A pulsating Cork PIFC opening round tie went right to the wire before Bantry Blues edged St Vincent’s at Enniskeane yesterday.
The west Cork club were outplayed by their opponents during the second period of a quality encounter but Vincent’s failure to land a killer blow saw Bantry strike a late winner.
Down 5 points at the break, St Vincent’s staged a comeback and were in control when Bantry scored a third goal against the run of play after 54 minutes.
Once again Vincent’s showed their quality by drawing level 3-10 to 1-16 deep into injury-time.
Bantry worked the ball up the opposite end where a foul presented Tim Foley with a match-winning opportunity.
Foley made no mistake from a free to the delight of the Bantry supporters.
“My heart rate is gone through the roof after all that,” admitted Bantry Blues selector Shane O’Neill.
“You have to give massive credit to St Vincent’s. They went four points up after only a few minutes before we came back into the game and were five up at half time.
"They showed great heart to level the game after our third goal came completely against the run of play but it (goal) just about got us over the line.”
The game got off to an explosive start with St Vincent’s racking up 1-1 inside the first 3 minutes courtesy of a superb Patrick O’Sullivan goal and Anthony Hart point.
Bantry got on the scoresheet when Shane O’Neill split the posts and were awarded a penalty after Sean O’Leary was hauled down.
Tim Foley took the spot-kick and arrowed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.
John Paul Murphy had a terrific game for the Seandún side and restored their 2-point advantage with two well-taken scores (one free).
At the opposite end, Cork’s Ruairi Deane was well marshalled by Darren Regan but broke free to kick a marvellous point and make it 1-3 to 1-2 after 11 minutes.
Deane turned provider shortly after, bursting clear and releasing Kevin Casey for the Bantry half-forward to rifle in Bantry’s second goal.
The sides changed ends with the Blues 2-8 to 1-6 in front after Shane O’Neill, David Daly, Kevin Casey and Tim Foley began to find their range.
Yet, it was St Vincent’s dominated the second period with Gerry Kelleher, Blake Murphy and John Paul Murphy’s scoring ability making it 2-9 to 1-12.
Another Ruairi Deane break ended with David Daly slotting home to restore the Carbery side’s 3-point advantage.
Blake Murphy and Tim Foley (free) exchanged scores before another Murphy effort and Gavin McCarthy 45’ left the bare minimum between the sides.
St Vincent’s weren’t finished as Gerry Kelleher’s fisted point made it 2-10 to 1-16 deep into injury-time.
Tim Foley had the final say however, converting a late free to send Bantry through.
T Foley (1-4, 1 pen, 4 frees), K Casey and D Daly (1-1 each), S O’Neill (0-2), R Deane, S O’Leary and S Murray (0-1 each).
J P Murphy (0-7, 4 frees), B Murphy (0-4, 1 free), G Kelleher (0-3), P O’Sullivan (1-0), G McCarthy (1 45’) and A Hart (0-1 each).
D Casey (captain); E O’Shea, C O’Leary, E Minihane; R O’Mahony, B Foley, K Coakley; S Coughlan, S O’Leary; K Casey, R Deane, D Daly; S Murray, T Foley, S O’Neill.
J Downey for S Murray (40), J Casey for J Downey (51, black card), S McSweeney for S Coughlan (55).
P O’Shea; A Gould, G McCarthy, A O’Callaghan; A Hart, D O’Regan (captain), S Duggan; W Long, P O’Sullivan; G Kelleher, D Duggan, D Lockyer; B Murphy, J P Murphy, A King.
D Fenton for A Gould (ht), C Barry for D Lockyer (44).
A O’Connor (Ballygarvan).