By Declan Barron
After eighty minutes of non stop hurling it was Ballincollig who emerged victorious at Riverstown on last Saturday evening in the first round of the Evening Echo premier intermediate hurling championship. Referee Michael O’Mahony could well have blown up after Bill Cooper’s tremendous equalising point for Youghal in the final minute of extra time but in time added on in extra time, corner back Liam Jennings became the hero for Ballincollig as he landed the winning point to break the hearts of the Youghal boys who had fought tooth and nail throughout a great contest.
Both of these sides are expected to figure in the closing stages of this championship and while Youghal will now have to go the long way round, I expect them to recover from this defeat and feature again later on. There were some tremendous displays on both sides with Brendan Ring, unerring all night, Brett Moloney 0-5 from play, Nigel Roche, Bill Cooper, Conor Spillane and Brendan O’Sullivan all catching the eye for Youghal, while Rory Doherty, Conor Sexton, Ciáran O’Sullivan, Colin Harris, Stephen O’Donoghue and Liam Jennings were all top class for the winners.
There was little to choose between the sides throughout with the wind favouring Youghal in the first half and they used it to good effect with Brendan Ring from free’s and Brett Moloney showing to good effect. Bill Cooper too came up with a smashing goal on eight minutes and followed it up with a point to help Youghal to a 1-7 to 0-2 lead after a good first quarter. By half time the Youghal advantage was still seven points as Ballincollig had a good second quarter matching Youghal score for score with Conor Sexton, Niall Allen and Rory Doherty on target as Youghal led by 1-10 to 0-6 at the interval. It took a great save from Eoin Coleman to deny David Bowen a goal, but with the strength of the breeze the half time Youghal lead was far from secure.
On the resumption Ballincollig with two subs on began to make inroads into the Youghal lead as Rory Doherty and Conor Sexton shot four points between them while Emmett Ryle lost a good chance of a goal as Ballincollig were right back in the contest. The lead was back to a point at the three quarter stage as Rory Doherty edged Ballincollig closer with Brett Moloney eventually getting Youghal off the mark in the 47th minute with his 4th point from play. With ten minutes remaining the sides were level at 1-12 each after Ronan O’Driscoll shot to the net as the Youghal defence were under pressure, with goalkeeper Eoin Coleman having to hurry a clearance which went to O’Driscoll, who shot to the net for Ballincollig who then hit the front for the second time in the contest with Conor Sexton putting them ahead with a point from play.
Youghal had to dig deep with Brett Moloney coming up trumps again before Colin Harris looked to have won it for Ballincollig in normal time. Nigel Roche won a free for Youghal and the unerring Brendan Ring slotted over to send the game into extra time.
Youghal were now wind assisted again in the opening period and four Ring points added to another from Bill Cooper to just two from David Bowen and Doherty, left Youghal ahead by 1-20 to 1-17 after the first ten minutes of extra time.
On the turnover Brendan Ring put Youghal four to the good with a great point from play but back came Ballincollig with Rory Doherty breaking through to score a second goal for the Muskerry outfit. Emmett Ryle brought the sides level again before Rory Doherty converted from a 65 conceded under pressure by Coleman. Time was now almost up as Youghal chased an equaliser with Bill Cooper striking over from an acute angle to tie the scores once more. Extra time was up but referee Michael O’Mahony allowed play to continue with Youghal holding out until a clearance fell around midfield was picked up by Liam Jennings who slotted over the winning point for Ballincollig, much to the delight of their fans. It was heartbreak for Youghal as the final whistle sounded on the puck out to bring this tremendous contest to a finish.
Youghal will now await the loser from the Watergrasshill / Tracton contest in the second round in a few weeks time.
Youghal: B Ring 0-11, B Moloney 0-5, B Cooper 1-3, A Curtin 0-2 and Barry Ring 0-1.
Ballincollig: R Doherty 1-10, R O’Driscoll 1-0, C Sexton 0-4, C O’Sullivan, D Bowen, C Harris, N Allen, E Ryle and L Jennings 0-1 each.
Youghal: E Coleman, M Cronin, J Grace, B O’Sullivan, K Walsh, C Spillane, B Coleman, N Roche, B Ring, B Moloney, B Cooper, J Ormonde, A Curtin, B Ring and L Desmond. Subs used R Cunningham, J O’Mahony, C O’Mahony and S Twomey.
Ballincollig: F Kelly, L Jennings, N Galvin, JP Murphy, C Harris, S O’Donoghue, C O’Connor, C O’Sullivan, J O’Brien, N Allen, R Doherty, D Bowen, F Hickey, R O’Driscoll and C Sexton. Subs used A O’Donovan, E Ryle and K Kelleher.
Referee: Michael O’Mahony, Kilbrittain.