Fermoy – the favourites, the front-runners, the team that racked up 5-11 against the same opposition last year – playing the second-half of a county final in their own half.
One score, at any stage of that second-half, would’ve won them the game, and the Championship.
One score in those 32 minutes would’ve been the knock-out blow that justified a year’s worth of training. But it never came.
Mayfield, who trailed 0-7 to 0-2 at half-time, couldn’t seem to close that gap by so much as a point, leaving an exasperated crowd to watch a stalemate. However, Mayfield didn’t punch themselves out and two excellent Paul Condon points in the 51st minute burst the dam and put Mayfield, remarkably, within one score.
Nicky Kelly missed a goal chance (the only one created by either side) to level the game but a David O’Neill point and two Condon frees, the latter coming after Darragh O’Carroll was unlucky to handle the ball on the ground in the final minute of stoppage time, rescued a draw.
Shane O’Donovan had a chance to produce an even later winner but a tough shot drifted well wide.
It was a draw that left everyone with something.
“I think everyone is happy to fight another day,” said Mayfield manager Mick Hannon – a sentiment echoed by his Fermoy counterpart, Noel Crowley, who was keen to accentuate the positives: “As you can see from the smile on my face, we’re in a county final and we’ll prepare next week for that.”
Both sides will have similar emphases in training too, after a game that featured some stellar defence but an evenly split total of 26 wides and a whole lot of misplaced passes.
However Crowley won’t be ripping up the playbook after the second-half collapse: “I don’t think there’s too much to work on – it just didn’t go our way in the second-half. What we did in the first half was very positive and we’ll just reiterate that what we’ve been doing all year got us here in the first place, and we’re still here.
“They might enjoy tonight, we’ll go back up to the training pitch on Tuesday night and I might put in an email after this just to change my own holidays. But we’ll prepare as we prepared last week and we won’t do anything too strenuous.”
Hannon will also debrief the troops on Tuesday with a video session.
“We felt at half-time we hadn’t done ourselves justice and we really hadn’t played any football,” said the Mayfield boss in his initial analysis. “The lads were very calm, they’re a mature bunch and the intention was to go out at the start of the second-half and get a couple of scores. But looking up at the clock with 10 minutes to go we still hadn’t scored – there wasn’t any score for either team.
“Whereas we didn’t have the bench last year, we had the bench this year to bring on when things weren’t going in our favour. I think our fellows know there’s an extra 25 or 30% in them and that if we can produce that the next day, we’d be looking forward to a good game.”
Few could’ve foreseen such a wasteful draw, given last year’s meeting of these two ended in a seven-goal thriller.
Fermoy had the wind and a stream of chances in the first half on Saturday. Ruairi O’Hagan was their main-man in the inside line and his ability to create and kick scores stood out among 10 wides. Mayfield centre-back Kieran Brosnan provided the only resistance from play as the northsiders went in five behind.
The subsequent 20 minutes can best be described in few words: two yellow cards, two shots dropped short, seven wides and little action. However the final 10 snapped the players out of their stupor, with Mayfield extending their Championship odyssey by another 60 minutes.
R O’Hagan (0-5, 2 frees); T Clancy, P de Roiste (0-1 each).
P Condon (0-5, 3 frees, 1 45); K Brosnan, D O’Neill (0-1 each).
L Coleman; J Pyne, S Shanahan, A Baragry; P Clancy, B O’Sullivan, P Murphy; T Clancy, K Dorgan; R O’Callaghan, D O’Carroll, M Brennan; P de Roiste, R O’Hagan, K Morrison.
J Daly for P Clancy (inj, 33), A O’Connor for Brennan (40), S Aherne for Dorgan (54).
E Bond; S O’Sullivan, T Boyd, P Fitzgerald; D O’Neill, K Brosnan, S Kelly; S O’Donovan, S Fitzgerald; N Kelly, D Malone, D Lucey; D Hayes, P Condon, S Hackett.
R Scannell for Hackett (35), T Lotty for Lucey (38), Lucey for Hayes (49), B Hegarty for Malone (59).
J Ryan (Macroom).