Unexpected maybe, but this smashing victory at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night was very much deserved, a dogged performance spearheaded by the goal-taking ability of Mark and David O’Sullivan seeing them through despite a belated comeback by disappointing Aghada.
A 60th-minute goal by John Looney, his second of the game, forced Dripsey into desperate defence in injury-time, but the winners held out and there can be no disputing the merit of victory after they had recovered from a terrible start. Looney smashed home a goal for Aghada after 50 seconds and Aaran Stafford nearly got in for a second 30 seconds later. The early flurry suggested that Aghada might well cruise effortlessly into the decider.
But the east Cork side squandered a succession of scoring chances, shooting eight wides in the first half, a trend that continued after the break. In total, they shot 16 chances off target against seven for Dripsey and that was crucial in a game of tight margins.
Dripsey threw down the gauntlet with a third-minute goal from full-forward Mark O’Sullivan, who also added a point to the one scored by Diarmuid O’Riordan. O’Sullivan laid down a further marker with his second goal in six minutes. 2-2 to 1-0 for Dripsey and game on.
Stafford and Will Leahy cut the deficit for the losers, but Dripsey still managed to lead 2-5 to 1-5 at the interval.
After that it became a dogfight, but Dripsey got some further breathing space when David O’Sullivan beat Martin Day in the Aghada goal.
From there to the finish, Leahy and Looney combined to give Aghada a sporting chance, but O’Riordan, with two points, and Aidan Murray contributed the scores to keep jubilant Dripsey on course for the decider where they will meet the winners of the other semi-final between Fr O’Neill’s and Charleville.
M. O’Sullivan (2-2); David O’Sullivan (1-0); D O’Riordan (0-4); M O’Riordan, A Murray, J O’Riordan (0-1 each).
J Looney (2-1); W Leahy (0-6, 1 free, 1 ’65); A Stafford 0-2.
A Buckley, B Kelleher, L Murphy, D Buckley, S O’Riordan, J Carey, A Murray, S Murray, M O’Riordan, S Burke, D O’Riordan (captain), C Hayes, Dean O’Sullivan, M O’Sullivan, P O’Riordan.
David O’Sullivan for Dean O’Sullivan (30), J O’Riordan for S Murray (50), D Buckley for S O’Riordan (54).
M Day, D Rice, T O’Neill, E Leahy, B Hennessy, M Russell, J O’Donoghue, A O’Connell, S O’Keeffe (captain), T Hartnett, W Leahy, A Stafford, J Looney, C Terry, C Fleming.
J O’Connor for T O’Neill, P O’Neill for C Terry (both half time), T O’Keeffe for C Fleming (38), E Healy for A O’Connell (45).
J Larkin (Douglas)