drive on next year and hopefully we won’t be in this situation again.”
Kavanagh was one of the 11 Carrigaline men to be involved in both play-offs, but while the Carrigdhoun club can use the past month as a springboard for the future, Ballincollig were left to contemplate life in a lower division.
“Next year is to the back of the mind at the moment,” said a heart-broken Bowen, “but when we go back training again, it’s going to be hard to pick things up.
“But we have to; this club is too proud to be down there.”
Bowen was the outstanding player throughout, slotting five points from play and winning four frees. After O’Shea juggled the ball into the Ballincollig net seven minutes in to help Carrigaline to a five-point lead, Bowen’s contribution was instrumental in Ballincollig reeling off six points without reply to lead.
Noel Galvin’s influence by keeping O’Shea quiet after the goal was another key factor, while Finbarr Kelly had to be called on three times in the lead-up to the interval, producing a string of full- stretch saves.
With O’Shea peripheral, David Drake took the scoring burden upon himself to send the sides in level, 1-7 to 0-10. The sides traded scores in a nervy yet intense second-half, but the stalemate ended with a few late moments of inspiration, with Carrigaline, again, prevailing.
Scorers for Carrigaline: R O’Shea (1-4, 2fs, 1 65), D Drake (0-5, 1f), K Kavanagh (0-2), M O’Sullivan, S O’Brien, W O’Brien (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ballincollig: C Dorgan (0-7, 5fs), D Bowen (0-5), C O’Sullivan (0-2), N Allen, J Miskella (0-1 each).
CARRIGALINE: R Foster; J Cowhig, P Murphy, K O’Connell; C Hurley, J Moran, K Kavanagh; C Barry, B O’Keeffe; N Coakley, R O’Shea, S O’Brien; M O’Sullivan, N Murphy, D Drake.
Subs: S Conlan for N Murphy (19), R Keohane for O’Connell (36), W O’Brien for O’Sullivan (45), C MacSweeney for O’Keeffe (47).
BALLINCOLLIG: F Kelly; N Galvin, I Coughlan, JP Murphy; D Collins, C Harris, S Murphy; C O’Sullivan, C Moore; N Allen, S O’Donoghue, D Bowen; C Dorgan, J Miskella, R Doherty.
Referee: J Larkin (Douglas).