Ballydesmond clung on for another bite of the cherry thanks to a 68th-minute levelling point from Donncha O’Connor in a dramatic Co. IFC quarter final with Duhallow neighbours Dromtariffe at Boherbue yesterday.
Minutes earlier Ballydesmond looked well positioned, leading by five points but in a sensational finale Dromtariffe came close to pulling off the great escape with two quickfire goals to forge ahead. However in the last play, O’Connor saved the day with his 10th point. A draw was the least Ballydesmond deserved on the general run of play and that was acknowledged by Dromtariffe manager James McAulliffe.
“There is no pretending that we were in a tight corner and got out of jail here. Its a young Dromtariffe side and we can learn from the experience”, he said.
A philosophical Ballydesmond coach Denys O’Brien made no secret of his relief to grab another day out.
“We showed great character, Dromtariffe were celebrating, we won the kick out, worked the ball up field to force the free and the equaliser. There is nothing better than to be training late September and we’re relishing the replay,” he said.
Reigning Co. Junior A champions Dromtariffe had laid down a marker, long-serving Seamus O’Sullivan laying off to Mark O’Connor for a goal. However Ballydesmond held a higher workrate, the positive play of Conor Linehan, Jerry Healy, Donal O’Connor and Niall Fleming got their teeth into the contest.
Fleming netted and a rush of points from former Cork star Donncha O’Connor helped Ballydesmond enjoy a 1-9 to 1-3 grip at the break. Dromtariffe mobilised their forces for the restart with three changes in personnel yet Ballydesmond retained their six-point buffer into the closing quarter.
In fairness, Dromtariffe plugged away, a flick from O’Sullivan crashed off the Ballydesmond crossbar. Ballydesmond looked content to hold what they had only for Dromtariffe stem the flow with goals from O’Sullivan and substitute O’Connor.
Invariably when Ballydesmond required to chisel out a reprieve, it fell to Donncha O’Connor to steer the ball between the uprights.
Scorers for Dromtariffe: C O’Callaghan (0-3 frees), M O’Connor, S O’Sullivan, D O’Connor (1-0 each); D O’Keeffe, E Murphy (1 free) (0-2 each), M Healy, S Collins (0-1 each).
Scores for Ballydesmond: D O’Connor (0-10, 7 frees); N Fleming( 1-2), S Carey (0-2), R Flynn (0-1).
D Mann; C O’Mahony, C Cremin, S Howard; T Howard, J Murphy, B O’Keeffe; A Buckley, C O’Callaghan; E Murphy, D O’Donoghue, M O’Connor; D O’Keeffe, S O’Sullivan, M Healy.
Subs: S Collins for M Healy(ht), E Mernagh for C O’Mahony(ht), MO’Brien for D Mann(ht) D O’Connor for M O’Connor(42), J Buckley for J Murphy (62 inj).
F O’Sullivan; C Linehan, N O’Leary, T Howard; J Healy, Donal Kelly, J O’Keeffe; S Kelly, S Cronin ; R Flynn, N Fleming, Donal O’Connor; Donncha O’Connor, D Moynihan, S Carey. Subs: N O’Connor for Donal Kelly(44), S Murphy for J O’Keeffe(51), N O’Sullivan for S Kelly(61).
Referee: J Murphy(Castletownroche).