AFTER leading for most of the game, Macroom were almost dumped out of the county PIFC by Valley Rovers at Pairc Uí Rinn last week.
The Mid-Cork men conceded five points on the trot during the last ten minutes to fall behind by the minimum before corner-forward David Horgan popped up to earn them a reprieve in stoppage time.
The drama didn't end there, however, as David Goold had a last-gasp attempt to break the deadlock waved wide, much to the annoyance of the Macroom attacker, who vehemently protested that his shot had crept inside the posts. Given that the umpires hesitated momentarily before making the call, Goold could well have had a valid claim, but one would have to say that Valley Rovers, if only because of their spirited late rally, deserved a second bite of the cherry.
Backed by a strong wind, Macroom were very quick to make the running, forging 0-4 to 0-1 ahead during the opening quarter. David Goold, Ivan Casey and Fintan Goold all chipped in with good points from play in this period when Macroom's dominance in the half back line was a key factor in their early superiority.
Flanked by Sean Kiely and Ciaran Murphy, Fintan Goold was regularly seen to good effect at centre back, but he was switched to midfield after 19 minutes in a bid to counter the aerial supremacy enjoyed by Chris O'Donovan and Kevin Canty in this sector for Valley Rovers. It achieved the desired result, and, with Sean Kiely, moved from the right wing, slotting in smoothly in the pivotal berth, Macroom remained on top until half-time.
David Goold carried the main threat up front for Macroom in the first half, slotting over three tasty points and providing a precision cross which yielded another from Sean Kiely. Valley Rovers were totally reliant on ever-dangerous corner forward John Cottrell for scores until impressive wing back Jack Lyons got in on the act to make it 0-6 to 0-4 after 22 minutes.
In view of the strength of the wind, the Innishannon men would have been reasonably satisfied with the situation at that stage, but Macroom finished the first half strongly, and they were full value for an 0-8 to 0-4 advantage at the interval. Macroom restarted with David Goold on the '40 where he got little change from dependable Valley Rovers centre back Tim Cummins, and it wasn't until the 47th. minute. minute that they registered their first score from play after the interval.
That came from wing back Ciaran Murphy, and it was quickly followed by another from Patrick Lucey, who completed a well-worked move involving Sean Kiely, substitute Andrew Hegarty and Barry O'Donnell.
It took a splendid save by 'keeper James O'Connell to deny Valley Rovers Fiachra Lynch an equalising goal in the 32nd. minute, but Macroom, after stretching the gap to five points courtesy of converted frees by Patrick Lucey and Fintan Goold, squandered a few chances to tighten the screw in the third quarter, with Fintan Goold off-target from a free and Andrew Hegarty shooting wide with a couple of efforts from play.
Lynch, kept on a tight rein by Macroom full back Rory Buckley in the first half, was much more involved on going to midfield in a switch with Kevin Canty, who proved more of a handful for Buckley after the interval. Still, Macroom, with Fintan Goold keeping the flag flying at midfield, and Sean Kiely motoring well at centre back, looked capable of grinding out a victory after Patrick Lucey's point pushed them 0-12 to 0-8 ahead approaching the last ten minutes.
Full credit to Valley Rovers, they didn't drop their heads after wing forward Hugh O'Donovan blasted a golden opportunity over the bar, and, with speedy corner forward Jack Murphy particularly prominent, they managed to hit the front for the first time in the 59th minute. But David Horgan's late point ensured that Macroom, who were involved in a relegation play-off last year, emerged from the fray with their hopes of a place in the county final intact.
Macroom: P Lucey 0-4, 0-3 frees, D Goold 0-3, F Goold 0-2, 0-1 free, I Casey, S Kiely, C Murphy and D Horgan 0-1 each
Valley Rovers: J Cottrell 0-5, 0-2 frees, H O'Donovan 0-2, 0-1 free, D Murphy 0-2, J Lyons, K Canty, E Fallon and J Murphy 0-1 each
Macroom: J O'Connell, R O'Dwyer, R Buckley, M O'Donnell, S Kiely, F Goold, C Murphy, P Corrigan, E O'Mahony, B O'Donnell, I Casey, T Dineen, P Lucey, D Goold, D Horgan Subs: P Lynch for O'Dwyer (injured), A Hegarty for Dineen, G Angland for O'Donnell
Valley Rovers: A Quirke, N O'Donovan, D Lynch, J Lynch, J Lyons, T Cummins, D Crowley, K Canty, C O'Donovan, H O'Donovan, D Murphy, M Power, J Cottrell, F Lynch, J Murphy Sub: E Fallon for H O'Donovan
Referee: M Collins (Clonakilty)