Winning the toss, but surprisingly electing to play into the teeth of a vicious wind, Canovee found themselves nine points in arrears shortly after the end of the opening quarter.
Keel, with a successful 45 conversion and a pointed free from corner-forward Kieran Foley in the opening four points, hit the ground running before a huge kick from wing back Martin Burke ended up in the net after luckless Canovee goalkeeper Tim Lyons slipped and fell on the muddy surface.
Jason Foley, James Long and Kieran Foley all made marked impressions for Keel and although Pat Dunlea opened the scoring for Canovee in the 10th minute, when he slotted over a point from a free, there was no stopping a rampant Kerry side.
Keel pounced to score a second goal in the 14th minute when, after Jason Foley’s first attempt was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Lyons, the visitors wing-forward flashed the rebound to the net.
Gary Sayers followed with a point in the 17th minute and Canovee found themselves 2-4 to 0-1 in arrears with 13-minutes of the first half still to run.
Due to the trojan efforts of midfielder Eamon Lyons and a splendid half-back trio of John O’Brien, Tommy Murphy and Brian Ahern, Canovee eventually stormed back.
With Lyons a colossus, ably assisted by his midfield partner Brian O’Donoghue, and with their side’s defence battening down the hatches, Canovee rattled three points without reply, two from top-scorer Pat Dunlea, which brought them within distance at the interval, with Keel leading by 2-4 to 0-4.
Now it was Keel’s turn to soak up the pressure and, to their cost, they were unable to do so, particularly after a controversial penalty decision went against them.
Thirteen minutes after the break Keel goalkeeper Gerard Foley came off his line after saving and fell with the ball in his hands after being challenged. Referee John Brew from Clare awarded Canovee a penalty, which Keel manager Joe Shannon later called “a disgraceful decision”. From the spot-kick Dunlea made no mistake.
It was now down to two points and Canovee were on a roll. They took the lead for the first time in the 49th minute when outstanding wing back John O’Brien appeared out of nowhere to score the match-winning goal.
Keel fought courageously to the end even though they were reduced to 14-men with the red-carding of corner-back James Foley in stoppage time.
Scorers for Canovee: P. Dunlea 1-6 (1-4 from frees); J. O’Brien 1-1; P. Healy 0-2.
Keel: M. Burke 1-0; J. Foley 1-0; K. Foley 0-3 (0-2 from frees; 0-1 from 45); J. Long, G. Sayers and T. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
T. Lyons; J. McCarthy, J. Scanlon, T. Lyons; J. O’Brien, T. Murphy, B. Ahern; E. Lyons, B. O’Donoghue; C. Dunne, T. O’Mahony, D. O’Sullivan; P. Dunlea, K. Walsh, P. Healy. Substitute. D. Healy for Ahern (injured).
G. Foley; D. O’Neill, M. Flaherty, J. Foley; M. Burke, A. Cahillane, J. Nagle; F. Ahern, I. Foley; G. Sayers, J. Long, J. Foley; T. O’Sullivan, A. Foley, K. Foley. Substitute. L. O’Shea for A. Foley.
J. Brew (Clare).
Only one of the Leinster club JFC finalists was decided, Clanna Gael of Meath edging out Daingean of Offaly, 1-6 to 1-5.
The other semi-final, a replay scheduled betwen Rosemount of Westmeath and Ballinakill of Laois , was postponed in order to allow the Leinster Council to continue with disciplinary procedures.