There is nothing like perseverance and it worked for Millstreet to hold off a trademark Adrigole resurgence in their County IFC Relegation play-off replay in Dunmanway on Sunday last.
The road to recovery is a bumpy ride and debutants Millstreet taking the field on a date that marked their County JAFC triumph last season relied on a hat trick of goals from full forward Tadgh Collins to sway the outcome to another tussle of contrasting fortunes.
Replays seldom follow suit of the drawn encounter but this came remarkably close to an extraordinary first game. From a tussle of penalties, scored and missed in addition to tensions boiling over, Millstreet again appeared to coasting after Collins confidently despatched a pair of spot kicks in the opening half to build up a nine point interval advantage.
However Adrigole rose to the daunting task to eat into the deficit and holding a numerical grip in terms of personal on the field, they had Millstreet on the backfoot midway through the second half. With the margin down to three points, Adrigole appeared well positioned to create inroads.
Given the status of the relegation scenario, nervous passages of play followed with both sides guilty of wasted opportunities. And for the second consecutive game, Millstreet had real difficulty to find the target after the break, waiting until the closing stages to register their lone score of the half.
On this occasion, the flag raised was of paramount importance, the influential Michael Vaughan centred for Collins to flick home at the far post. That goal decided the outcome, Millstreet relieved to retain their intermediate status, disappointment for Adrigole, regraded to junior ranks for the first time since 2006.
Millstreet held the early territorial advantage though for a spell, a lone Michael Vaughan point from a free proved Millstreet's lone contribution to the scoreboard. Subsequently, both sides enjoyed spells of dominance yet defences on top resulted in stalemate.
However Millstreet got back on track to regain the initiative, confirmed on points to James Broxton and Denis Kiely. Adrigole attempted to play their way into the proceedings, Kevin Goggin, blasting wide before David Harrington opened their account on a neat point in the 15th minute.
That score lifted the men from the peninsula, Kevin Ger O'Sullivan added on a pointed free. Millstreet answered on a positive note, winning a penalty in the 18th minute, a foul on Mark Ellis saw a black card incurred by defender Kieran O'Sullivan before Collins despatched the ball to the net.
Now Millstreet held a far greater tempo and urgency about their game with Beircheart O'Connor, Paul Sheehan and Patrick Randles solid in defence as Patrick Coleman and Ellis grafted effectively in the centre. And going forward, Michael Vaughan, Broxton and Collins posed a growing threat.
Collins saw a point cancelled out by O'Sullivan yet Millstreet's position was strengthened on further points to Vaughan and Ellis. Indeed, Millstreet called the shots, their prospects took on a rosy after gaining a second penalty after Collins was pulled down.
Further calamity for Adrigole, goalkeeper William O'Sullivan black carded and the first task for substitute Jamie O'Sullivan was to pick the ball out of the net after Collins converted into the roof of the net.
In fairness, Adrigole attempted to recover from a series of body blows, themselves gaining a penalty on a foul on Goggin only for Millstreet 'keeper Denny Twomey to brilliantly turn Tom Joe O'Sullivan's pile-driver around the post.
Trailing 2-6 to 0-3, a trademark Adrigole comeback was instigated by the encouraging efforts of Cian O'Neill, Barry Goggin, Paul Green, Darragh Carey and O'Sullivan. A productive spell yielded points to Goggin, Carey and David Harrington.
Signs ominous for Millstreet in a repeat pattern to the drawn tussle, Adrigole upping the ante. Indeed tempers boiled over and from a flash point, Millstreet were at a numerical disadvantage on a red card for Michael Murphy.
And Adrigole were right back in the hunt, Harrington netting a goal to come within sight of their opponents, 2-6 to 1-6 at the three quarter mark. Indeed, Adrigole pressed on but faulty shooting limited further progress on the scoreboard.
Millstreet without a score were clearly under the cosh but appeared to weather the storm. However, in the tension filled exchanges, Millstreet passed on a number of opportunities with a series of wides.
Still Millstreet stayed with their task, eventually rewarded at the end of regulation time. It all stemmed from an Adrigole free, well within the compass of the rearguard from Goggin, falling short and the ball immediately transferred up field where Vaughan's inviting delivery saw Collins flick to the net to complete his hat trick. Adrigole did have the closing say from a point by O'Sullivan yet their hopes were firmly extinguished.
No fanfare at the last shrill of the long whistle, frustration for Adrigole, relief for Millstreet summed the occasion at Sam Maguire Park.
MILLSTREET: D Twomey; D Linehan, C Feeley, B O'Connor; L Murphy, P Sheehan, P Randles; P Coleman, M Ellis 0-1; M Murphy, M Vaughan 0-2f, O Murphy; T Collins 3-1, Denis Kiely 0-1, J Broxton 0-1. Subs: J Linehan for Coleman(45), Darren Kiely for O Murphy (51, bc).
ADRIGOLE: W O'Sullivan; K O'Sullivan, T O'Shea, C O'Neill; A J O'Sullivan; S O'Shea, B Goggin; D Carey 0-1 P Green; G Green, D Harrington 1-1, L Harrmgton; K Goggin 0-1f, K J O'Sullivan 0-4 (3f), T J O'Sullivan. Subs: P B O'Sullivan for K O'Sullivan (17, bc), J O'Sullivan for W O'Sullivan (26, bc), J Goggin for G Green (42, bc).
Referee: D Murnane (Macroom)