Dromtariffe pull off a coup thanks to rousing finish
County JAFC Final - Dromtariffe 2-9 Kilmacabea 2-8
One would have given little for Dromtariffe's chances midway through the second half of the county junior football championship final at Páirc Ui Rinn last Saturday evening.
Not alone did they trail Kilmacabea by five points at that juncture, but they had yet to register a score after the interval, so the prospect of a comeback by the Duhallow side looked extremely remote.
They were thrown a lifeline in the 45th minute, however, when substitute Darren O'Connor goaled, following good work by Adam Buckley and Seamus O'Sullivan, who had been switched from midfield to full-forward in a bid to boost their fortunes up front.
It turned out to be a master-stroke on the part of the Dromtariffe management, as, after Kilmacabea responded with a brace of points which appeared to get them back on track, the towering O'Sullivan set super-sub O'Connor up for another goal in the 53rd minute.
That attack was initiated by Conor O'Callaghan, who had an outstanding match, and was particularly influential in driving Dromtariffe forward from midfield where he teamed up with Adam Buckley after O'Sullivan had been redeployed at the edge of the square.
It meant that Dromtarrife benefited on the double from the second half reshuffle and in a gripping conclusion, they nudged ahead, courtesy of a point from centre-back Jack Murphy, in the 60th minute.
Denis O'Donoghue, Adam Buckley and substitute Jack Buckley were involved in the move that led to Murphy breaking the deadlock with what proved to be the decisive score after Kilmacabea squandered a few chances to get back on terms in stoppage time.
That it didn't look on the cards for most of the hour, Dromtariffe's victory probably tasted all the sweeter, and, in view of their unwavering resolve and never-say-die attitude, it would be churlish to suggest they weren't worthy winners.
They began brightly in the first half, with Evan Murphy and David O'Keeffe, from a free, on target before they were rocked back on their heels when Kilmacabera corner-forward Ian Jennings fisted a long-range free by Daniel O'Donovan to the net inside eight minutes.
Although Shane Collins quickly equalised from a free, Dromtariffe hopes went steadily into decline during the opening quarter, and it was obvious they had a major uphill battle on their hands after Kilmacabea grabbed a second goal in the 16th minute.
It was claimed by corner forward Tim Nyhan, who on hand to apply the finish after Richie O'Sullivan's initial goal-attempt had been saved superbly by Dromtariffe 'keeper Dan Mann.
Nyhan quickly tacked ón a point to make it 2-3 to 0-4, but Dromtarrife managed to arrest their slide as the first half progressed, with their defence putting up the shutters to such an extent that Kilmacabea didn't add to their tally until classy full-forward Damien Gore pointed seconds before the half-time whistle.
In the interim, David O'Keeffe had put three points, including one sublime effort from play, on the board for Dromtariffe, who received a further boost nearing half-time when excellent custodian Mann deflected a Dan O'Donovan penalty, won by Ian Jennings, outside the posts.
Although Damien Gore latched on to the resultant '45 to complete the first scoring for Kilmacabea, who turned over leading by 2-4 to 0-7, it would almost certainly have spelt disaster for Dromtariffe had they conceded a third goal before the interval.
As it was, they struggled to get to grips with Kilmacabea's vibrant challenge in the third quarter, but they showed their character when the crunch came, displaying courage, resolve and conviction in abundance to haul themselves back from the brink in a thrilling finale.
Dromtariffe: D Mann; C Cronin, S Howard, T Howard; C Mahony, J Murphy, B O'Keeffe; ABuckley, S O'Sullivan; E Murphy, D O'Donoghue, M Healy; C O'Callaghan, S Collins, D O'Keeffe Subs: M O'Connor for Healy, 21, J Buckley for T Howard, 37, D O'Connor for Collins, 44, G Murphy for O'Sullivan (injured), 62
Kilmacabea: M O'Neill; S O'Driscoll, N Hayes, D Whooley; Donie O'Donovan, C Sweetnam, D McCarthy; Daniel O'Donovan, M Collins; D O'Callaghan, R O'Sullivan, J Collins; I Jennings, D Gore, T Nyhan Subs: G O'Donovan for Nyhan, 48, D Lynch for O'Sullivan, 48, L Thompson for J Collins, 54, C O'Donovan for O'Driscoll, 59
Referee: P O'Leary (Kilmurry)