Kiskeam edged out by Ballinora
TO say that Kiskeam were visibly stunned at the end of this county PIFC second round encounter in Donoughmore last Sunday would be a gross understatement.
They went into the game as favourites, and they looked a class above the Mid-Cork side in the first half, as they cruised into an eight-point lead. With Tomas Dennehy and Padraig O'Leary dominating midfield, they virtually camped in the Ballinora half for much of the opening period when their sweet-moving attack carved out the openings with consummate ease and regularity.
Four points in as many minutes shared by Gene Casey, Tomas Dennehy, Tom O'Sullivan and Daniel Fitzgerald set the pattern for the lop-sided proceedings before the break when precious little passed AJ O'Connor, Donal Linehan and Sean Linehan in the Kiskeam half-back line.
On the few occasions Ballinora did manage to get the ball into the danger-zone, full-back Joe Dennehy was usually on hand to mop things up for the Duhallow men, who had Micheal Herlihy inflicting a lot of the damage up front as they forged 0-9 to 0-1 ahead before the interval.
Herlihy chipped in with three excellent points from play, but all six Kiskeam forwards showed up well, with Tom O'Sullivan, Gene Casey and Daniel Fitzgerald others especially impressive. The full extent of Kiskeam's superiority can be gauged from the fact that they clocked up six wides in the first half, whereas Ballinora had none, although they did go close to bagging a goal in stoppage time.
After Kiskeam's AJ O'Connor prevented a shot from Ballinora's Pat Fitton, who showed promise with limited possession at corner-forward, from crossing the line, however, it seemed as if the possibility of any sort of a decent contest unfolding had been dashed
While Ballinora improved significantly on the turnover, Kiskeam still appeared to have the situation under control after Gene Casey pointed to make it 0-11 to 0-4 with 44 minutes gone. What happened in the last quarter, however, was remarkable to say the least, as Ballinora became a transformed side following the boost of goal by centre-forward Gary O'Halloran in the 47th minute.
That brought them back within striking range, 0-11 to 1-5, and they really took flight from there, with Michael Hodge making a big impact around midfield where deep-lying wing-forward Ian Wycherley also got through an amount of effective work.
Others to spearhead Ballinora's dramatic recovery were wing-back Conor Murphy, corner-back Tim Crotty and full-forward Michael Murphy, not to mention wing-forward Ben Aherne, who slotted over four absolutely stunning points, the last of which tied things up at 1-8 to 0-11 in the 59th minute.
With Tomas Dennehy picking up a second yellow card, Kiskeam had been reduced to 14 players a minute earlier, but it seemed as if all of Ballinora's good work might be undone after full-back Brendan Hourihan committed an off-the-ball foul near the end.
It allowed substitute Billy Dennehy to restore the advantage to Kiskeam, but Michael Murphy replied with a good point from play to force extra-time. Kiskeam substitute David Scannell, who tried hard after being introduced at full-forward, did have a chance to break the deadlock in regulation time, but, much to Ballinora's relief, his effort rebounded off the upright.
There could be question as to which was the better team during the additional 20 minutes, with an early Ballinora goal from midfielder Aodain O'Connor – resulting from good work by Gary O'Halloran, Micheal Murphy and the ever-industrious Ian Wycherley – serving to completely shatter Kiskeam's conviction and resolve.
Aided by another goal from Murphy, with O'Halloran and Wycherley doing the spadework this time, Ballinora turned over 3-10 to 0-13 to the good, and they embellished a famous win with a couple of sublime points from Ben Ahern and Conor Murphy before the finish.
Ballinora: M Murphy 1-2, 0-1 free, B Ahern 0-5, A O'Connor 1-1, G O'Halloran 1-0, B Crowley, I Wycherley, P Fitton and C Murphy 0-1 each
Kiskeam: T O'Sullivan 0-4, 0-2 frees, M Herlihy 0-3, G Casey 0-2, T Dennehy, Daniel Fitzgerald, B Dennehy, free, and D Scannell 0-1 each
Ballinora: C O'Connor, D O'Neill, B Hourihan, T Crotty, C Murphy, B Crowley, T McGrath, M Hodge, A O'Connor, B Ahern, G O'Halloran, A O'Connor, P Fitton, M Murphy, C Brosnan Subs: J Lordan for Crowley, A O'Neill for Fitton, Fitton for O'Halloran
Kiskeam: A Casey, M Casey, J Dennehy, DJ Casey, AJ O'Connor, D Linehan, S Linehan, T Dennehy, P O'Leary, A Carroll, G Casey, Diarmuid Fitzgerald, Daniel Fitzgerald, T O'Sullivan, M Herlihy Subs: B Dennehy for Diarmuid Fitzgerald, D Scannell for Carroll, D O'Connor for S Linehan,, R Carroll (extra time replacement), A Carroll for D Linehan (injured), S O'Leary for Daniel Fitzgerald
Referee: T O'Donovan (Douglas)