Sixty-one years Dingle had been waiting to reach the final. Sure, they had contributed handsomely to West Kerry victories in the interim but this was so satisfactorily off their own backs.
They bridged that gap with a not- altogether convincing three-point win but one that followed a similar trend to their previous wins over Kilcummin, whom they put five goals past, and Feale Rangers who found Billy O’Connor too hot to handle. In that quarter-final, he bagged a brace of goals and he was among them again yesterday, scoring Dingle’s fourth when a Paul Geaney shot dropped short and the full-forward did enough to deceive St Kieran’s goalkeeper Seán Óg Ó Ciardubháin.
Putting them up by six points with seven minutes left, it was just what Dingle needed in weathering a barrage of shots from the wind-assisted opposition.
The goal was their last of the game — and only their fifth score from play — but provided enough of a cushion as much as Kieran’s had cut it in half by the end.
In all, Dingle managed just two points from play in a dramatic if otherwise unappealing encounter, both of them coming from Paul Geaney, who finished with 1-4.
Marred by some dubious officiating decisions and pockmarked by the constant blowing of the referee’s whistle, it was a cynical affair that won’t last long in the memory.
Geaney’s goal, Dingle’s third three minutes from the interval, was the most controversial of the club’s quartet, coming after a scramble in the Kieran’s parallelogram.
Kieran’s appeared set to clear the lines when the ball found its way into Geaney’s hands and he slid the ball into the net from close range to put Dingle 3-1 to 0-4 up.
Geaney was involved in the two previous goals, feeding the excellent Michael Geaney to rifle home for the first, after a Kieran’s defensive mistake in the 10th minute.
A short time later, he won the first of the game’s two penalties when he was brought down following a Patrick Devane long ball and his brother David’s shot beat Ó Ciardubháin.
Kieran’s were awarded a penalty in the 28th minute when Matthew Galvin fouled Edmond Walsh but Tom McColdrick was denied by Seán Ó Flatharta.
A point by Walsh in injury-time cut the gap to five points — 3-1 to 0-5 — at half-time but it wasn’t that Kieran’s were playing terribly.
The tactics, though, were questionable. Certainly, playing against the wind in the first half, detailing Flor McAuliffe to a sweeper role was wise even if he found himself fire-fighting for others.
But, curiously, Eamon John O’Donoghue wasn’t brought back to midfield until the last 10 minutes of the half when it had long become apparent a six-man forward line wasn’t working into the breeze.
Instead, Kieran’s continued with the ploy of pumping diagonal ball towards the inside forwards instead of going through the hands, which would have suited the likes of James Walsh and Aidan Breen.
The latter’s mazy 80-yard solo run almost earned Kieran’s a goal just before the end of the half only for his hand-pass across the parallelogram to be pushed away for a 45.
With the breeze, Breen saw more ball after the break as did Walsh whose move to midfield was quite profitable.
However, Kieran’s profligacy was criminal. Eight wides in the second half adding to their previous four, they were the creators of their own downfall.
Even if Dingle’s point-taking was close to non-existent and midfield spluttering, they continually spurned chances.
They did, however, put a string of five points together to get within two with 11 minutes left.
But that was the cue for Geaney to notch his and Dingle’s second point from play before O’Connor’s momentum-killing goal.
Scorers for Dingle: P Geaney 1-4 (0-2 frees); M Geaney, D Geaney (pen), B O’Connor 1-0 each; J Sheehy 0-1 (free).
Scorers for St Kieran’s: E Walsh 0-4; J Walsh (two frees) 0-3; T McGoldrick (free), M Coakley, EJ O’Donoghue, T Hickey, S Scanlon, P O’Connor, P Reidy 0-1 each.
DINGLE: S Ó Flatharta; G Curran, J Murphy, TB Brosnan; Paul Devane, B Kelliher, JB Brosnan; CB Moriarty, D O’Sullivan; Patrick Devane, M Geaney, J Sheehy; P Geaney, B O’Connor, D Geaney.
Subs for: R Begley for Patrick Devane (41); J Kelliher for B Kelliher (60).
ST KIERAN’S: S Óg Ó Ciardubháin (Cordal); P Galvin (Ballymacelligott), M Galvin (Ballymacelligott), P Reidy (Scartaglin); M Hickey (Desmonds), J Walsh (Knocknagoshel), D O’Sullivan (Currow); S Scanlon (Currow), M Coakley (Scartaglin); F McAuliffe (Brosna), T Hickey (Desmonds), A Breen (Ballymacelligott); E Walsh (Knocknagoshel),EJ O’Donoghue (Cordal); T McGoldrick (Brosna).
Subs for: P O’Connor (Cordal) for McGoldrick (h-t); P McCarthy (Currow) for Coakley (36); D Murphy (Scartaglin) for McCarthy (56); D O’Connor (Scartaglin) for O’Sullivan (58).
Referee: Michael Curran (Dromid).