First up in Michael O’Brien’s post-match reflection was Miskella’s dismissal on 26 minutes. The former Cork footballer was adjudged to have swung his elbow at St Finbarr’s corner-back Paul Kennedy and the Ballincollig boss slammed the decision of referee Conor Lane as “outrageous”.
“It was absolutely harsh. I don’t know what was going on in his [the referee’s] mind,” said the winning manager. Another influential Ballincollig figure was removed to the sideline on 42 minutes, Patrick Kelly emptying the tank in his first competitive outing since Cork’s league defeat away to Derry on April 5.
The centre-forward pulled the attacking strings in Ballincollig’s early onslaught, but was redeployed to full-forward approaching the break having picked up a knock. “We knew there was only forty minutes in him and he gave everything. Even at the start of the second-half, he won a few balls which we got points off. It is his calf, still. There is a couple of weeks in it.”
O’Brien was somewhat disappointed by the unanswered 1-5 struck by their opponents in the closing stages, opting instead to glean positives from a superb opening half an hour of football.
“The first-half we played exceptional. We probably should have been four or five points more up with the amount of possession we had. It was always going to be a different game with 14 men, especially in a big pitch like this. The players dug deep, particularly at the end when we were under the cosh and there were tired legs.”
This contest was effectively done and dusted by half-time, the county champions carving a 1-10 to 0-4 lead.
O’Brien’s charges wasted little time in forging clear - John Kelly (free), Cian Kiely (0-2) and Miskella splitting the posts inside the opening eight minutes. Corner-back Shane Murphy poured forward at every turn, the speed and panache of George Durrant and Patrick Kelly’s movement already causing untold problems for the underdogs.
Durrant set-up midfielder Ciaran O’Sullivan for Ballincollig’s fifth and when Dorgan swivelled inside full-back Ross O’Dwyer, their lead stood at six. And still the Barr’s could not locate the target. The city outfit eventually made their presence felt on the scoreboard 18 minutes in, Eoghan Finn obliging.
Shane Murphy ran half the length of the field in the ensuing passage of play, but kicked wide when either a goal, or at least a point, looked certain. The subsequent kick-out went awry, allowing Miskella notch his second.
The former Cork footballer saw red thereafter, but the champions continued unperturbed – Kiely again on the mark and Patrick Kelly pouncing for the contest’s opening major on 29 minutes. Cian Madden (two frees) and Finn pared back the margin early in the second-half; Dorgan, Kiely and the Kelly brothers, Patrick and John, quickly restoring Ballincollig’s 10-point lead.
The substituting of Patrick Kelly, a black card to JP Murphy and a collective easing on the throttle handed the initiative to Tony Leahy’s side - Colm Lyons, Finn and Madden (0-2) stringing four points without reply.
On 58 minutes, the deficit was reduced to 1-14 to 1-11 – Roy Leahy goaling after Eoghan Finn’s shot cannoned off the crossbar. Finn’s sixth white flag of the tie ensured a tense finish. Shaun Kiely, though, settled the issue with their first score in 17 minutes.
C Kiely (0-4); P Kelly (1-1); J Kelly (0-2 frees), C Dorgan (0-1 free, 0-3 each); J Miskella (0-2); S Kiely, C O’Sullivan (0-1 each)
E Finn (0-6); C Madden (0-4, 0-3 frees); R Leahy (1-0); J Burns, C Lyons (0-1 each).
J Gibbons; S Murphy, L Jennings, N Galvin; JP Murphy, S O’Donoghue, C Moore; S Kiely, C O’Sullivan; G Durrant, P Kelly, C Kiely; J Kelly, C Dorgan, J Miskella.
A Donovan for P Kelly (42 mins), D Kirstein for JP Murphy (47, bc) D Murphy for Moore (51, bc), R Noonan for J Kelly (62).
J McDonnell; P Kennedy, R O’Dwyer, G O’Connor; C Holland, M Shields, A O’Connor; J Burns, C Lyons; D O’Brien, R Leahy, E Finn; C Madden, C O’Sullivan, C Walsh.
E Dennehy for O’Brien (19 mins), E Comyns for O’Dwyer (HT), D Quinn for Holland (HT), A Lyne for O’Sullivan (49), N Horgan for Lyons (50, bc)
C Lane (Banteer).