A Micheál Ó Duinnín free in the eight-minute of second-half injury-time rescued a draw for Naomh Abán in this thrilling Bons Secours Cork PIFC encounter played in the splendid Banteer Sportsfield.
The fact that the Baile Bhúirne men will be relatively happy with this result, despite the fact that they led by 0-13 to 0-6 at the second water break, says a lot about the crazy ebb and flow of this Group B tie.
It was very much a game of three periods. Knocknagree were dominant at the start, establishing a three-point advantage, Naomh Abán then turned the game on its head in between the water breaks as they outscored their Duhallow rivals by 0-11 to 0-1 before Knocknagree managed to turn things around again in an exciting finale, re-taking the lead deep in injury time before Ó Duinnín tied the game for the third and final time.
The opening quarter was all about Knocknagree. A Fintan O’Connor free gave them the lead early on before two fabulous points from Michael Mahoney and Eoghan McSweeney stretched their lead to three points after seven minutes. Diarmuid Ó Ceallaigh then got Naomh Abán off the mark with a free.
Another Ó Ceallaigh free was then sandwiched by points from Denis and Fintan O’Connor to leave Knocknagree 0-5 to 0-2 at the first water break. Naomh Abán might have rued an Ó Ceallaigh shot that flashed wide of Patrick Doyle’s post but they emerged a different team on the resumption.
Dara Ó Loinsigh was outstanding at wing-back, winning kick-outs and setting up attacks while frees from Ó Ceallaigh and Aodhán Ó Luasa, along with a ’45 from Deaglán Ó hAileamhain had them level by the twenty-second minute.
They had all the momentum now, and further scores from Ó hAileamhain, Micheál Ó Laoghaire and Éanna Ó Criodáin pushed them three ahead. Knocknagree looked flummoxed, though another point from Fintan O’Connor on the stroke of half-time meant they only trailed by two at the break, 0-8 to 0-6.
Naomh Abán extended their lead on the resumption through Ó Luasa and Ó hAileamhain and then they introduced Ó Duinnín from the bench. His impact was immediate, as he kicked three-in-a-row to leave a rampant Naomh Aban with a sizeable 0-13 to 0-6 lead as the game entered its final phase.
Knocknagree had no intention of giving in, however, and an Eoghan McSweeney point on the resumption meant the chase was very much on as Naomh Abán retreated into their own half.
Fintan O’Connor kicked three-in-a-row for last year’s Intermediate champions, Patrick Doyle nailed a ’45, Gearóid Looney had his first before the outstanding O’Connor’s seventh point levelled the game at 0-13 each three minutes into injury-time.
Matthew Dilworth then seemed secure a sensational victory when he put Knocknagree ahead moments later but sometimes the gods are benevolent and there was still time for Ó Duinnín to snatch a deserved draw for the Gaeltacht side.
It leaves both sides very much in the hunt for a quarter-final place, with Naomh Abán set to play St Vincent’s while Knocknagree face the already qualified Cill na Martra.
F O’Connor (0-7, 5 frees), E McSweeney (0-2), P Doyle (’45), M Mahoney, D O’Connor, G Looney and M Dilworth (0-1 each).
M Ó Duinnín (0-4, 1 free, 1 s/l), D Ó Ceallaigh (frees), D Ó hAileamhain (1 free, 1 ’45) (0-3 each), A Ó Luasa (0-2), M Ó Laoghaire agus É Ó Críodáin (0-1 each).
P Doyle; M Doyle, D O’Mahony, G O’Connor; D Cooper, K Buckley (Capt), M Mahoney; D O’Connor, D Moynihan; J Dennehy, E McSweeney, F O’Connor; D O’Connor, JF Daly, G Looney.
M Dilworth for D O’Connor (43 min), P O’Connor for Dennehy (47 min).
G Ó Luasa; T Ó hAiléasa, S Ó Mathúna, R de hÍde; C Ó Deasúna, É Ó Críodáin, D Ó Loingsigh; M Ó Laoghaire, C Ó Donnchú; D Ó Ceocháin, P Ó Liathán, D Ó hAileamhain; M Ó Liatháin (Capt), A Ó Luasa, D Ó Ceallaigh.
M Ó Duinnín for P Ó Liatháin (40 mins), N Ó Ceallaigh for Ó Ceocháin (47 min), A Ó Catháin for Ó hAiléasa (55 min), T Ó Catháin for Ó Deasúna (66 min).
Peter O’Leary (Cloughduv).