Kerins O’Rahillys fight back to upset favourites South Kerry

Round-up of the Kerry senior football championship action.

ALL-IRELAND club champions Dr Crokes enjoyed a routine opening defence of their kerry SFC crown on Sunday as they eased past Mid Kerry with something to spare, 2-14 to 0-9.

Colm Cooper showed no indication of any rustiness as he pounced for the opening 1-3 of the game against a divisional side minus the considerable services of Peter Crowley and Darran O’Sullivan.

There was no such predictability at Strand Road Tralee on Sunday as Kerins O’Rahilly’s saw off 2015 champions South Kerry in a thriller. Stung by their recent loss in the Club Championship to neighbours Austin Stacks, O’Rahillys used their frustration as a positive in surging back from a half-time deficit to defeat South Kerry in this SFC first round meeting.

Two early goals from South Kerry’s Brendan O’Sullivan and Daniel Daly rocked O’Rahillys, and they went in at the interval down 2-8 to 0-10.

But straight from the restart, a John Ferguson goal and a point from Barry John Keane had them on level terms, and the Tralee men never trailed thereafter. Cormac Coffey and Keane added points before Gearoid Sugrue thundered home the decisive goal after 45 minutes. O’Rahillys led 2-16 to 2-9 with ten minutes remaining, and saw out the final stages to claim a 2-16 to 2-12 win, advancing them to a Round 2A meeting with Dingle. Whether they will have Tommy Walsh available for that one remains in doubt as he was forced to leave Sunday’s game with a first half hamstring problem.

Also in Tralee, half-time substitute Kieran Donaghy sparked a stirring Austin Stacks recovery as they fought back to draw their Kerry SFC first rd tie with St Kieran’s on Saturday night in Tralee. Stacks trailed 1-9 to 0-4 at half-time, and gambled on a hamstrung Donaghy after the break. Their fightback limited divisional side St Kieran’s to only two second half scores, the first of which came with 5 minutes left. Extra time failed to separate the two sides, who must meet again next week. David Mannix claimed ten points for the Rock.

It wasn’t the only fixture headache for Kerry’s CCC, with Sunday’s meeting of Legion and Kenmare Shamrocks also finishing level after extra time, 1-12 to 0-15. A Sean O’Shea free in the last minute for Kenmare forced extra-time.

The surprise packet of the Kerry SFC this season may be St Brendan’s, traditionally one of the weaker divisional outfits in the senior grade. However the improvement of junior clubs such as Na Gaeil, St Pat’s and the addition of John Mitchels has turned them into a strong unit. They defeated Kilcummin more convincingly than the 2-17 to 2-14 scoreline would suggest, and did so without Kerry midfielder Jack Barry, who was doing exams. Diarmuid O’Herlihy and Ivan Parker netted the goals. They meet favourites and reigning champions Dr Crokes in Rd 2A.

Two goals from Paul Geaney helped Dingle record a 3-16 to 2-4 victory over Kenmare Division in Templenoe on Saturday. Kenmare - now minus the Kenmare club which achieved senior status last year - were only a point adrift at the break thanks to goals from Killian and Pat Spillane. But a fancied Dingle took charge on the restart, limiting their opponents to just three points.

Their West Kerry divisional neighbours had home advantage against Feale Rangers on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough as the North Kerry men claimed a surprise 1-13 to 0-12 win at Gallarus, in the Gaeltacht. Paudie Quill goaled in the opening minute for Rangers, and they held West Kerry at arm’s length thereafter, mainly through the point-scoring of Listowel’s Conor Cox.

Rathmore triumphed in the local derby with East Kerry in Killarney on Sunday, though they had to survive a dramatic goal-line scramble in added time before doing so. Shane Ryan claimed 0-7 of their total as Rathmore recovered from an early 0-8 to 0-3 deficit.

*Full match coverage from all the Kerry SFC fixtures in Monday’s Irish Examiner

Kerry SFC 2nd rd (Winners Group): Dr Crokes v St Brendans, Dingle v Kerins O'Rahillys, Austin Stacks/St Kierans v Legion/Kenmare Shamrocks, Rathmore v Feale Rangers

Kerry SFC 2nd rd (Losers Group): Kilcummin v South Kerry, Kenmare v losers of Legion/Kenmare, West Kerry v losers Austin Stacks/St Kierans and East Kerry v Mid Kerry.

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