For Knocknagree, the fairytale continues after two late points from Eoghan McSweeney and a Fintan O’Connor free edged them into the final of the Bons Secours Cork SAFC at the expense of Clyda Rovers after a dramatic evening’s entertainment in Pairc Uí Chaoimh.
In that final they will play St Michael’s and the Duhallow men will be thankful for the intervention of a post that helped them on their way to victory here. They trailed by 1-11 to 0-13 with ten to play when McSweeney took aim from underneath the North Stand. His effort looked to be sailing over but it cam back off the post where O’Connor was waiting to slot the ball home.
When Matthew Dilworth followed it up with his third score of the evening, Clyda’s goose looked cooked but they’re raised tougher than that out Mourneabbey way as they reeled off three points through Conor Corbett, James Buckley and Kevin Coffey to level the game for the sixth time.
But in the last few minutes it was McSweeney and O’Connor who saw Knocknagree home despite a late effort from Chris Buckley.
This game was eventful from the start as both teams played with a sense of freedom, moving the ball quickly from end-to-end as they shared six points evenly between them inside the first six minutes. Clyda had the odd score on each occasion through Eoin Walsh, Dan O’Callaghan and Conor Corbett while a Denis R O’Connor point for Knocknagree was sandwiched by two Niall O’Connor efforts to leave them tied at 0-3 each.
Successive scores from Walsh and Kevin Graham then pushed Clyda two clear before Knocknagree replied in kind through Michael McSweeney and Fintan O’Connor to level the game for the fourth time at 0-5 apiece at the end of the opening quarter.
Knocknagree had assigned the task of keeping tabs on Corbett to Daniel O’Mahony, but the Clyda prodigy looked in the mood as he slipped his side clear again with a sweet score off his left. A point from Conor Flanagan and a ’45 from O’Callaghan then put daylight between the sides for the first time as the Duhallow men’s radar began to malfunction with their wide count hitting five to Clyda’s one.
A Fintan O’Connor free got them going again and though Graham immediately cancelled it out for Clyda, it was Knocknagree who finished the half the stronger with points from Denis R O’Connor and McSweeney to leave them trailing by one, 0-9 to 0-8 at the interval.
Knocknagree carried that form into the second half, with O’Mahony setting up scores for Fintan O’Connor and Mathew Dlilworth to take the lead for the first time while they also introduced their Cork player, Eoghan McSweeney, from the bench. For their part, Clyda were beginning to worry about their own accuracy as they kicked four successive wides to match Knocknagree’s four successive points.
Niall O’Connor then extended Knocknagree’s sequence as Clyda struggled to get a grip and they were thankful that a foray forward from Cian O’Sullivan ended up with their first score of the half.
They were even happier moments later when Darragh Buckley surged forward before squaring for Graham who palmed home the game’s opening goal. The sides then traded scores through Dilworth and Walsh to leave Clyda leading by 1-11 to 0-12 entering the final quarter.
Fintan O’Connor then narrowed it to one, and then came his goal that, eventually, sparked them to a famous victory.
F O’Connor (1-5, 0-3 frees, 0-1 mark), M Dilworth and N O’Connor (0-3 each), M McSweeney, DR O’Connor (0-1 mark) and E McSweeney (0-2 each).
K Graham (1-2), C Corbett and E Walsh (0-2 frees) (0-3 each), D O’Callaghan (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 ’45), C O’Sullivan, C Flanagan, K Coffey, C Buckley and J Buckley (0-1 each).
P Doyle; M Doyle, K Buckley, G O’Connor; D Cooper, D O’Mahony, M Mahoney; G Looney, M McSweeney; F O’Connor (c), M Dilworth, D Moynihan; DR O’Connor, D O’Connor, N O’Connor. E McSweeney for Moynihan (36), J Dennehy for Dilworth (56), T O’Connor for M Doyle (58).
S Dennehy; A Walsh, C Kenny (c), D Buckley; M Forde, S Kelly, C O’Sullivan; D Walsh, C Flanagan; K Graham, C Corbett, D Cooney; P Kissane, D O’Callaghan, E Walsh. N Hanley for Cooney (41), C O’Reilly for Buckley (46), J Buckley for O’Sullivan and K Coffey for Flanagan (both 52), C Buckley for Graham (57).
Pa O’Driscoll (Bride Rovers).