Conor Cahalane sent off for off-the-ball incident with Jack Browne as Cunningham misses with last puck
Ballyea 1-12 St Finbarrs 0-14
Ballyea are through to another Munster club final after a one-point win over St Finbarrs in Cusack Park, Ennis.
In the end, it all came down to one puck of a ball. That was the last puck of the game and it was a 65 from the stick of Ben Cunningham - a man who had a brilliant game for St Finbarr's - but his effort tailed agonisingly wide and that was that.
Cunningham fell to his knees and lifted his jersey over his head. The Ballyea players jumped for joy.
It was a disappointing end for Cunningham but, in reality, justice was done. That's because, as Ben O'Connor's hooked shot scuttled wide, the 65 should never have been given in the first place. The umpire made a mistake in that instance and both he and Ballyea will be relieved that it didn't change the result.
You can watch the drama unfold below.
60+6 nóim@ballyea_club 1-12@the_Barrs 0-14
Tá deis ag Ben Cunningham an cluiche a chuir go am-breise ach tá an sliotar cuirthe ar dheis aige...
Heartbreak for the Barrs in the final moments!#GAABEO #TheToughest @GAA_BEO | @officialgaa | @AIB_GAA
BEO/LIVE AR @TG4TV pic.twitter.com/SJWAlqq9Fq
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) November 20, 2022
What may have changed the result though, was the early blow St Finbarrs were dealt when, after an off-the-ball clash with Jack Browne, Conor Cahalane was shown a straight red card.
Nine minutes were on the clock Jack Browne wrapped his arms around Cahalane, only to leave his hurl in Cahalane's hand.
Instinctively, it seemed, Cahalane then went to throw Browne's hurl out to the side of the field but, as it happened, he caught the Ballyea defender with an elbow on the way back. Referee Michael Kennedy consulted with his linesmen and between them, they then decided to give a mystified Cahalane his marching orders.
But the 14 men of St Finbarrs wouldn't lie down.
As often happens in these scenarios, Ballyea struggled to make their numerical advantage count. No matter what they tried, they couldn't get Tony Kelly into the game in that first half and, with Ballyea's talisman so quiet, the Barrs stayed in contention.
The brilliance of Ethan Twomey kept them in the game - he has a serious engine in midfield - while young Ben O'Connor powered into it at wing back. Ben Cunningham also chipped in with some well-taken scores from wing forward and that was why they were only a point down at the break.
Conor Cahalane was sent off for this off the ball incident with Jack Browne 🔴 pic.twitter.com/caYxQUSxTu
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) November 20, 2022
Tony Kelly wasn't going to stay quiet forever though - and he began to do his thing after the break. Like the clutch player that he is, the four-time All-Star scored four long range points in the last 20 minutes of the game, two from play and two from frees.
Mossy Gavin also played his part, the accurate corner forward hitting three from play and though St Finbarrs hung in there, you always felt that with the fifteen men, Ballyea would hang on. And in the end they did. Just about.