West Kerry, who were severely handicapped by the absence of the holidaying Tomás Ó Sé, pushed warm favourites St Kieran’s all the way, and it was only in the final five minutes that the game was decided in St Kieran’s favour.
The opening quarter was all action, with both sides committed to attack, with the West’s Seán Michael Ó Conchúir and Shane Hennessy responding to Edmund Walsh’s opening free.
The crucial score of the opening quarter came after 11 minutes when Eamonn Hickson was pulled down in the square and Alan Fitzgerald expertly slotted the spot kick as West Kerry led 1-4 to 0-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Then came a superb goal by Eamon John O’Donoghue, who finished to the West Kerry net, and the deficit was back to a point.
Seán Michael Ó Conchúir scored two points on the trot and Aiden Breen missed another goal-scoring chance for the winners. Hickey fired over a point in the 24th minute and Fitzgerald converted a 45 at the other end. O’Donoghue scored a point before half time and the sides retired level on 1-6 apiece.
The third quarter was again nip and tuck, with St Kieran’s looking like pulling away only for West Kerry to drag them back.
James Crean’s goal effort hit the side netting in the opening attack. Philip O’Connor and Fitzgerald exchanged points and in the fifth minute the winners were ahead following a fine score from Edmund Walsh.
Hickey and Breen stretched Kieran’s lead with a point each. In the 43rd minute Shane Hennessy converted a free and in the 45th minute Declan O’Sullivan narrowed the margin to a point.
West Kerry were getting the better of Kieran’s at this stage with Marc Ó Sé, Joe Scully and Colm Ó Gealbháin doing great defending and this resulted in an Alan Fitzgerald point from play to level the contest with 10 minutes left.
However, Seamus Scanlon and James Walsh took over in the middle at this stage, while Padraig Reidy was inspirational at the back. In the 51st minute, after a high ball into the square, Aiden Breen scored the match-winning goal.
A goal and a point separated the teams at this juncture, with five minutes to go.
West Kerry fought back and two points from Emmet Kennedy and one from Fitzgerald left only two points between the teams.
However, it was St Kieran’s who finished the stronger with two pointed frees from the Walsh brothers, James and Edmund, to secure a hard earned win.
Scorers for St Kieran’s: E Walsh 0-5 (4f), E J O’Donoghue and A Breen 1-1 each, T Hickey 0-3, S O’Connor, J Walsh (1f) and P O’Connor 0-1 each.
Scorers for West Kerry: A Fitzgerald 1-4, (1-0 pen, 1 45), S M Ó Conchúir 0-3, S Hennessy, D Ó Súilleabháin 0-2 each, E Kennedy 0-1.
ST KIERAN’S: S Óg Ó Ciardubháin (Cordal); A Cahill (Brosna), E Kiely (Brosna), D O’Sullivan (Currow); M Finnegan (Brosna), P Reidy (Scartaglin), F McAuliffe (Brosna); S Scanlon (Currow), J Walsh (Knocknagoshel); A Breen (Ballymacelligott), E Walsh (Knocknagoshel), S O’Connor (Desmonds); P O’Connor (Cordal), EJ O’Donoghue (Cordal), T Hickey (Desmonds).
Subs: D Murphy (Scartaglin) for M Finnegan, B Lynch (Desmonds) for D O’Sullivan.
WEST KERRY: T Mac an tSaoir (An Ghaeltacht); C Barry (Annascaul), Marc Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), Daithi Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht); P Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht), C Ó Gealbháin (Lios Póil), J Scully (Castlegregory); E Hickson (Annascaul), D Ó hUigín (Lios Póil); S Hennessy (Castlegregory), S M Ó Conchúir (An Ghaeltacht), E Kennedy (Annascaul); J Crean (Annascaul), A Fitzgerald, (Castlegregory), D Ó Súilleabháin (Lios Póil).
Subs: JB Spillane (Castlegregory) for D Higgins C Ó Luing (An Ghaeltacht) for D Ó Sé, C O’Sullivan (Lispole) for S Hennessy.
Referee: P Hayes (Kerins O’Rahillys).