A Shane Aherne point in the 81st minute handed victory to Fermoy in this see-saw Cork PIHC first-round contest. Despite being led only once during the 60 minutes of regulation time, Fermoy found themselves behind in both second-half stoppages and late on in the second period of extra-time, but, to their credit, rescued the situation on both occasions to take the spoils at the end of this massively entertaining fixture.
When Courcey Rovers corner-forward Tadgh O’Sullivan struck his first point from play two minutes into second-half stoppages, the men from Ballinspittle, who had now outscored their opponents by 0-6 to 0-1 in the preceding nine minutes, were poised to sneak a win.
Fermoy’s Liam Coleman, however, having been so influential over the hour, was to have yet another say on this game, converting his ninth free to level matters at 1-16 to 0-19. Courceys could have nabbed a winner at the end of the six minutes of stoppages played, O’Sullivan failing to find the target with a ‘65 almost directly in front of the posts.
Last year’s beaten county finalists played the better hurling during the first 10-minute period of extra-time and led by 1-19 to 0-21 at the quick turnaround thanks to points from Michael O’Donovan, Sean Twomey, and goalkeeper Stephen Nyhan with his second free from well inside his own half. And when Olan Crowley and Twomey sandwiched a Liam Coleman free to shove Courceys two clear, you felt that would be sufficient to see them home.
There was to be one final twist, though, in a contest which had ebbed and flowed, and then ebbed some more. Cork footballer Tomás Clancy, on 78 minutes, took a pass from Pádraig De Róiste and drilled the sliotar past Conor Quinn for a Fermoy goal to return them in front. Tadgh O’Sullivan did restore parity in the ensuing play, but in the 81st minute, Aherne stepped forward to deliver the game-winning point and begin Fermoy’s championship campaign on a rather positive note.
After an opening 20 minutes where both sides enjoyed mini-periods of sustained dominance, it was Courcey Rovers who led 0-7 to 0-6. That was to be the last occasion, mind, that they’d hold the inside lane until the 63rd minute. Fermoy came with five-in-a-row, three of which were supplied by the excellent Coleman, to command a 0-11 to 0-7 interval advantage. Coleman, superb from the placed ball, accounted for eight of his team’s first-half total.
That gap had been wiped out by the 41st minute, Sean Twomey delivering the equalising goal after fine work in the build-up from Jerry O’Neill. Fermoy's response was a pair from Coleman, along with points from subs John Ring and David Lardner, to push four clear. Courceys did finish strong, but it wasn’t enough to take the verdict in normal time and they were just piped thereafter.
Both sides, having contested the final unsuccessfully in 2016 and 2018 respectively, will have designs on getting back to the decider, but even if they fail in this regard, expect them to be in the shake-up for Senior A involvement at the end of the year.
Scorers for Fermoy: L Coleman (0-14, 0-10 frees); M Brennan (0-3); T Clancy (1-0); S Aherne (0-2); K Morrison, J Molloy, J Ring, D Lardner (0-1 each).
Scorers for Courcey Rovers: T O’Sullivan (0-9, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘65); S Twomey (1-2); O Crowley (0-3); S Nyhan (0-2 frees), J McCarthy (0-2 each); K Moloney, R Sweetnam, J O’Neill, M O’Donovan (0-1 each).
C Quinn; P Clancy, R O’Callaghan, E Clancy; B O’Sullivan, D O’Carroll, A Creed; M Brennan, T Clancy; J Hutchings, L Coleman, S Aherne; K Morrisson, P De Róiste, P Shanahan.
D Lardner for Hutchings (17 mins, inj); J Ring for Shanahan (26); J Molloy for Morrison (61); K Morrison for Ring (72); J Scannell for O’Carroll (72).
S Nyhan; D Collins, B Collins, K Collins; D Lordan, D Duggan, F Lordan; K Moloney, B Mulcahy; R Sweetnam, J O’Neill, M O’Donovan; S Twomey, O Crowley, T O’Sullivan.
M Collins for Mulcahy (38 mins); J McCarthy for Sweetnam (50); A O’Donovan for O’Neill (51).
: M Maher (St Finbarr’s).