Quill right on cue for O’Rahillys

THERE was a serious question mark hanging over Kerins O’Rahillys ability to win in Austin Stack Park yesterday until Declan Quill inspired them with a 53rd-minute goal.

Coming immediately after a hard-earned Barry John Walsh point restored their lead, following an admirable third quarter recovery from a brave Moyle Rovers side, its timing as much as its execution was decisive in earning them a place in the AIB Munster club SFC final for the first time in their history.

And, they were also grateful for the save made by their goalkeeper David Hennessy less than half a minute after the start of the second half, when his alertness – and positioning – denied Brian Mulvihill a goal which could have produced a different result.

A relieved Strand Road manager Mark Fitzgerald emphasised the importance of the block, commenting: “If it had gone it would have been all over. We only got two scores in the second half. The goal was the difference.’’

Moyle Rovers coach Jim Cahill was bitterly disappointed. “Second best is no good to us. When it was seven points each we needed a fillip to drive us on. Goals win matches. Unfortunately we couldn’t get one.

“If we got the goal we could have gone on – and their goal came when it was too late for us to turn around again.’’

While the pitch was in good condition, the combination of a strong wind and driving rain made it very difficult for both sides. The hosts enjoyed wind advantage in the opening half – Timmy O’Sullivan kicked the first point after three minutes, before Barry John Walsh set up Declan Quill for one and then scored himself.

And, after the first of only three Moyle Rovers points from a Declan Browne free in the 10th minute, O’Rahilly’s had five points to their credit in a two-minute period. So far so good for the Kerry club champions, with Quill quick to make an impression at right corner-forward, Barry John Keane eager at centre-forward and Barry John Walsh threatening in the left corner.

With Fitzgerald acknowledging that the presence of Australian-based Tommy Walsh and David Moran would have given them ‘extra physicality’ in conditions where strength and mobility were invaluable, it was noteworthy that things didn’t run smoothly for them in the 15-minute period before the break.

Yes their finishing deteriorated but credit also the Tipperary champions. The tenacity of their defensive play, allied to their ability to work the ball upfield with a short passing style, gradually brought them into contention.

They managed that with strong play at midfield, mainly through Paul Johnson, whose high work-rate brought him a better return than Micheal Quirke, who wasn’t to produce his best football until the second half.

And, selected half-back Peter Acheson (at left half-forward) was one of the players who impressed most, with Browne giving the expected leadership when he was given the right ball. At the break, it was 0-7 to 0-3 in favour of the hosts.

Fitzgerald admitted the management were ‘a little unhappy’ at that stage, saying: “we felt we weren’t playing particularly well, that four points of a lead wasn’t going to be enough. There were five or six guys who could have upped it a bit more. The conditions and the fact that Rovers came at us forced a lot of guys into working harder.’’ However, it wasn’t until much later in the game that the necessary improvement was forthcoming, with Quirke influential and Brian Moran forceful at half-back.

Moyle Rovers were in control, overcoming the disappointment of not getting their goal on the resumption. Browne kicked over three frees, one a brilliant score from far out on the left wing, and continuous pressure had them level at 0-7 each in the 44th minute. Crucially, when it needed something special to decide the game, it was Quill who was in position to oblige. This was after Barry John Keane had tried for a score from out near the right corner and the wind pushed the ball away from the posts – into Quill’s hands.

He explained: “I saw one in the first half when they had a kick and it went like that. I thought the wind was going to take it out, so I positioned myself under it. I thought I lost control of the ball and just threw my right leg at it. When I saw it going into the right corner I couldn’t believe it!’’

Scorers for Kerins O’Rahillys: D. Quill 1-2; B.J. Walsh and B.J. Keane 0-2 each; T. O’Sullivan and J. O’Connor (free) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Moyle Rovers: D. Browne 0-5 (0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘45); S. Keating, S. Carey, P. Acheson and J. Williams 0-1 each.

KERINS O’RAHILLYS: D. Hennessy; B. O’Shea, M. O’Shea, P. Begley; R. O’Callaghan, B. Moran, J. Kelly; M. Quirke (capt.), G. Duffy; J. O’Connor, B.J. Keane, R. Molloy; D. Quill, T. O’Sullivan, B.J. Walsh.

Subs: B. Quill for Molloy (46th minute); Molloy for Moran (injured, 56th).

MOYLE ROVERS: G. Kenrick; L. Cronin (capt.), R. Power, R. Desmond; P. Acheson, N. Fitzgerald, D. Dwyer; M. Dunne, P. Johnson; B. Mulvihill, P. Foley, S. Keating; S. Carey, D. Browne, D. Foley.

Subs: J. Shanahan for P. Foley; J. Williams for Keating (53rd); D. Lyne for Acheson (60th).

Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).

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