MIDWAY through the second half of the county Under 21 'B' football championship final at Pairc Uí Rinn last Saturday evening, it seemed as if Kildorrey were on course to deliver the goods against fancied Muskerry standard-bearers Iveleary.
Having reduced a sevenpoint deficit to the minimum, the North-Cork side had built up serious momentum at that juncture, and, with a fresh breeze behind them, they had every reason to fancy their chances, but Iveleary, relieved not to fall behind after corner-back Alan O'Brien cleared a shot from Kildorrery's Anthony Palmer off the line in the 43th minute dug deep to arrest their slide, with the impact made by Cork minor Cathal Vaughan up front doing much to ease them to victory in the closing stages.
Overall, Iveleary were the better side, and they certainly held most of the aces in the first half when Vaughan, David Hourihane and Denis O'Leary made their presence felt in attack, Barry Murphy stood out at wing back, and Shane Galvin was particularly influential at midfield. Despite wasting a string of chances, Iveleary led by 1-3 to 0-1 after Vaughan converted a penalty, won by Hourihane, in the 11th. minute, and they had stretched the gap to seven points courtesy of scores from O'Leary and Murphy approaching half time.
After Shane Landers bagged a sublime point to earn Kildorrey parity, 0-1 to 0-1, in the fifth minute, they were forced to endure 23 barren minutes before John McEniry added to their tally with another excellent score. With Michael Lillis doing well at full back on Vaughan, and Finbarr Stapleton and especially James O'Sullivan working hard in the half forward line, however, Kildorrery showed signs they were ready to make a fight of it as the first half drew to a close.
A converted free by David Kelly left them trailing by 1-5 to 0-3 at the interval, but the picture looked bleak for Kildorrery again after Iveleary's Cathal Vaughan and Denis O'Leary shared a brace of early points on the resumption The trend of the play changed dramatically after that as Kildorrery really got motoring, with the switch of centre back Cormac Boyle to midfield yielding rich dividends
Boyle, along with William Fuohy gave Kildorrery an edge here, and as they piled on the pressure, James O'Sullivan and the dynamic Shane Landers began to cause a lot of problems for the Iveleary rearguard.
Landers knocked over two scores on the trot, and Boyle chipped in with another before Landers sent O'Sullivan through for a cracking goal which left Kildorrery snapping at Iveleary's heels, 1-7 to 1-6, after 41 minutes.
Two minutes later, however, Iveleary's Alan O'Brien was on hand to deny Kildorrery's Anthony Palmer a goal, and perhaps that had a crucial bearing on the outcome. Whether or which, Iveleary seemed to draw inspiration from the let-off, and the decision to move Cathal Vaughan from full forward to the '40 gave them a fresh impetus when the crunch came Kildorrery trailed by the minimum again after a pointed free by Vaughan was negated by a sublime score from play by James O'Sullivan in the 47th. minute, but the Avondhu kingpins failed to raise another flag before the finish.
By contrast, Iveleary reeled off six points in a row, four of which came from Vaughan, who thundered back into the picture, as did Shane Galvin at midfield, while Shane O'Leary and Barry Twomey did much to power the winners forward from the half back line on the run-in. While Iveleary were flattered by their winning margin in a contest containing an excellent standard of football, Kildorrery mentor Joe Sherlock admitted the better team won.
"We knew Iveleary were going to be strong after they scored something like 27 points in their semi final game, and it was unfortunate that we took so long to settle in the first half. We got on top in the third quarter, and we thought we could get there after we brought the lead down to a point, but we couldn't keep the momentum going, and, in fairness to Iveleary, they played some great football to pull away in the closing stages," he said.