A 57th-minute goal from Douglas defender Daniel Harte has sent three-in-a-row chasing Cork champions Nemo Rangers packing, with the winners advancing directly to the semi-final as the top-ranked group winners.
Behind by 0-8 to 0-5 six minutes into the second-half, Douglas wrestled control of this final round group game following the black-carding of Nemo midfielder Alan O’Donovan. Through Conor Russell (free), Brian Hartnett, and Sean Powter, Douglas kicked three unanswered points when enjoying a numerical advantage to tie matters at 0-8 apiece on 50 minutes.
A point from sub Aaron Sheehy on 52 minutes nudged Douglas in front for the first time in proceedings, with Russell doubling their advantage shortly after.
Nemo, who really only have themselves to blame such was their wastefulness in front of goal, restored parity on 57 minutes following points from Luke Connolly (free) and Barry O’Driscoll.
Then arrived the crucial score of this Group A clash, Powter feeding Cork teammate Hartnett who in turn supplied Harte, the latter making no mistake from close range to bag the sole goal of a contest that was slow to catch fire but certainly finished in a blaze.
Another Connolly free left two between them but the goal Nemo now required was not to be found. Their reign as back-to-back county champions is over.
Nemo had enjoyed a fully merited double scores 0-6 to 0-3 lead at the break. And while Douglas certainly wouldn’t have been pleased with a first-half effort where they managed only one score from play and went 24 minutes without scoring, it is arguable that Nemo too would have been less than content with their opening half-hour display.
The reigning champions had the lion's share of possession from the 10th minute onwards but failed to translate this into a meaningful lead as they were guilty of wasting several scoring opportunities.
On top of five first-half wides, O’Driscoll struck the post, with Connolly dropping a further effort short.
In essence, they should have been more than three ahead at the interval.
Douglas started brightly, with a fine Hartnett effort from play and a Russell free leaving them level with their neighbours at 0-2 apiece after nine minutes.
But there followed a near 25-minute barrel spell for Ray Keating’s charges, the Douglas attack, after two early wides from placed-ball efforts, failing to pack any sort of a punch as the half wore on.
That all changed in the second period, Douglas finding form during the 10 minutes in which their opponents were reduced to 14 men and then holding their nerve all the way to the finish line to reverse their 2019 and 2020 championship exits at the hands of Nemo.
C Russell (0-5, 0-4 frees); B Hartnett (0-3); D Harte (1-0); S Powter, A Sheehy (0-1 each).
L Connolly (0-5, 0-5 frees); B O’Driscoll (0-3, 0-2 frees); C Horgan (0-2); P Kerrigan (0-1).
B Boyle; L McGrath, S Wilson, N Walsh; D Ward, D Harte, S Powter; B Hartnett, N Hartnett; S Aherne, K Flahive, B Lynch; A O’Hare, D Kelly, C Russell.
D Hanrahan for Aherne, C Collins for A O’Hare (both 43 mins); A Sheehy for Kelly (47); K Hayes-Curtin for Walshe (50 inj); L Dineen for Russell (63).
M Aodh Martin; K Histon, B Murphy, A Cronin; K O’Donovan, S Cronin, J Horgan; A O’Donovan, J McDermott; C O’Brien, R Dalton, L Connolly; P Kerrigan, B O’Driscoll, C Horgan.
A O’Reilly for J Horgan (48); C Dalton for C Horgan (50); B Cripps for J McDermott (53); L Horgan for R Dalton (57).
J Ryan (Macroom).