Long the driving force as Stacks hold Dingle rally

DARA LONG propelled Austin Stacks to their first Kerry SFC final in nine years with a dream performance at Fitzgerald Stadium yesterday.

Long hit 2-4 over the hour, and his scores proved just enough for Stacks to survive a brave late surge by the men from Dingle.

Dingle were slow in getting their challenge off the ground and were over reliant on cousins Daithí and Paul Geaney who between them produced all but one point of their total.

Starting with the wind to their backs, Stacks were livelier in attack. Long opened the scoring and was hugely influential from the start while Kieran Donaghy’s role was governed by the amount of clean ball channelled his way. And that was sparse enough as his colleagues tended to concentrate on a short game.

Long had them 0-6 to 0-2 in front by the 11th minute and a gradual improvement from Dingle – with Colm Benny Moriarty to the forefront in the middle of the field – saw them level three minutes later. Daithí Geaney put over a good point and then converted a penalty. That improvement was given further impetus when Paul Geaney goaled in the 23rd minute after Stacks had points from Long and the evergreen William Kirby.

However, Stacks drew level through Graham O’Connell’s free to leave the score at 0-9 to 2-3. Stacks had a goal chance after captain TJ Hogan’s effort came back off the crossbar, but it was immaterial whether or not it crossed the line as the referee gave a free out.

Donaghy and Paul Geaney swapped points in the opening minute of the second half before Long scored a spectacular goal; Again, after the teams exchanged points, Long showed his class with a second goal after worming his way out of a tackle near the left corner.

That left the Stacks leading 2-11 to 2-5 but the winners were not to score again. Dingle’s improvement and the strength of the wind were factors in halting the Stacks’ charge but of more concern was the injuries to Long and centre-back Daniel Bohan which forced their withdrawal.

The latter sustained a suspected broken wrist in the 53rd minute, after Daithi Geaney had put over a ‘45 and after he added another score from play, sub David Devane pointed to reduce the margin to a goal. Critically, Geaney missed a scorable free in the 58th minute but made amends another two minutes later.

With the game in injury time, Donaghy won a vital ball in his own goalmouth and after that, the West Kerry side didn’t have time to save the game.

Scorers for Austin Stacks: D. Long (2-4, one free); G. O’Connell (0-3, two frees); M. Collins (0-2); W. Kirby and K. Donaghy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Dingle: D. Geaney (1-6, three frees, one ‘45); P. Geaney (1-2); D. Devane (0-1).

AUSTIN STACKS: M. Moriarty; P. McCarthy, D. Leonard, D. Costello; P. Barrett D. Bohan, J. Dennis; W. Kirby, B. Shanahan; D. McElligott, T.J. Hogan (capt.), M. Collins; G. O’Connell, K. Donaghy, D. Long. Subs: S. Carroll for Long (inj. 50); D. Clifford for Collins (52); W. Guthrie for Bohan (inj. 53); F. McNamara for Costello (57).

DINGLE: D.O Murchu; S.B. O Brosnachain (capt.), T. O Griffin E. O Conchuir; P. O Dubhain, E. O Murchu, P. Mac Uaidh; C.B. O Muircheartaigh, B. O Ceilleachair; M. O Eibhin, M. O Geibheannaigh, A. O Neill; P. O Geibheannaigh, M. O Slatara, D. O Geibheannaigh.

Subs: S. Mac an tSithigh for O Slatara (ht); D. O Suilleabhain for P. O Dubhain (43); M. O Cinneide for O Neill (45); D. O Dubhain for O Eibhin (49); P. O Murchu for C.B. O Muircheartaigh (56).

Referee: Eddie Walsh (Rathmore).

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