A disappointing game, with little free-flowing hurling and blighted by petty fouling and unnecessary flare-ups only came to life in the closing stages.
“I’m absolutely delighted we managed to pull through after such an unbelievable finish,” commented Bandon manager Joe McCarthy.
“There was some commitment out there today from both teams and, to be fair, we did very well to get out of this with a victory. A draw might have been a fair result but we’ll take it.”
Two major talking points from a poor first-half began with Bandon being reduced to 14 men when Charlie Dullea received a straight red card for an off-the-ball incident. That sending off preceded another controversial moment when Inniscarra edged in front courtesy of a 25th minute goal. Jason Hickey’s long delivery was flicked to the net by an in-rushing Conor Buckley despite the forward crashing into Bandon goalkeeper James McSweeney. Referee Nathan Wall allowed the goal to stand following deliberations with his umpires to leave the Muskerry side 1-3 to 0-5 ahead at the interval.
Bandon’s Ronan Crowley ended the afternoon with nine points and the corner-forward’s accurate free-taking kept the Carbery side in touch during an evenly-fought second period.
Cork inter-county player Mark Sugrue was introduced at the break but injury curtailed his influence, leaving Crowley to shoulder the majority of the scoring burden. Dan O’Connell was an influential figure for Inniscarra but squandered multiple free-taking opportunities that last year’s semi-finalists would live to regret.
Inniscarra led 1-7 to 0-9 late in the game but 14-man Bandon refused to accept defeat and dug deep in the closing minutes.
Inniscarra’s decision to deploy an extra man as a sweeper between the half and full-back lines failed to prevent a resurgent Bandon from pushing 0-11 to 1-7 in front when Darren Crowley landed a long range effort three minutes from the end. It took a converted Dan O’Connell free on the full time whistle to earn Inniscarra a draw and extra-time was required to decide the outcome.
Jonathan Olden and Kieran Rice raised consecutive white flags to push the Muskerry side in front, but Bandon, back to their full complement of 15 players, responded in devastating fashion. Three unanswered scores from Phillip Crowley, Ronan Crowley (free) and Darren Crowley saw the Carbery men take a one-point into the final period before Kieran Rice equalised. A dramatic finale concluded in a crescendo of excitement when sub Cian O’Mahony gained possession from an attempted Inniscarra clearance. O’Mahony turned a defender and bisected the posts with a tremendous point to win it for an ecstatic Bandon.
There was still time for a brief flare-up that threatened to spill over into something more serious and Inniscarra’s Kevin Burke was shown a red card.
Scorers for Bandon: R Crowley (0-9, 6 frees, 2 65’s), D Crowley (0-2), P Crowley, J Hickey, P Murphy, C O’Mahony (0-1 each).
Scorers for Inniscarra: D O’Connell (0-3, 2 frees), C Buckley (1-0), K Rice (0-2), S O’Callaghan, J Roche, C Casey, T Murphy, S O’Donoghue, J Olden (0-1 each).
BANDON: J McSweeney; M McNamara, J O’Donovan, J Burke; J Walsh, D Lucey, C Dullea; J Harrington, P Crowley; E O’Donovan, J Hickey, P Murphy; D Crowley, A Johnson, R Crowley.
Subs: M Sugrue for A Johnson (HT), A Johnson (ET), C O’Mahony for J Burke (66).
INNISCARRA: J O’Keefe; D O’Callaghan, K Burke, J O’Brien; T O’Regan, S Olden, J O’Callaghan; F Olden, T Murphy; C Buckley, D O’Connell, S O’Callaghan; C Casey, J Olden, J Roche.
Subs: S O’Donoghue for D O’Callaghan (39), K Rice for S O’Callaghan (50), S O’Callaghan for J Roche (64), P Farmer for T Murphy (74), J Roche for S O’Donoghue (74).
Referee: N Wall (Carrigaline).