Late O’Connor point keeps Douglas in hunt

Douglas 1-16 Glen Rovers 1-16
When games end in stalemate which team goes home the happier?

At full-time in Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday, Douglas players and management wore the broadest smiles after ace marksman Mark O’Connor’s equalising point on 60 minutes ensured a replay next weekend to decide who’ll face Sarsfield in the 2014 Cork county SHC final.

Douglas might even have snatched victory deep in injury time had the exciting Alan Cadogan not fired a golden chance wide while, minutes earlier, his Cork team-mate, Stephen Moylan, will wonder what might have been had his goal-bound shot not been blocked heroically by the brilliant Shane Kennifick.

“There’s great spirit in this side to come back,” beamed Douglas manager Cathal Collins afterwards.

“Each team has their time in a game: the Glen had theirs and we had ours. But we’ve done it all year and came back again here today.”

Leading by six points with 13 minutes remaining, the Glen looked a good bet for a final slot but Douglas discovered another gear in a match that really only caught fire in the final quarter. After half time substitute, Odhran Mulrooney burst through a huge chasm in the Glen defence to fire home a sweet goal in the 49th minute that cameo helped rekindle the dying embers of a mediocre semi-final clash as Douglas suddenly rediscovered the fire and spirit that marked out their mesmerising performances in the championship’s previous two rounds.

Had Cadogan notched the winner, though, it would have been cruel on the Glen, who took six point leads in the 43rd and 47th minutes and, afterwards, trooped off disconsolately having allowed such commanding leads slip and having looked the more accomplished team for three quarters of the match.

Solid in defence where Gavin Moylan and Graham Callinan starred, edging the midfield battle where Donal Cronin provided telling leadership, while the introduction of super-sub Shane Kennifick (replacing his nephew Glenn) saw the veteran Blackpool clubman notch three memorable points as well as making that heroic block on Moylan’s rasper three minutes from time.

“On 45 minutes we thought we were going to win but Douglas showed tremendous character as we expected them to show,” said Glen selector Des Cullinane. “What we’re delighted with is the lads reacted and came back into the game again.

“It’s half time in this tie, it’s delicately poised and we’re happy. We learned a few things and they’ve learned a few things as well. It’s great to be still in the championship which is the important thing.”

While O’Connor’s nine points stole the headlines, the game’s other No. 14, Patrick Horgan — so often the hero on days like this — was kept scoreless from play, marked brilliantly by Eoin Cadogan. But, the decent attendance, were also treated to an absorbing head-to-head battle between Cork team-mates Stephen McDonnell and Alan Cadogan.

The Glen’s dominance found greatest expression in the opening quarter when logging a 1-6 to 0-2 lead, while Douglas seemed out-of-sorts, failing to match their opponents intensity in the tight exchanges.

Rovers’ positive start was down to their disciplined defence and midfield dominance while David Cunningham, creating havoc on the 45, took his fourth minute goal with aplomb, the opening created by Horgan who for once was able to escape the glue-like shadowing of Eoin Cadogan.

Douglas slowly began to gain parity in midfield, where Mark Harrington went on to play a hugely influential role for the southsiders as Alan Cadogan and O’Connor (two) added points to make it 1-6 to 0-5 by the 21st minute.

The four-point margin remained up until half time (1-8 to 0-7) with Horgan and O’Connor exchanging two frees apiece in a stop-start game that lacked fluency, was free-riddled but by no means was nasty in the close exchanges.

The Glen re-emerged intent to tie up business early and, with Shane Kennifick’s introduction providing more firepower in the wings and Dave Noonan and Callinan providing ballast and leadership in defence. And when Donal Cronin added his second in the 47th minute to make it 1-14 to 0-11, the Glen looked to be coasting to victory.

However Douglas didn’t panic and showed a remarkable togetherness and character to haul in the six margin. Scoring 1-4 without replay between the 48th and 55th minutes they managed to take the lead for only the first time, O’Connor’s two from play the scores of the match, one swept over his left shoulder 40 metres from under the covered stand.

The Glen responded in fine fashion with Noonan and Kennifick landing two sweet points to retake the lead, but O’Connor notched the equaliser at the end of normal time before Alan Cadogan’s chance at the death went agonisingly wide.

“We’re not going to go away,” added Collins afterwards. “It’s going to take a very good team to beat Douglas. That’s the character that’s in this team. They’re up for it and are not going to go away easily. But it’s only half time in this match.”

Scorers for Douglas: M O’Connor (0-9, 6fs), A Cadogan (0-3), O Mulrooney (1-0), M Collins, S Moylan, M Harrington, T Cullinane (0-1 each).

Scorers for Glen Rovers: D Cunningham (1-1), P Horgan (0-4, 3fs, 1 65), S Kennifick (0-3), D Cronin, D Noonan (0-2 each), D Brosnan, D Busteed, P Virgo, G Callinan (0-1 each).

DOUGLAS: T Delaney (capt); P Shine, C Lucey, F Tobin; M McGrath, E Cadogan, P Clarke; M Harrington, M O’Callaghan; S Moylan, J Moylan, M Collins; A Cadogan, M O’Connor, A Ward.

Subs: T Cullinane for Clarke (27), O Mulrooney for O’Callaghan (ht), E Dolan for Ward (48), J Collins for J Moylan (52).

GLEN ROVERS: C Hickey; D Dooling, S McDonnell, G Moylan; D Noonan, B Moylan, G Callinan (capt); D Cronin, G Kennifick; D Brosnan, D Cunningham, D Busteed; C Dorris, P Horgan, P Virgo.

Subs: S Kennifick for G Kennifick (inj. 34), B Phelan for Dorris (45), E O’Connell for Virgo (56).

Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg).


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