Two goals in the space of 60 seconds around the 53rd minute mark sealed St Michael’s place in a second successive Cork Senior A football final.
Add in the four premier intermediate finals they unsuccessfully contested in 2015, 17, 18, and 19, and this evening’s win means a sixth appearance in eight years in the second-tier decider.
The above mentioned quickfire goals from the excellent Robbie Cotter and sub Eoin O’Donovan made certain of their progression, but, in truth, the bulk of the work had already been done as Michael’s superbly weathered a third-quarter Skibb revival.
With Dylan Hourihane’s goal in first-half injury-time having left O’Donovan Rossa just three adrift of their opponents upon the change of ends, the men from West Cork, now backed by the elements, had the gap cut to one on 38 minutes as Donal Óg Hodnett and Kevin Davis split the posts.
And while a Robbie Cotter free shoved Michael’s back out to two in front, a buoyant O’Donovan Rossa, through Hourihane, reduced arrears to the minimum shortly after.
A leveler was there for them in the ensuing passages, but midfielder Rory Byrne’s shot dropped short.
That was the let-off Michael’s needed, and one they duly absorbed. From there to the 53rd minute, they outgunned their opponents by 2-7 to 0-2.
Their point-taking during this period was of the highest quality, with sub Eoin O’Donovan, Adam Hennessy, and Eric Hegarty kicking top-drawer points from well out the field. Remember now that the wind was against them, making all the more impressive this sequence of white flags.
The winners were 0-19 to 1-10 in front when the two goals arrived, and although O’Donovan Rossa mined a second green flag through David Shannon, it was consolation stuff.
St Michael’s had been heading for a commanding six-point interval lead only for O’Donovan Rossa to secure themselves a lifebuoy right on the stroke of half-time.
Having fallen 0-11 to 0-5 behind after four-in-a-row from Michael’s, O’Donovan Rossa halved the deficit in the fourth minute of first half stoppages when Paudie Crowley’s off-target goal effort was booted to the net by Dylan Hourihane.
The goal, and the sizeable dent in put in their opponents’ lead, meant that momentum, as well as the wind, was behind the Skibb men turning around for the second period.
Having established clear daylight between the sides with their aforementioned four-in-a-row from Daniel Meaney, Adam Hennessy, Eric Hegarty, and Andrew Murphy, the subsequent Hourihane goal was a real gut punch for the 2021 beaten finalists.
Their entire 0-11 first half tally came from play, 0-8 of which was supplied by the inside line of Robbie Cotter (0-4), Eric Hegarty (0-2), and Adam Hennessy (0-2).
Skibb, meanwhile, were far more reliant on frees, with four of their five-point total before the goal coming from the dead-ball accuracy of Kevin Davis.
Skibb twice closed to the minimum early in the second period, but no equaliser could they find.
Is this the year Michael’s finally join the top table of Cork football?
R Cotter (1-6, 0-2 frees); A Hennessy (0-4); E O’Donovan (1-1); L O’Herlihy, E Hegarty (0-3 each); T Lenihan (0-2); A Murphy, D Meaney (0-1 each).
K Davis (0-5, 0-4 frees); D Hourihane (1-2); D Shannon (1-1); D Óg Hodnett (0-2); T Hegarty (0-1).
M Burke; D Corkery, S Keating, P Cunningham; T Lenihan, J Golden, A O’Callaghan; A Murphy, D Meaney; E Hickey, K Hegarty, D Lenihan; A Hennessy, R Cotter, E Hegarty.
L O’Herlihy for Hickey (6 mins, inj); B Cain for Murphy (33); E O’Donovan for Lenihan (43); L O’Sullivan for K Hegarty (52); M O’Keeffe for O’Herlihy (58).
R Price; D O’Donovan, D Daly, B Minihane; M Collins, P Crowley, K Hurley; R Byrne, D Óg Hodnett; N Daly, D Shannon, E Connolly; D Hourihane, K Davis, T Hegarty.
O Lucey for O’Donovan (HT); B Crowley for Connolly (38); D Hazel for Collins (44); L Connolly for N Daly (51); E O’Connell for Hegarty (56).