In both 1996 and 2003, they had reached what was then the IFC final seeking to make the top grade, but against Clyda Rovers and Ilen Rovers respectively they had underperformed on the big day.
When St Michael’s attacker Mark Drummond picked up possession 12 yards or so from goal with five minutes left in Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday, the Carrigaline faithful must have feared that it would be third time unlucky.
The score at that stage was 0-11 to 0-10 for them but only at the very start of the contest had a lead of more than one point been held. It was the prototypical game where a goal would be key.
Michael Mulconroy’s run had brought him deep into Carrigaline territory, and though possession was stripped from him, the ball fell to Drummond.
Everyone expected to see the net dancing, but instead the shot hit the post and Killian Forbes — one of the survivors from the 2003 loss — was able to bring the ball to safety.
Carrigaline worked the ball up the field, forcing a free on the right. Teenager Brian Coakley, who had played such a big part in helping the club win the Premier 1 MFC last year, showed no signs of nerves as he sent the ball between the uprights for his third point and the Carrigaline faithful dared to dream.
Paul Cronin responded with his sixth point of the game and, given the nature of the game, a draw must have been generally anticipated.
Carrigaline’s Peter Murphy almost made things safe as he came close to diverting a David Drake free to the net but Michael’s came again and the ball was worked to sub Tadhg Deasy.
Unfortunately for him, however, his effort was always heading wide and Carrigaline were able to see out time, Peter Murphy taking the ball into the corner and winning a free. He was also a part of the 2003 team, while his brother Nicholas had played then and in 1996.
The appreciation for his level of involvement was made clear as the rest of the team serenaded him in the dressing room with a chant of “One Nicholas Murphy”.
He certainly played his part in taking them to the promised land, not least winning the free which Drake converted to make it 0-11 to 0-10. The team ethic was more than evident, with their 12 points coming from eight different scorers while a defence which hadn’t conceded a goal all championship remained resolute.
It was no surprise, though, that this was close all through. Michael’s weren’t as effervescent in attack as at other stages during the championship but nevertheless posed enough of a threat, with Mulconroy setting the tone in the first half.
While they spotted Carrigaline that two-point head-start, once they restored parity there was little to choose, with neither side necklacing three consecutive points together at any stage in the first half.
The same pattern pertained at the outset of the second half.
Nicholas Murphy opened the scoring but Michael’s responded through Cronin and Eric Hegarty. Then David Drake, with a fine effort, tied before Simon O’Brien’s first touch put Carrig ahead again.
They couldn’t pull clear, though and Michael’s stayed in touch, Shane O’Keeffe levelling before Cronin’s fifth free put them ahead again. Kevin Kavanagh’s marauding run saw captain Barry O’Keeffe, a panel member in ’03, equalise at 0-9 each and then Coakley should have profited from Nicholas Murphy’s pass, shooting wide.
When Michael’s sub Alan Nolan announced his arrival by pointing, it put them ahead again, but for the last time. A Carrig replacement, Shane Griffin replied and then Drake put them in front.
Drummond’s goal chance could have dashed their hopes, but their luck was in and senior football now awaits.
D Drake 0-3, B Coakley 0-3 (two frees) each, N Murphy, K Kavanagh, B O’Keeffe, B Pope, S Griffin, S O’Brien 0-1 each.
P Cronin 0-6 (frees), M Mulconroy 0-2, E Hegarty (free), A Nolan, S O’Keeffe, E Hegarty (free) 0-1 each.
S Mellett; K Forbes, P Murphy, P Ronayne; C McSweeney, C Barry, E O’Connor; N Murphy, E Kavanagh; E Ryle, B O’Keeffe, K Kavanagh; B Pope, B Coakley, D Drake.
S Griffin for P Murphy (half-time), S O’Brien for Ryle (40), D Griffin for McSweeney (43), M O’Reilly for E Kavanagh (50), P Murphy for Pope (54).
A Deasy; C O’Shaughnessy, R Dineen, D O’Shea; E Hegarty, M Ryan, A O’Callaghan; P Doyle, S O’Keeffe; D Meaney, M Mulconroy, M Drummond; K Hegarty, E Buckley, P Cronin.
A Murphy for K Hegarty (40), A Nolan for E Hegarty (47), T Deasy for Meaney (54), E Hegarty for Doyle (56).
D O’Leary (Kiskeam).