On a horrendous night for football only the gap on the scoreboard managed to stir the interest of the paltry crowd present as Douglas scrambled at the finish to deprive Na Piarsaigh of a levelling point.
The 2008 beaten finalists were forced to sweat in the closing moments as they clung to the one-point advantage, after Finbarr Desmond capped off a flowing team move with a fine score. But Douglas should never have had to suffer such anxiety.
This was a night where their touch deserted them in front of the posts. They chalked up 15 wides over the hour, ten of those in the first half and rectifying that statistic will be top of their agenda.
In general though, their play was impressive. Defensively they were well-organised and Ger Noonan’s goal inside 40 seconds was the only score that Na Piarsaigh notched from play all night.
Cillian Hogan got to grips with the considerable threat of Noonan after a nervous start while Eoin Cotter and Jonathan Lane controlled play from their wing-back berths.
But Eoin Cadogan at centre-back was most instrumental in fashioning this success for Douglas. He drove his team on with powerful runs and frequently bounded on to kickouts from Na Piarsaigh goalkeeper Dean Power. At times when Douglas looked like getting discouraged by their woeful shooting, Cadogan displayed the leadership that saw them hang in there.
Na Piarsaigh were not far off the mark in altering this result. They came agonisingly close in the 61st minute to sending this match into extra-time when John Gardiner’s 60-yard free struck against the upright.
The spirit and determination that have become classic traits of Na Piarsaigh’s footballers were very much in evidence. They had a bunch of young and enthusiastic players who worked hard around the pitch all night while Sean Óg Ó hAilpín was a model of composure at centre-back.
However a lack of scoring power has seriously afflicted Na Piarsaigh in recent seasons and it surfaced again here. They never managed to raise a white flag from open play and only notched one point in the closing 46 minutes.
Their one shining light in that department was John Gardiner. His lack of regular football due to Cork senior hurling duties never seems to affect him and he swept over some fabulous points from dead balls in testing conditions. With Gardiner to the fore, Na Piarsaigh were 1-2 to 0-0 ahead by the 14th minute. The early goal from Noonan a product of enterprising work by Keith Buckley and at the break Na Piarsaigh were still in the ascendancy by 1-2 to 0-3.
However Douglas were motoring better around the pitch and that came to bear after the break. The introduction of Cormac Dineen to midfield midway through the first-half was an astute switch as he helped established dominance. Douglas improved their kicking as well with three points in succession.
Corner-forwards Finbarr Desmond and Mark Harrington emerged as their best attacking options while Odhran Mulrooney was industrious when shifted to centre-forward. Na Piarsaigh’s continued foraging kept Douglas on their guard but they just got over the line at the end.
Scorers for Douglas: F Desmond 0-3 (1f), M Harrington 0-2 (1f), C Dineen, O Mulrooney 0-1 each.
Scorers for Na Piarsaigh: G Noonan 1-0, J Gardiner 0-3 (2f, 1 45).
DOUGLAS: B Boyle; P Shine, C Hogan, J Collins; E Cotter, E Cadogan, J Lane; A Barry, R Murphy; T Sheehan, B Fitzgerald, N Heffernan; M Harrington, O Mulrooney, F Desmond.
Subs: C Dineen for Heffernan (18).
NA PIARSAIGH: D Power; A Dennehy, D McNamara, E Moynihan; P Rourke, S Óg Ó’hAilpín, C Joyce; P Gould, T Miller; P Moran, K Buckley, C O’Mahony; A Keating, G Noonan, J Gardiner.
Subs: J McDonnell for Miller (43), I McDonnell for O’Mahony (48), S Duggan for Moran (48).
Referee: Ger Sweeney (Glenville)