A deserved Cork Colleges Senior B Hurling title for Ballincollig’s Colaiste Choilm but they had to win this thriller in Rathcormac two or three times before shaking off the dogged challenge of Mitchelstown CBS.
The better side for long periods, Ballincollig almost paid dearly for 14 wides as a spirited fightback from Mitchelstown put them in the driving seat with eight minutes remaining, 2-12 to 2-11.
It took two goals from Colaiste Choilm’s Conor Eagles and Cian O’Driscoll to wrest control back from Mitchestown, who squeezed a 59th-minute goal into the drama too, via Padraig Harrington. That was his second goal, the first on 52 minutes capping a remarkable comeback from the never-say-die Avondhu lads, who trailed by six points after 43 minutes.
It was a thrilling hour’s entertainment at the home of Bride Rovers, with referee Simon Stokes’ tendency to let things go adding to the excitement. Compared to the thrilling second half, the first period was relatively sedate. Ballincollig’s seventh minute goal from full-forward Diarmuid Dillon giving Colaiste Choilm a 1-7 to 0-8 interval advantage.
But it all kicked off in the final quarter as Ballincollig failed to put their dominance to good effect on the scoreboard. A 46th-minute penalty from full-forward Luke Keating kickstarted Mitchelstown’s comeback before they hit the front six minutes later.
Ballincollig have made a habit of letting leads slip in the championship this term, but they responded impressively with two key goals to lead 3-11 to 2-12 after 55 minutes.
The final minutes were like a collegiate basketball game with goalmouth scrambles and scores at both ends. Dillon added a Colaiste Choilm point before Cian O’Driscoll drilled a low finish to the net, the Ballincollig centre-forward putting a mixed bag of a performance behind him to finish strongly.
Eagles added a 62nd minute point and O’Driscoll again obliged from a 65 to finish with 1-5 and bag the victory for Ballincollig.
Colaiste Choilm manager jack Meade praised O'Driscoll's mental strength afterwards: “It wasn’t really his day but he really turned it on towards the end. He’s a class act.”
Meade, brother of Cork ace Luke, said they had made a bad habit of blowing leads. “That’s been happening all year. We were up by 11 points in the semi-final and just about scraped through. That’s in the lads and it’s something we need to work on in the future. They always grind it out in the end though and it was nice to get the job done again.”
He added: "Football is the main focus in the school but this will hopefully help drive on the hurling in the next few years.”
C O’Driscoll (1-5), D Dillon (1-4), D O’Mahony (1-3), C Eagles (1-1), S O’Donoghue (0-1).
L Keating (1-9), P Harrington (2-0), D O’Brien, Z McCarthy, S Looney (0-1 each).
E O’Shea, D Keane (Fenton, 60+2), D Ward (J Keane, 2), L Harris, B Dore, D Coakley, A McCarthy, P Kelly, B Thompson, D O’Mahony, C O’Driscoll, S O’Donoghue, C Eagles, D Dillon, D Dineen (W Perry, 60+4).
: M Roche, P O’Flynn (O Fenton, 60+3), C McGrath, J Fogarty, D Harte (S O’Doherty, 34), R Donegan, S Looney, C Kent, S Kenneally, D Sheehan, D O’Brien, P Harrington, Z McCarthy, L Keating, E Hickey (M Walsh, 35).
: S Stokes (Tullylease).