Annascaul’s flying finish enough to clinch title

ANNASCAUL ensured the Munster Club IFC title will remain in Kerry for at least another season when they defeated Mallow by six points in a keenly contested final at Killarney yesterday.

The final scoreline flattered the Kerry champions, who only came good in the last 10 minutes, scoring four points without reply to take the spoils.

While the victory was one for team effort, the new provincial champions were grateful for the brilliance of Gene Farrell at centre forward and midfielder Niall Sheehy.

Farrell, who donned the Kerry senior jersey in his heyday, led the Annascaul attack with tremendous pace and finished the game as his side’s top scorer with five points.

Sheehy ensured his team won the midfield exchanges and his contribution of four points, three of them superb efforts from play, was a massive return from a midfielder.

Mallow played with a very strong wind in the first half. Annascaul won the toss and their obsession in trying to walk the ball in was futile against a very good Annascaul defence in which Adrian O’Donnell at full back and Tommy Farrell at centre back were excellent.

Both teams struggled with the greasy conditions, but Annascaul’s handling was better and they signified their intentions as early as the third minute when Gene Farrell rattled the Mallow crossbar from a 13-metre free.

Scores were at a premium early on and seven minutes passed before Mallow opened their account with a Cian O’Riordan point.

Farrell tied the game with a point from a free in the 10th minute. The sides were level twice more, with Farrell scoring his side’s three points.

If Mallow were to win this final they needed at least a six-point half-time lead, but they were grateful to keeper Colman Sheehan, who saved well from Emmet Kennedy as the Kerry champions pinned their Cork counterparts in their own half.

Mallow began to attack more frequently and when Cian O’Riordan pointed two frees in quick succession, it looked as if they would take a comfortable lead into half time.

Annascaul weren’t quite ready to roll over though, and they finished the half strongly with two excellent points from midfielder Niall Sheehy, going to the dressing room on level terms and clearly happy.

There was still no separating the teams on the changeover as they shared four points between them to be level on two further occasions.

Mallow found it easier to play against the elements and came closest to scoring a goal but Denis Hayes kicked wide in front of the posts.

It was a huge let-off for the Kerry champions and they responded accordingly. Mallow weren’t to score again after Joseph Hayes tied the game for the sixth time in the 41st minute, and Annascaul hit six points without reply.

Niall Sheehy began the scoring burst with two excellent long-range efforts, and as Mallow came forward looking to retrieve the situation, they left gaps behind which Farrell exploited to the full to land two more.

The Cork champions were in dire need of a goal but Barry Doyle was inches wide with his late effort.

Scorers for Annascaul: G Farrell 0-5 (0-2 frees); N Sheehy 0-4 (0-1 free); B O’Driscoll, J O’Driscoll, S Foley (free), E Kennedy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Mallow: C O’Riordan 0-4 (0-2 frees); M O’Brien 0-2; J Hayes 0-1 (free).

ANNASCAUL: G O’Shea; N, McKenna, A O’Donnell, C Barry; K O’Driscoll, T Farrell, J Farrell; N Sheehy, E Kennedy; B O’Driscoll, G Farrell, Jamie O’Driscoll; S Foley, G O’Driscoll, Johnny O’Driscoll.

Subs: E Hickson for B O’Driscoll; T O’Shea for McKenna; K Moynihan for G O’Driscoll.

MALLOW: C Sheehan; J Collins, K McCarthy, B Doyle; C Kerrisk, K O’Halloran, P O’Riordan; D Kerrisk, J O’Sullivan; M O’Brien, C O’Riordan, M Buckley; S Collins, D Hayes, J Hayes.

Sub: H Dockery for M Buckley.

Referee: D O’Mahony (Tipperary).

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