South Kerry are a much diminished force from the side which dominated the county championship in the last decade and managed only one point in the opening half. By comparison, Austin Stacks, with Kieran Donaghy in eye-catching form, will fancy their chances of progression to the decider.
Though Donaghy managed just one point, he caused chaos on the edge of the square, tormenting marker Stephen O’Sullivan and setting up vital scores for his eager attacking colleagues. When South Kerry attempted a comeback on the restart, the big full-forward shifted to midfield to quell any hopes of a home revolt.
Donaghy’s score came in the 3rd minute and set the tone for the evening, with Darragh O’Brien rattling over three more points in quick succession. In the 20th minute Donaghy broke a high ball down to O’Brien, who fired a piledriver to the net for a 1-4 to 0-0 lead. Stacks, despite losing midfield TJ Hogan to a broken cheekbone, were in complete control as their opponents kick wide after wide, with only Declan O’Sullivan playing to potential.
Stacks boss Wayne Quinlivan admitted his side had targeted a good start. He reasoned: “We talked about the first 15 minutes, which are very important against a team as strong as South Kerry in their home patch. We got the good start and that settled the nerves. We had seven U21’s starting out there today making their championship debuts so they needed that kind of a start. Then, with Kieran as the communicator, I thought we settled into the game well and once we got seven points clear, I knew we were never going to get beaten. We had to pull out all the stops and I have to give massive credit to my players. We missed four early chances in the second half and lesser teams would have dropped the heads but the lads kept going and they kept driving forward. That is what Stacks are about, hard work, grafting and never giving up.”
Quinlivan reserved special pressure for Donaghy. He said: “Kieran is a great leader and he really led the line for us today. He is our inspiration. I could not in truth believe my eyes when I saw were leading 1-5 to 0-0 with the first half nearly up. We wanted a good start but did not expect we had the intensity — we knew our season was over if we lost. Credit Declan O’Sullivan and Bryan (Sheehan) for battling back in the second half, but I am so proud of the lads, without Daniel Bohan and having lost our captain TJ Hogan, after ten minutes, we showed typical Stacks’ character and that pleased me most.”
South Kerry’s solitary first half score came from wing-back Daniel O’Sullivan in injury-time as they trailed 1-5 to 0-1 at the interval. The second half was a formality as Stacks defended and then counter-attacked at pace.
South Kerry emptied their bench in a desperate bid to close the gap. County star Declan O’Sullivan was inspirational at full-forward but lacked support.
Despite two O’Sullivan points, and three from Sheehan, South Kerry could never close the gap to less than five as the Tralee men marched into the last eight.
Scorers for Austin Stacks: D O’Brien 1-3, P McCarthy, P O’Donoghue, K Donaghy, S Carroll, S O’Callaghan, D Mannix (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for South Kerry: B Sheehan 0-3 (0-2 frees), Declan O’Sullivan 0-2 (0-1 free), Daniel O’Sullivan and B O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
AUSTIN STACKS: D O’Brien, F McNamara, B Shanahan, D Costello, P McCarthy, D McElligott, R Shanahan, P O’Donoghue, TJ Hogan, D Long, and S Carroll, S O’Callaghan, D Mannix, K Donaghy, Darragh O’Brien.
Subs: W Kirby for T J Hogan (inj, 11); Mikey Collins for Darragh Long, (46); S Purcell for B Shanahan, (49 inj); D Clifford for D Mannix, (59).
SOUTH KERRY: D Horgan (St. Mary’s), K O’Dwyer (Waterville), Stephen O’Sullivan (Skellig Rangers), D O’Dwyer (Waterville), Daniel O’Sullivan (St. Mary’s), K Young (Renard), N O’Driscoll (St. Mary’s), B Sheehan (St. Mary’s), A Dash O’Sullivan (Skellig Rangers), Daniel Daly (St. Marys), Declan O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses) , P O’Donoghue (St. Mary’s), R Hussey (Sneem), C Keating (Skellig Rangers), N Ó Sé (Dromid Pearses).
Subs: B O’Sullivan (Valentia) for D Daly, (ht), Seamus O’Sullivan (Skellig Rangers) for Daniel O’Sullivan, (36), M O’Connor (Derrynane) for N O’Driscoll, (38); P Curran (Waterville) for C Keating, (40); I Galvin (Derrynane) for R Hussey, (43).
Referee: Peter Lyons (Laune Rangers).