Leading by 1-5 to 0-2 at half-time after an excellent performance once they found their rhythm, inspired by former Kerry player Ian Twiss, the Kingdom champions looked set to sail into the decider.
But Newmarket got themselves back into contention through a Brian O’Riordan penalty. However, they could not get level at any stage, an overreliance on TJ Bodie frees hampering them while Twiss scored for Milltown-Castlemaine and his brother Derek came off the bench to kick two priceless late points.
That Milltown-Castlemaine are managed by John Fintan Daly, from the same Duhallow division as Newmarket, only added to the intrigue.
“When we crossed the Cork/Kerry border at Rathmore and went into my parish, Knocknagree,” he said, “we stopped the bus and I named five names to them — Ardfert, Annascaul, St Michael’s/Foilmore, Spa and Gneeveguilla.
“What do they all have in common? They all came out of Kerry and won Munster. I said, ‘Are ye going to come back to Kerry and say ye failed the green and gold? I’m not a Kerryman, it’s over to ye now’.
“They knew that, they knew that they’d have to fight to the depths, nobody can say we don’t deserve this, but fair play to Newmarket, they lost nothing in defeat.”
Aside from Twiss, Mike Burke was immense in midfield while Damien Murphy was excellent at full-back.
While it took them 12 minutes to get on the scoreboard, Twiss answering John Lane’s opener, once they did they were the better side but could not always make it count. They led 0-3 to 0-1 in the 26th minute when Colm Kerins scored two beauties.
Then Jerome Flynn found the net, finishing a flowing move involving sub Donal Kelliher — another to have a positive influence — Twiss and Shane Murphy, and while Bodie finished the half’s scoring, at 1-5 to 0-2 ahead Milltown-Castlemaine looked very comfortable.
A couple of Bodie frees early helped Newmarket back into contention, but they still trailed by 1-6 to 0-4 before the penalty, Paul Carroll was penalised for a sliding tackle on Lane. Just as he had in the county final win over Clyda Rovers, O’Riordan came up from corner-back and he stroked his shot past Joe Daly and, while Twiss responded, two excellent Bodie frees left just the minimum in it.
A chance for an equaliser could not be forged, however. Instead, Derek Twiss was on target following David O’Flynn’s dismissal for two yellow cards.
Milltown-Castlemaine now play Mullinahone of Tipperary at Mallow in three weeks’ time.
Scorers for Milltown-Castlemaine: I Twiss 0-4 (2fs), J Flynn 1-0, D Twiss, C Kerins 0-2 each, C Moriarty 0-1.
Scorers for Newmarket: TJ Bodie 0-5fs, B O’Riordan 1-0p, J Lane 0-1.
MILLTOWN-CASTLEMAINE: J Daly; Kevin McKenna, D Murphy, J Blennerhasset; P Carroll, M Mangan, J O’Connor; M Burke, B Delaney; J Flynn, S Murphy, G Wrenn; C Moriarty, C Kerins, I Twiss.
Subs: D Kelleher for G Wrenn (inj. 19), Kieran McKenna for Flynn (37), D Twiss for Kieran McKenna (46), P Wrenn for O’Connor (54).
NEWMARKET: N O’Connor; B O’Riordan, D O’Brien, J Ryan; B O’Leary, M Reidy, TJ Brosnan; B Daly, C O’Sullivan; D O’Flynn, K O’Sullivan, T O’Keeffe; TJ Bodie, N Flanagan, J Lane.
Subs: T Murphy for Flanagan (inj. 27), M Murphy for C O’Sullivan (59).
Referee: M Condon (Waterford).