The winners kicked 13 wides and the concession of goals at critical stages meant the outcome was in doubt until the final seconds.
Fermoy raced 1-5 to 0-1 ahead after 20 minutes – Ronan O’Callaghan converting a penalty, but Ballinora finished the half with goals from Michael Murphy (penalty) and Darragh O’Neill to trail (2-1 to 1-5).
Fermoy were better on the restart and a second goal from Martin Brennan put them five points clear. But, with Michael Hodge prominent at midfield, the momentum quickly switched back to Ballinora and their efforts were rewarded with a Conor Murphy goal. Once more, Fermoy regrouped through points from Brennan, Darragh O’Carroll and Kieran Morrison. With normal time elapsed, Fermoy led by five points but Ballinora stormed back again. A fourth major from Gary O’Halloran left just two points in it. Conor Brosnan did have a shot at goal in the dying seconds, but goalkeeper Ivan O’Callaghan saved, to the relief of Fermoy.
Scorers for Fermoy: M Brennan (1-1), R O’Callaghan (1-1, one pen, one free), R O’Hagan (0-3, two frees), P de Roiste (0-2), B O’Sullivan, D O’Carroll, K Morrison and J Hutchings (0-1 each).
Scorers for Ballinora: M Murphy (1-3, one pen, two frees), D O’Neill, C Murphy and G O’Halloran (1-0 each).
FERMOY: I O’Callaghan; A Baragry, J Daly, B O’Callaghan; S Shanahan, T Clancy (Capt), P Murphy; J Hutchings, R O’Hagan; P de Roiste, D O’Carroll, B O’Sullivan; M Brennan, R O’Callaghan, K Morrison.
Subs: J Campion for R O’Hagan (48), A Ahern for B O’Sullivan (58), D Conran for B O’Callaghan (59).
BALLINORA: E Walsh; D O’Neill, G O’Halloran (Capt), T Crotty; M Lordan, D O’Neill, B Crowley; M Hodge, T McGrath; I Wycherley, C Brosnan, C Murphy; M Murphy, D O’Neill, P Fitton.
Subs: N Collins for B Crowley (26), S Lucey for M Lordan (53), E Lucey for I Wycherley (53), J O’Regan for T McGrath (60).
Referee: C Ó Murchú (Brian Dillons).