But dramatic victors Listowel Emmets will not be too bothered by the stinging controversy that surrounded their injury-time winning point in yesterday’s North Kerry SFC final.
Conor Cox didn’t believe he had cause for celebration when his late effort appeared to drift wide of the post, but after a consultation between referee Mike Hennessy and his umpires, the point was awarded when most of the crowd were already preparing for a final replay next weekend.
Supporters from both sides seemed unusually united in their view afterwards that the ball had drifted wide but while Desmonds trooped off furious, feeling they had been robbed, Listowel celebrated their first win since 2009.
Team manager Mikey Kennelly played in that final, and admits that this was a fortunate win: “The last 30 seconds will go down in the history books, was it as score or was it not? I was on the wrong side of the field to have an opinion, but once the flag went up, we were winners. But for Desmonds it was a very poor way to lose and my heart goes out them.
“We were six points down after 25 minutes and we scored a fortunate goal against the run of play and added two points, so we went in trailing by a point and once we levelled early in the second, it was touch and go.”
After looking good early on, Listowel fell away, as Desmonds took over and could even afford the luxury of Tomas Lynch striking the Listowel right hand post in the 14th minute, as points from Cian O’Connor (three frees), Thomas Hickey, Pat Fitzgerald and Maurice O Connell, gave them a 0-7 to 0-1 lead in the 25th minute.
Tadgh Kennelly, who delayed his return to Australia to take in the final, was introduced and his presence appeared to lift Emmets. Just before the break, Cormac Mulvihill fed Bryan Murphy to drill a low ball across goal but it cannoned off the back of Desmonds full-back Maurice Lynch and into the net.
A Conor Cox point on each side of half-time levelled the contest and the rest of the game was a shoot out between Cox and Hickey with Cox landing two massive frees, but Hickey levelled (1-6 to 0- 9) with five left.
With time running out Cox landed a massive point but Desmonds countered and another free saw Thomas Hickey level again. Few would have quibbled with a replay, but Cox popped up with that late controversial score — even if its legitimacy was the main talking point.
Scorers for Listowel Emmets C Cox 0-7 (0-4 frees), M Lynch 1-0 (OG), B Murphy 0-1
Scorers for Castleisland Desmonds: T Hickey 0-5 (three frees), C O Connor 0-3 (frees), P Fitzgerald and M O’Connell 0-1 each.
LISTOWEL EMMETS: S Quinn; J McGuire, B Guiney, J Heaphy; Ger McCarthy, D Walsh, B McGuire; N Kennelly, M Lynch; J Barry, C Mulvihill, B Murphy; M Whelan, C Cox, D Sheehy.
Subs: T Kennelly for G McCarthy (18), A Fitzgerald for M Lynch (inj) 35), J Moriarty for J Barry (56).
CASTLEISLAND DESMONDS: M O’Connor; T O’Connell, M Lynch, B Lynch; S Devine, D O’Connor, M Hickey; P Fitzgerald, C O’Callaghan; M O’Connell, S Lynch, T Lynch; C O’Connor, T Hickey, S O’Connor.
Subs: P Hickey for T Lynch (h/t), T Lynch for D O Connor (59).
Referee: M Hennessy (Ballyduff)