Cranking up the entertainment even further were the two green flags which arrived during the four minutes of injury time played by referee David Murnane at the end of the game.
Ahead 3-11 to 2-7 with five minutes remaining, Ilen Rovers appeared to have their place in the third round locked down, but such was the end-to-end nature of this contest that it was of little surprise to the decent crowd gathered on the embankment that there was more than a twist or two still to come.
Cork minor Mark Buckley, who caused untold problems for the Ilen Rovers defence, kicked two frees in quick succession and the Dunmanway outfit were back within a score of their opponents when Dohenys’ Daniel O’Donovan bundled the ball across the line a minute and a half into stoppages.
Midfielder Declan O’Dwyer created the opening when cutting in from the left corner and while his shot flashed across the face of the goal, full-forward O’Donovan was well placed to gather and finish – 3-11 to 3-9 now read the scoreboard.
The outstanding O’Sullivan, the Ilen Rovers corner-forward finished with 3-6 to his name, split the posts to ease the nerves of the Ilen contingent and Dohenys’ exit from the county championship was confirmed when O’Sullivan set-up sub Alan Holland for their fourth goal for minutes into added time.
Winning manager Dominic Casey was fulsome in his praise of man of the match O’Sullivan.
“Kevin is on the block there with a lot of years. He is a fella who turns up to training and is kicking until the last minute. He wants to improve all the time,” said Casey. “When the pressure was on, we needed to just settle things down and Kevin pulled a few big ones for us.
“His most important contribution was the goal after half-time. In that situation, things can get out of hand and you can lose the run of the game. To get those scores and to settle the team down, it was the vital period of the game.”
The Ilen Rovers manager was referring Dohenys’ lighting start to the second-half where an unanswered 1-1 ate into Ilen’s 1-9 to 0-6 interval advantage. A foul on Daniel O’Donovan had referee Murnane with his arms outstretched for the evening’s first penalty. Buckley assumed responsibility and he buried the ball into the bottom left corner of Timmy McCarthy’s goal. The young footballer added a free thereafter and, all of a sudden, momentum had been wrestled from the favourites.
Step forward O’Sullivan, the Ilen talisman, after excellent approach work by Conor O’Driscoll, rolling the ball past Darragh Farr on 40 minutes to put the Baltimore men back in the driving seat. Then, further drama.
A foul on Mark Quinn saw Dohenys awarded a second penalty, Buckley again successful in slotting the ball into the left corner of McCarthy’s goal – the gap now standing at 2-9 to 2-7.
As had been the case all evening, and as would prove so right up until the last whistle, Kevin O’Sullivan stirred Ilen back into action with a long-range free and his third goal entering the final quarter opened up a six-point lead for the winners. Dohenys gave chase, but eventually ran out of road.
Indeed, Tony O’Sullivan’s outfit had spent the full hour giving chase after falling 1-6 to 0-2 behind by the end of the first quarter – their cause wasn’t helped by losing Gareth Crowley and Jerry McCarthy to black cards. O’Sullivan smashed home the opening goal of the contest and while Dohenys kicked four unanswered points through Buckley (0-2 frees), Quinn and Noel Collins to cut the deficit back to 1-6 to 0-6 on 25 minutes, three O’Sullivan minors approaching the interval provided Ilen with a cushion they just about held onto in the second-half.
K O’Sullivan (3-6, 0-4 frees); D MacEoin (0-3, frees); A Holland (1-0); J Bushe, Conor O’Driscoll, S O’Donovan (0-1 each).
M Buckley (2-6; 2-0 pen, 0-6 frees); D O’Donovan (1-0); N Collins, D O’Dwyer, M Quinn (0-1 each).
T McCarthy; A Hassett, J Pickett, S Minihane; D O’Donovan, P Minihane, A Coughlan; Conor O’Driscoll, P O’Driscoll; T O’Regan, D Coughlan, J Bushe; D MacEoin, S O’Donovan, K O’Sullivan.
: Cian O’Driscoll for Hassett (20 mins, bc); T Bushe for P O’Driscoll (42); A Holland for O’Regan (44); C Cotter for A Coughlan (53); C Harrington for MacEoin (60).
D Farr; K Cotter, B O’Donovan, S Daly; N Collins, G Crowley, C O’Donovan; E Lavers, D O’Dwyer; P McCarthy, R Jennings, J McCarthy; M Quinn, D O’Donovan, M Buckley.
D McSweeney for J McCarthy (12 mins, bc); T Murphy for Crowley (29, bc); S O’Donovan for Jennings (40); K Crowley for B O’Donovan (49, inj).
D Murnane (Macroom)