Was this the first great comeback post-lockdown? Has there been another GAA team in recent weeks who found themselves in a worse position than being eight points in arrears with eight minutes of normal time remaining and somehow managed to come out on top?
All credit to Newtownshandrum for what they produced in the closing stages of this hugely entertaining and, at times, fiery Cork Premier SHC Group B clash because for long stretches of the second-half they were the epitome of a beaten docket.
Before we lay out their remarkable comeback, which included 11 unanswered points, it would be appropriate to first set the scene.
Bishopstown, who played with the aid of the breeze in the opening half, were ahead by three - 0-12 to 0-9 - at the break. You wondered - and doubted - if the size of their lead was substantial enough.
All such concerns, however, were quickly put to bed as Bishopstown owned the third quarter. They limited their opponents to one point, while themselves firing in 1-3 to move 1-15 to 0-10 in front on 45 minutes. Pa Cronin was responsible for two of their three points and it was his free which Mark Driscoll flicked to the net for the game’s sole major.
But as healthy and all as their eight-point lead was, it should have been more. Driscoll had an earlier goal ruled out for square ball, while another effort from the full-forward was well kept out by Newtown 'keeper James Bowles.
David Quaid’s 38th-minute point, meanwhile, could easily have ended up in the net as Bowles batted out into the danger area a Pa Cronin shot that was creeping over the crossbar.
It is against this backdrop that nobody could have predicted what was to follow. That Bishopstown would not add to their tally from the 45th minute onward was about as unforeseeable as their opponents managing 11 unanswered points between the 52nd and 69th minute.
Paul O’Sullivan’s point - the first of this mammoth comeback - was only Newtownshandrum’s second of the half and first in over a quarter of an hour. But from then on, the scores began to rain in from all manner of angles and distances.
Sub Dermot McCarthy (0-3), fellow replacement Jack Twomey, and Jamie Coughlan (two frees) cut the deficit to the minimum one minute into injury-time.
Jerry O’Mahony was the third Newtownshandrum sub to write his name on the scoresheet and what an important point his was, proceedings now deadlocked and the clock showing almost 64 minutes elapsed.
Bishopstown had lost all shape by this juncture. Only the clock was going to save them. Unfortunately for the city side, we had another five minutes, three points, and one red card yet to get through.
Tim O’Mahony, well marshalled throughout by former Cork footballer Jamie O’Sullivan, landed the lead score in the fifth minute of time added on.
In keeping with the dramatic nature of this tie, Bishopstown marched back up the field from the ensuing restart and almost found a second goal, Mark Driscoll’s shot repelled. Newtownshandrum could have had a goal of their own thereafter, Jamie Coughlan fouled as he dispatched an effort that crept the wrong side of the left post. Bishopstown ‘keeper Ken O’Halloran was sent off for his challenge on Coughlan, the latter converting the resulting free to double their lead.
They were understandably ecstatic at the final whistle.
As noted earlier, Bishopstown were three to the good at half-time. The Murray brothers at midfield accounted for over half of their first-half tally. Brian hit four from play, Thomas with one less.
The sides were level at 0-5 apiece after 16 minutes, but Bishopstown pushed on thereafter, their lead stretching to five on 29 minutes. And even though it grew larger upon the change of ends, they were undone by the most sensational of comebacks.
Bishopstown meet Erin’s Own next weekend and given both sides lost their respective opening fixtures, whoever falls for a second time will see their championship involvement come to an end.
J Coughlan (0-6, frees); D McCarthy (0-4); P O’Sullivan, T O’Mahony, C O’Brien, C Griffin (0-2 each); M Thompson, J Twomey, J O’Mahony (0-1 each).
P Cronin (0-6, 4 frees, 1 ‘65); B Murray (0-4); T Murray (0-3); M Driscoll (1-0); D Lester, D Quaid (0-1 each).
J Bowles; D Guiney, K O’Sullivan, M Ryan; M Thompson, C Twomey, P O’Sullivan; C O’Brien, D Hawe; J Lane, T O’Mahony, D O’Connor; J Geary, C Griffin, J Coughlan.
D McCarthy for Hawe (35 mins); S Griffin for Geary (40); J Twomey for Thompson (42, inj); J O’Mahony for O’Connor (59).
K O’Halloran; E Byrne, B Murphy, S Murphy; S O’Neill, J O’Sullivan, D Lester; T Murray, B Murray; J Scally, P Cronin, S Lordan; C O’Hora, M Driscoll, D Quaid.
C O’Driscoll for Lordan, C Hegarty for Quaid (both 54).
: J Larkin.