Jack Murphy was the toast of Dromtarriffe on Saturday night as his 61st-minute point secured victory for the Duhallow men in the Cork JAFC final at Páirc Uí Rinn.
It was the first time that they had led since the eighth minute as Kilmacabea had looked the more likely victors after Ian Jennings and Timmy Nyhan struck for two first-half goals.
But while it was Murphy who tapped over the winning score, there were two other key contributions that swung the game Dromtarriffe’s way. Firstly there was goalkeeper Dan Mann’s superb penalty save from Dan O’Donovan on the stroke of half-time and then there was the introduction of Darren O’Connor.
He pounced for two second-half goals that made Murphy’s late heroics possible and ensured that the long weekend will be celebrated that little bit longer in Dromtarriffe.
Points from Evan Murphy and Daniel O’Keeffe gave them an early lead but Kilmacabea were soon to find their groove when Ian Jennings punched a long-range free from Dan O’Donovan to the net.
O’Keeffe and Shane Collins had two more points for Dromtarriffe but O’Donovan and Damien Gore replied in kind for Kilmacabea to give the west Cork side a 1-2 to 0-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Then came the game’s second goal. Daniel O’Donovan, who was on top around the middle of the field, meandered his way up the field before releasing Donie O’Donovan who in turn put Richie O’Sullivan through on goal. Mann saved brilliantly from O’Sullivan but the rebound fell to Timmy Nyhan who tapped in to put daylight between the sides.
Nyhan then added a point but three in a row from O’Keeffe left just two between them, 2-3 to 0-7, as half-time approached.
Then came the penalty, with Dan very much proving to be the Mann, and Dromtarriffe manager James McAuliffe was well aware of its significance.
That penalty save proved crucial because it buoyed us going into half-time and probably punctured Kilmacabea a small bit. Dan has been exceptionally dependable for us all year and we were absolutely delighted that he was able to get across and make that wonderful save.
Niall Hayes’s resultant 45 did fall to the excellent Damien Gore who pushed his side into a three-point interval lead, 2-4 to 0-7, as they turned to play with the wind.
Dromtarriffe re-jigged things at half-time by putting talisman Séamus O’Sullivan in on the edge of the square and playing Con O’Callaghan closer to goal. Initially, however, the moves made little impact as they fell further behind as points from Gore and O’Donovan left Kilmacabea looking good as they led by 2-6 to 0-7 as the game entered the final quarter.
Enter Darren O’Connor. He was on the field no longer than 40 seconds when Séamus O’Sullivan got on the end of a long ball and passed to the sub who finished clinically from close range.
Con O’Callghan then added a point to leave just the one between them with 10 to go.
Kilmacabea’s response to the goal seemed to have the mark of champions about it. Captain Niall Hayes was exceptional, driving his team forward, while Gore again showed his class with his fourth point from play. And when he pointed a free that he had earned himself to give his side a 2-8 to 1-8 lead, it looked to be enough.
But it wasn’t. A Daniel O’Keeffe shot dropped dangerously around the Kilmacabea square and O’Connor got on the end of it to level matters with five minutes to go.
It was a classic war of attrition, as both sides dug deep to try and find a way over the line. Jack Murphy bided his time before breaking from centre-back to kick the winner and secure Dromtarriffe’s first junior county in 59 years.
Scorers for Dromtarriffe:
D O’Connor (2-0), D O’Keeffe (0-5, 4f), S Collins (1f), C O’Callaghan, E Murphy and J Murphy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilmacabea:
D Gore (0-5, 1 free), T Nyhan (1-1), I Jennings (1-0), Daniel O’Donovan (0-2, frees).
D Mann, C O’Mahony, C Cremin, S Howard, T Howard, J Murphy, B O’Keeffe, A Buckley, S O’Sullivan, E Murphy, D Donoghue, M Healy, C O’Callaghan, S Collins, D O’Keeffe.
M O’Connor for Healy (21st ), J Buckley for T Howard (black card, 38), V Browne for Murphy (blood, 38-40), D O’Connor for Collins (43 mins), G Murphy for O’Sullivan (62).
M O’Neill, S O’Driscoll, N Hayes, D Whooley, D McCarthy, C Sweetnam, Donie O’Donovan, Daniel O’Donovan, M Collins, J Collins, R O’Sullivan, D O’Callaghan, I Jennings, D Gore, T Nyhan.
D O’Sullivan for D McCarthy (blood; 16 th -20 th min), G O’Donovan for Nyhan and D Lynch for O’Sullivan (both 46 mins), L Thompson for J Collins (53), C O’Donovan for O’Driscoll (58).
Pat O’Leary (Kilmurray).