Eventually, Ballincollig found a way to overcome the fearsome challenge of 13-man Courcey Rovers in the second round of the Cork Premier IHC in Brinny on Saturday afternoon.
They probably made it tougher than it needed to be, only taking the lead for the first time in the 57th minute, but thanks to the brilliance of Seán Walsh and Luke Fahy, coupled with the leadership of Liam Jennings they did enough to register their maiden win on their return to this grade following last year’s promotion from the IHC.
As for Courcey Rovers, last year’s beaten finalists, they will be left rue their ill-discipline and lack of scoring power from play.
However, it’s a testament to their character that the game was in the balance right up to the end, despite their problems.
As they emerged after half-time level, but with only 13 men, they needed something to defend and they got it four minutes in when Stephen Nyhan’s long range free went all the way to the Ballincollig net.
The mid-Cork men were soon level again through two excellent Walsh points from play and another from JP Murphy. However, every time they got close, Courceys managed to sneak ahead again through the excellent free taking of Richard Sweetnam.
Three Sweetnam frees were cancelled out by three from a combination of Walsh and Fahy before Sweetnam and Dave Bowen traded scores to level matters for the sixth time with four to play and an against the odds win didn’t seem impossible.
But Ballincollig finally got ahead through the outstanding Walsh and further scores from Conor O’Leary and Robert Bourke gave them a some breathing space.
The first-half suffered from hearts ruling heads as both teams struggled to dust off the cobwebs from their respective first-round encounters back in April.
Before the ball was thrown in, referee Ian McCarthy was forced to speak to Ballincollig’s Conor Sexton and Courcey’s Sean Twomey and that ill-feeling permeated through the half.
Courcey’s Dan Lordan saw red from the throw-in following a moment of madness and the play never found a flow as the physical exchanges became all-encompassing.
Courceys responded to adversity admirably from the start and led by five points to two at the end of the opening quarter.
Four of those came from the stick of Tadgh O’Sullivan through placed balls while Cork U20 starlet Sean Twomey, who was starved of possession in general, supplied the other with Fenton Denny and Luke Fahy on target for Ballincollig.
Gradually, however, Ballincollig began to get a foothold in the game as they came to terms with their numerical advantage.
Seán Walsh slotted over three frees, Ciarán O’Sullivan pointed from play while Tadgh O’Sullivan had another free for Courceys to see the sides level going in at half-time.
Unfortunately for Courceys, it was to be O’Sullivan’s last action as he was red-carded for an incident after the short whistle.
From there, it took Ballincollig a while to figure out how to use their advantage, but they did, and they now have a further chance to lengthen their summer against Valley Rovers next weekend.
For Courceys it’s all over before it really began, but they’ll go again, like they always do.
Scorers for Ballincollig:
S Walsh 0-8 (0-5 frees), L Fahy 0-2, F Denny (free), C O’Leary, D Bowen, C O’Sullivan, JP Murphy and R Bourke 0-1 each.
Scorers for Courcey Rovers:
T O’Sullivan and R Sweetnam 0-5 each (both all frees), S Nyhan 1-0 (free) and S Twomey 0-1.
R Cambridge, R O’Donovan, G O’Donoghue, C Sexton, C O’Sullivan, L Jennings, JP Murphy, C Moore, F Denny, P O’Neill, C O’Leary, D Bowen, S Walsh, K Walsh, L Fahy.
R Bourke for Denny (58).
S Nyhan, B Mulcahy, B Collins, K Collins, D Lordan, D Duggan, M Collins, R Sweetnam, K Moloney, S Twomey, M O’Donovan, J O’Neill, T O’Sullivan, O Crowley, R Nyhan.
F Lordan for R Nyhan (h/t), C Daly for O’Donovan (42), D Collins for K Collins (54).
Ian McCarthy (Bandon).