However they might do well to reflect too on the justice of Mid Kerry’s success. A controversial injury time penalty may not have been the most emphatic manifestation of their dominance at Fitzgerald Stadium, but Aidan O’Shea’s decisive finish delivered the appropriate victor.
Was referee Padraig O’Sullivan correct in penalising John O’Connor for pulling sub Ian Twiss to the ground 90 seconds into injury time? Probably – and there’s no relevance to the argument that few officials would have given it at such a delicate moment.
It was a forward’s tackle, but his namesake, coach Jack, will be livid that Mid Kerry’s late head of steam wasn’t brought to a halt further out the field, with his side 0-9 to 0-7 ahead.
O’Connor set his side up yesterday with a low-scoring, attritional affair in mind, and he wasn’t wrong in that respect. O’Rahillys employed only four conventional forwards, drawing John O’Connor and Timmy Sullivan into a midfield scavenging session. It worked to a point as it denied Mid Kerry any real sight of goal until that late sortie.
However, for prolonged stretches of yesterday’s under-whelming final replay, O’Rahillys relied on flashes of individual excellence — there was a more even distribution of responsibility on the divisional side.
The Tralee men began purposefully with three early points but once Mid Kerry played their way into the game, they looked assured and unhindered by the memory of losing a seven points lead two weeks ago. The outstanding efforts of Mike Quirke for Strand Road denied them a consistent platform at midfield, but they got a lot more this time from Sean O’Sullivan while replacement midfielder Damien Breen was quietly effective in augmenting Mike Burke. Darren O’Sullivan remained busy and though again shadowed by Danny O’Sullivan, his influence grew as the game progressed.
Undoubtedly the stellar individual displays were in O’Rahillys’ blue – the trouble was there was an insufficient number of them. Until David Moran landed what seemed the coup de grâce from the sideline in the final minute of the 60, their only scores came from Declan Quill and the ever dangerous Tommy Walsh. Too often they needed Quirke to be labourer and creator.
When Quill landed a 41st minute free, it was their first score in 27 minutes – explaining how a three point lead had become a one point deficit. Having changed ends at 0-3 apiece, Mid Kerry resumed with greater purpose. Darren O’Sullivan, brought out from the corner to the 40, began to penetrate the O’Rahillys rearguard. He was set up by Joe McGillicuddy for a fisted point (0-5 to 0-3), and though Quill and Tommy Walsh increased the prospect of extra time, O’Sullivan claimed one of the scores of the match to edge Mid Kerry 0-6 to 0-5 ahead with 15 minutes left.
Again the Tralee side had the good sense to feed Tommy Walsh who was fouled by converted full back Aidan O’Shea for a simple Quill free. However O’Shea then took it upon himself to surge upfield and stroke over a superb score in the 50th minute.,
Declan Quill had the self-belief to level again, and repeated the dose with five minutes left to edge Strand Road 0-8 to 0-7 ahead.
When David Moran took charge of a 60th minute sideline ball, and found the target, Mid Kerry looked doomed. But James Sheahan and his management team have done an admirable job in re-energising the divisional outfit.
How sweet the trip home from Killarney must have been last night.
Scorers for Mid Kerry: A O’Shea (1-1, pen.), Darren O’Sullivan (0-3, one free), K Foley (0-2, one free), Sean O’Sullivan (0-1, free).
Scorers for Kerins O’Rahillys: D Quill (0-5, 3 frees), T Walsh (0-3), D Moran (0-1, sideline).
KERINS O’RAHILLYS: G Kissane; M O’Shea, G Duffy, D O’Sullivan; B Quill, B Moran, G O’Grady, M Quirke, P Madden; J O’Connor, D Moran; T O’Sullivan, D Quill (Capt), T Walsh, BJ Walsh.
Subs: B J Keane for T O’Sulllivan (37).
MID KERRY: M Moriarty (Beaufort); A Cahillane (Keel), A O’Shea (Glenbeigh-Glencar); D Murphy (Milltown-Castlemaine), F Griffin (Glenbeigh-Glencar), C Kelliher (Milltown-Castlemaine), J McGillicuddy (Glenbeigh-Glencar); M Burke (Milltown-Castlemaine), D Breen (Beaufort); S O’Sullivan (Cromane); D Kelliher (Milltown-Castlemaine), G Sayers (Keel); Darren O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh-Glencar), D Walsh (Cromane), K Foley (Keel)
Subs: I Twiss (Milltown-Castlemaine) for Sayers (47); L Sheehan (Keel) for D Kelliher (inj, 58).
(Teams are per how they lined out)
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Firies).