Going into this game, the permutations were numerous – depending on the score in the game between St Fachtna’s and Mercy Mounthawk, Coláiste Choilm might have beaten Clonakilty CC and not qualified, or lost the match and still made it through. As it was, Mounthawk’s failure to win meant that the Ballincollig school could have lost by six points without their advancement being in danger, but the one-point win meant they pipped Clon for top spot on the head-to-head basis.
Trailing by 2-4 to 1-4 at half-time, they twice fell four points behind in the second half, but they outscored their opponents by 1-5 to 0-1 between the 46th and 53rd minutes, Matthew Whelan’s second goal putting them 2-10 to 2-7 in front. While points from Liam O’Connor and Ross Mannix – who finished with seven – brought Clon back to within a point, a Whelan free eased Coláiste Choilm clear again. Mark White replied for Clon in injury-time, but the equaliser they required to top the group remained elusive though they progressed to the last eight also.
Given how Clonakilty – who were missing key attacker David Lowney – had started, with three Mannix points, any aspirations Coláiste Choilm had of qualifying looked fanciful. However, they got going after an Adam O’Connell free was followed by Whelan’s first goal, the rangy full-forward netting the rebound after Ryan Doonan saved his first effort.
The lead was extended to 1-3 to 0-3 by the 20th minute after points from Seán Warren and Eoin O’Shea, but poor decision-making and sloppy shooting proved costly as Clon fired back. Wing-forward Dylan Scannell goaled for them after a good run in from the right and, after Mannix and Gearoid O’Donoghue exchanged efforts, Seán Ryan ensured that Clon led at half-time. Having made a good dart forward, the midfielder was perfectly placed to meet Mannix’s ball from the left, giving them that goal lead at the break and had them on course for a flawless record in the group.
Upon the resumption, Joseph O’Donovan might have had a chance of another Clon goal only for a great James Lordan interception, while Mannix had an effort which flew wide.
Coláiste Choilm made the most of those let-offs as they gained a foothold around the middle and Warren was unlucky to see a goal attempt brilliantly tipped over by Doonan before points by Rob Bourke and Colm O’Callaghan left the minimum between the sides.
Mannix’s sixth point was answered by two from Ballincollig captain O’Shea to level and the dynamic of the game changed again when Whelan made the most of Kevin Crowley’s run forward to finish smartly. It gave them a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish, and ensured that they will be seeded in the quarter-final draw next month.
M Whelan 2-2, E O’Shea 0-3, S Warren 0-2, G O’Donoghue, R Bourke, C O’Callaghan, A O’Connell (free) 0-1 each.
R Mannix 0-7 (five frees), D Scannell, S Ryan 1-0 each, L O’Connor 0-2 (frees), M White 0-1.
E Curzon (Kilmurry); W Ronan (Kilmurry), R McCarthy (Éire Óg), L Fahy (Ballincollig); F Warren (Kilmurry), J Lordan (Ballinora), K Crowley (Ballincollig); E Reilly (Ballincollig), G O’Donoghue (Ballincollig); R Bourke (Ballincollig), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), E O’Shea (Éire Óg); A O’Connell (Inniscarra), M Whelan (Ballincollig), S Warren (Kilmurry).
K O’Riordan (Éire Óg) for O’Connell (41).
R Doonan (Clonakilty); J Deasy (Kilmeen), D Kiely (Ibane Gaels), G Crowley (Ibane Gaels); L O’Connor (Clonakilty), L O’Donovan (Clonakilty), T Scanell (Kilmeen); M White (Clonakilty), S Ryan (Ballinascarthy); K Keohane (Kilmeen), S O’Donoghue (Clonakilty), D Scannell (St Mary’s); R Mannix (Clonakilty), O Lawton (Ibane Gaels), J O’Donovan (Kilmeen).
S Scannell (Kilmeen) for Keohane (56).
C Egan (Glen Rovers).