Truth be told, the men from Rosscarbery were able to get their scores a little easier than their opponents, particularly in the second half when the game opened up.
Ballincollig were heavily reliant on accurate free-taker Cian Dorgan whereas Carbery could look to a couple of trump cards — perennial danger man John Hayes and his comrade in arms in the other corner, John O’Rourke, who enjoyed a man of the match performance with five points from play. Carbery also conjured up a goal when the game was still in the melting pot, while Ballincollig’s came too late to be of any benefit.
Ballincollig played into the scoreboard end in the first half but Rangers were first on the scoreboard, a typical John Hayes effort from the wing five minutes in, and they added another through Brian Shanahan almost immediately.
Cian Dorgan hit Ballincollig’s first point and thankfully the squalling rain showers passed, to the benefit of both teams’ handling.
As in the semi-final, Ballincollig withdrew the experienced John Miskella from his nominal corner-forward berth, the former Cork player operating in the middle third as a linking player.
Two frees (Dorgan and Ian Coughlan) had Ballincollig one ahead on 10 minutes, but the game, swinging end to end, had yet to settle into a pattern. Neither side’s key forward — John Hayes as the Carbery scorer or Patrick Kelly, the Ballincollig playmaker — had imposed themselves, though two Hayes scores, one a free, had Carbery Rangers ahead on the quarter-hour.
Ballincollig enjoyed a dominant spell then, hitting two points (Cian Kiely and a Dorgan free) before breaking upfield: Sean Kiely had a sight of goal but his shot trickled harmlessly wide. Credit Carbery, they hit back with two good points from Jerry O’Riordan and John O’Rourke, but a Dorgan free levelled matters on 20 minutes, six points apiece.
The scoring rate then slowed down, the sides swapping points as both defences got to grips with their opponents. Carbery Rangers showed good enterprise when breaking up the field but the Ballincollig rearguard, well marshalled by centre-back Noel Galvin, held them out for the most part. The west Cork side finished the half one ahead, however, thanks to some bright work by John Hayes, with the score 0-8 to 0-7 at the break.
Carbery Rangers started the second half well, with two quick points by Seamus Hayes and John O’Rourke — John Hayes instrumental in setting up both — only for Ballincollig to hit back through Miskella, with a Coughlan free leaving the minimum between them.
The men from west Cork then struck decisively on 37 minutes — Jerry O’Riordan soloed up the middle of the Ballincollig defence, cleverly delaying his pass until the last minute: he found Chris O’Donovan, who stepped inside the cover before rolling the ball into the corner of the net — 1-10 to 0-9.
Though Dorgan pointed a Ballincollig free almost immediately in response, a goal was a significant lead in the game, and a towering John O’Rourke point pushed Rangers four ahead as the final quarter approached.
By now the west Cork men were defending cleverly, forcing Ballincollig into long deliveries which they mopped up well before working the ball upfield: O’Rourke added another fine point and though Ballincollig had a response from Sean Lucey to keep four between them, 1-12 to 0-11, Robbie Kiely drove upfield for another Carbery point.
The west Cork men might have had another goal but Alan Jennings’ lunge for glory ended with the ball skidding across goal; the drama was mirrored at the other end a minute later when Paul Shanahan had to dive to save from a Patrick Kelly fly-kick, the Carbery defence for once creaking under pressure.
With six minutes left a Dorgan 45 left Ballincollig just four adrift, but they needed a goal to have any chance of snatching a draw or a win, and Carbery were very calm at the back.
When John O’Rourke won a free late on which John Hayes converted, the result seemed safe. Hayes might have added a goal a minute later when he went clean through, one on one with Ballincollig ‘keeper Lordan, but instead he went for safety, popping the ball over the bar: that meant two goals between them and almost 60 minutes gone.
The injury-time penalty Ballincollig won was converted expertly by Cian Dorgan, but with less than a minute to play, time ran out for the men from Muskerry, giving Carbery Rangers that cherished first title — and revenge for their defeat at the hands of Ballincollig in the decider two years ago.
Manager Ronan McCarthy was polite about their intentions regarding the inaugural voyage in the Munster club championship, but the likely celebrations mean Rosscarbery may not be open for business for a couple of days at least.
C Dorgan (1-0 pen, 0-1 45, 0-4 frees, 1-7); I Coughlan (frees, 0-2); J Miskella, C Kiely and S Lucey (0-1 each).
J O’Rourke, J Hayes (0-2 frees) (0-5 each); C O’Donovan (1-0); S Hayes (0-2); J O’Riordan, B Shanahan, R Kiely (0-1 each).
D Lordan, S Murphy, L Jennings, E. Hegarty, S Lucey, N Galvin, C Kiely, S Kiely, C O’Sullivan (c), R Noonan, P Kelly, G Durrant, C Dorgan, I Coughlan, J Miskella.
K Browne for Durrant (44); J Kelly for Coughlan (49); L Fahy for Noonan (56).
P Shanahan, M Kelly, T O’Rourke, P Hodnett, J O’Riordan, R Kiely, J Fitzpatrick (c), B Shanahan, K McMahon, A Jennings, C O’Donovan, B Hodnett, J O’Rourke, S Hayes, J Hayes.
D Hayes for O’Donovan (44); M O’Donovan for McMahon (49); C O’Rourke for S Hayes (54); M Mennis for O’Donovan (inj, 54); K Fitzpatrick for B Hodnett (57); S Murray for A Jennings (59).
K Murphy (Nemo Rangers).