The replay of the Cork JHC final provided another enthralling contest at Páirc Uí yesterday as Kildorrery snatched the honours in the a dramatic way.
The clock had ticked over into the 62th minute with the North Cork side three points down. Then as he had done the first day, Peter O’Brien popped up to become the saviour for Kildorrery.
It looked harmless enough for Dillon as Dave Kelly took possession almost on the end line. But his speculative shot across the face of the Dillon’s goal came to Finbarr Stapleton who first-timed it to the net to tie the game for the sixth time. There was more than a hint of a square goal, but it stood, much to the delight of the Kildorrery following in a crowd of 3,906.
A brace of points by Peter O’Brien in the 65th and 66th minutes — seven were added for a broken leg injury sustained by Tom Monaghan — gave the North Cork side an historic first ever title at this level.
It was cruel on Dillon’s who, for the second time in a fortnight, led by three points as the game entered its final moments. But in the twinkling of an eye they had victory snatched away from them and that 74 year gap has still to be bridged.
To rub salt into the wounds, they wasted two gilt-edged chances to win the game, but with points for the taking, the usually reliable John Horgan opted for a goal only to have his first shot saved and to hit the second one wide from in front of goals.
Kildorrery made the better start this time with Peter O’Brien particularly prominent. However, with both defences rock solid, scores were scarce and it was 0-2 to 0-1 for the city side after 15 minutes, John Horgan scoring Dillon’s’ two points.
Finally the game began to open up and in a breakaway attack Kildorrery grabbed their first goal when Finbarr Stapleton released Eamon O’Connor and he gave the Dillon’s netminder no chance from five metres.
That goal was the perfect fillip for the Avondhu champions and with Michael Lillis dominant at centre-back, they upped the pace with three points in a row to deservedly lead, 1-4 to 0-4, at the break. Dillon’s turned to play with the wind and were level by the 35th minute with three unanswered points, and it set the scene for an enthralling second half.
The sides were level on three further occasions until Dillon’s made their late push for the winning post with three points in a row, two by midfielder Cian McCarthy, and they looked to be heading for the title.
However there was one final twist in this superb match with Stapleton’s goal, O’Brien’s two late points and Horgan’s two wasted chances all combining to make it a truly unforgettable finish.
Scorers for Kildorrery: P. O’Brien 0-6 (0-2 frees); E. O’Connor, F. Stapleton 1-0; D. Kelly, M. Walsh (free) 0-1 each.
Brian Dillon’s: J. Horgan 0-7 (0-6 frees); T. Lawrence, C. McCarthy 0-2 each; M. White, J. Noonan 0-1 each.
KILDORRERY: J. McEniry; N. Kelly, S. Fitzgerald, M. Lillis; T. Monaghan, M. Walsh, J. Howard; J. McCarthy, C. Ó Baoill; E. O’Connor, P. O’Brien, S. Kelly; D. Kelly, R. McEniry, F. Stapleton.
Subs: W. Fuohy for S. Kelly (35); L. Kelly for T. Monaghan (55).
BRIAN DILLON’S: T. Triggs; M. Noonan, D. Murphy, M.Carey; D. McCormack, M. White, D. Brosnan; T. Lawrence, C. McCarthy; C. Brosnan, J. Horgan, B. Barrett; J. Noonan, D. Rodgers, P. O’Brien.
Subs: K. McCormack for Barrett (half time); K. Coughlan for P. O’Brien (50).
Referee: K. Healy (Ballymartle).