After fifty five years Fermoy hit the ground running
County SFC Round 1: Fermoy 1-9 Castlehaven 0-11
Fermoy's Martin Brennan scored an injury-time winner as the club returned to the senior ranks in style after a 55-year absence.
At Brinny on Sunday, Fermoy only trailed after Cathal Maguire's opening point for Castlehaven, with Kieran Morrison's fourth-minute goal ultimately proving to be the difference.
Immediately after the goal, the Castletownshend / Union Hall side were reduced to fourteen men as Ciarán O'Sullivan was sent off for an incident as Fermoy goalkeeper Liam Coleman prepared to take a 45. While they would bring the game level late in the second half, they weren't able to forge in front.
Fermoy manager Mick Hennessy was fully of praise for his team.
"We believe in ourselves," he said.
"Yes, we're just up from premier intermediate and we're under no illusions, we're not going to go in and tear thing apart, but we'll go bit-by-bit. We came to Brinny on Sunday with a mentality that we were going to win and you could see with those guys walking off, they had done their job, they came down to win it.
"Castlehaven are a good team, I'm sure they'll be waiting for us later on, but it was a great performance.
"We got hit, we had a couple of injuries during the week and another fella had to pull out during the warm-up, but the strength in depth is phenomenal. I super proud of everyone."
When play resumed after the red card, Coleman landed the '45 and though the Haven replied with scores from Maguire and Mark Collins, they couldn't establish parity in the first half.
With centre-back Darragh O'Carroll setting the tone with an assured display and Cork's Tomás Clancy prominent at midfield, Fermoy kept things steady and a superb point from Morrison on 24 minutes, following good build-up play from Brian O'Sullivan, Pádraig de Róiste and Ruairí O'Hagan, left it 1-4 to 0-5.
Collins replied with his third from a tight angle after a nice Haven move, but O'Hagan's free, which he won himself, ensured that there was a two-point half-time lead.
Clancy's second point put Fermoy a goal ahead on the resumption, but Castlehaven replied again, Collins with a free which had been brought in and then another after Damien Cahalane's driving run was illegally ended.
A black card for Maguire dented the Haven's momentum, but Fermoy couldn't capitalise as their wides tally mounted. Martin Brennan pointed to make it 1-7 to 0-8 on 40 but it was their last score for ten minutes and Collins notched another Haven free before Michael Hurley - unable to start but brought on - made an impact with a fine score to level
In the 57th minute, a superb Pádraig de Róiste free from the left put Fermoy in front again, but the Haven almost forged back in front in the final minute of normal time. After exchanging passes with Collins, Damien Cahalane surged towards goal.
As things opened up, he went for three points but Coleman saved well with his leg. Play was brought back, however, and Collins's free left people expecting extra time.
A Damien Cahalane run might have yielded a chance to win it from a free but none was forthcoming and when Fermoy forced a turnover, the Haven were reduced to thirteen as John O'Regan was sent off. Keeping the pressure on, Fermoy worked the ball to Brennan, who notched the decisive score.
"We spoke about it before and at half-time, no goals conceded would win the game," Hennessy said, "and that's the way it proved.
"Goals win games and we did very well. They had some strong runners coming through and it was a case of 'Don't take them down!' because the keeper [Paudie Hurley] was on form with their frees."
Ultimately, composure and game-management stood to Fermoy, who now move safely into the third round without the need to worry about the back door. Hennessy is looking forward to the coming summer, once he and the players benefit from a break after the club's PIHC first-round clash with Courcey Rovers on April 28.
"They showed fierce character," he said.
"I know everyone wants the ball to go forward at a hundred miles an hour, but there are times when you have to keep it and I thought we managed the game very well. We'll take a break after the hurling for a couple of weeks and then we'll drive on after that.
"It's great that we're looking at a third round now rather than a second round. I'm so proud of the boys, I won't lie, I was a bit emotional there at the time. It's fantastic, coming up here, facing Castlehaven, scalp, focus, fantastic."
Fermoy: Liam Coleman (0-1, '45); Eoin Clancy, Joshua Payne, Pádraig Clancy; Brian O'Sullivan, Darragh O'Carroll, Alan Baragry; Shane Aherne, Tomás Clancy (0-2); Daniel O'Flynn (0-1), Pádraig de Róiste (0-1f), Dale Dawson; Martin Brennan (0-2), Ruairí O'Hagan (0-1f), Kieran Morrison (1-1) Subs: Alan O'Connor for O'Hagan (46), Ronan Morrison for Clancy (54)
Castlehaven: Paudie Hurley (0-1f); John O'Regan, Ronan Walsh, Ciarán O'Sullivan; Chris Hayes, Damien Cahalane, Roland Whelton; Mark Collins (0-7, 4f), Darragh Cahalane; Shane Hurley, Cathal Maguire (0-2), Jamie Walsh; Seán Cahalane, Conor Cahalane, Conor Nolan Subs: Michael Hurley (0-1) for Nolan (36), Seán Dineen for Maguire (38, black card), Kevin O'Donovan for S Hurley (54)
Referee: Cormac Dineen (Douglas)