Captain O’Connor inspires Kenmare

Kenmare Shamrocks (Kerry) 0-20 Cappamore (Limerick) 2-08

Though Cappamore gave a good account of themselves and managed 2-8 against a Kenmare defence that will face tougher questions in the All-Ireland series, the Kerry side’s attacking play was a sight to behold at times, despite never needing to use top gear.

Captain and full-forward Paul O’Connor sparkled for the winners, kicking 10 points while Stephen O’Brien alongside him scored four and DJ Brennan, named at right half-forward but capable of popping up anywhere, added three.

At centre-forward, Mark Crowley knitted the play together well and got on the scoresheet too, while in midfield Jimmy Wharton and Shane Dalton combined superbly.

For manager Pat O’Connor, it was about getting the job done, and acknowledging the efforts off the pitch as well as on it.

“The real leader of the team has to be Enda Crowley, the trainer,” he said.

“He did his cruciate two years ago, and that robbed him of a starting place and at 31 years of age the guy could have packed it in, but he turned it around and trained the team. He put his heart and soul into it.

“As much and all as it’s a victory for the players, it’s a victory for Enda, I’m delighted for him. This started last January, we took every game as it came and gave every team the same respect, starting with Sneem all the way through to today.”

While two O’Connor points had Kenmare off the mark early on, Cappamore’s most dangerous forward Andy Murphy soon levelled but in general, Kenmare had far more of the play.

Cappamore fielded player-manager Diarmuid Sheehy as a sweeper between the two lines of defence, but while he didn’t do badly, it meant that whenever the Limerick side did get the ball away it came back just as quickly, and when Crowley pointed in the 16th minute Kenmare led by 0-9 to 0-2.

Following a Murphy free for Cappamore, though, Kenmare goalkeeper Kieran Fitzgibbon sent his kickout straight to Tommy O’Donoghue, whose handpass allowed John Ryan an easy goal, and when Murphy pointed again there was suddenly only two points in it.

Even so, Kenmare didn’t look troubled and Crowley and O’Connor (two) gave them breathing space again, the half-time score 0-14 to 1-6.

With spare man Aidan Crowley doing well, Kenmare continued where they left off early in the second-half, and if you wanted an exemplar point it was O’Connor’s in the 44th minute, a superb effort after good ball-retention.

More chances went abegging, but three more, from Brennan, O’Connor and O’Brien, respectively, after a wonderful run through the defence, had them 0-19 to 1-8 ahead with 12 left.

Murphy, with a great turn and shot, fired in a goal but a comeback was never in the offing. After O’Connor answered with a Kenmare point, the final seven minutes were merely a procession for the Kerry champions.

Scorers for Kenmare Shamrocks: P O’Connor 0-10 (5fs), S O’Brien 0-4, DJ Brennan 0-3 (1f), M Crowley 0-2, K O’Sullivan 0-1.

Scorers for Cappamore: A Murphy 1-5 (3fs), J Ryan 1-1, T O’Donoghue, J O’Donnell 0-1 each.

KENMARE SHAMROCKS: K Fitzgibbon; D Crowley, T O’Sullivan, C O’Sullivan; A O’Callaghan, S O’Leary, A Crowley; S Dalton, J Wharton; DJ Brennan, M Crowley, K O’Sullivan; A O’Leary, P O’Connor, S O’Brien.

Subs: S Duncan for O’Sullivan (55), S Ryan for DJ Brennan (59), R O’Sullivan for A O’Leary (60).

CAPPAMORE: B Leahy; D Keating, P Leahy, S Humphreys; B Sheehy, M Treacy, S Sheehy; C Doherty, C Sheehan; J Campbell, T O’Donoghue, D Deere; A Murphy, J Ryan, D Sheehy.

Subs: B Creamer for Campbell (25), E Gleeson for Humphreys (ht), J O’Donnell for Doherty (40), N Leahy for S Sheehy (46), E O’Donoghue for Ryan (57).

Referee: M Condon (Waterford).

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