Failing to assert themselves, the winners did not lead until the 40th minute. While their opponents did not pull level thereafter, Legion never looked comfortable enough to take their foot off the gas in the closing stages.
Two points in quick succession from Jamie O’Sullivan and James O’Donoghue nudged Legion 0-10 to 0-8 in front on 42 minutes, Feale’s plucky resistance looking to have finally subsided. The North Kerry divisional outfit travelled to Fitzgerald Stadium with 19 players, Kerry pair Anthony Maher and Paul Galvin among the absentees.
In this light, theirs was a brave showing. Conor Cox, Noel Kennelly, Ger McCarthy and Shane Stack fought gallantly and, while Legion were nowhere near their peak, the result still carried an air of inevitability throughout.
The favourites had one foot in the quarter-finals on 45 minutes, James O’Donoghue rolling the ball into the left corner of Brendan Galvin’s goal. The centre-forward’s kick arrived at the end of a frantic scramble for possession inside the Feale 20-metre line. That score put the Killarney men into a 1-10 to 0-8 lead. Cormac Mulvihill posted the Feale response, two excellent points keeping the underdogs in touch.
Then came Legion’s second goal. O’Donoghue cut in from the right on 54 minutes, holding off three defenders in the process. The pass was perfectly weighted across the square, where sub Donal Lyne punched to the net.
Peter Keane’s charges would fail to add to their tally in the remaining six minutes, with their opponents nabbing 1-1 to keep the outcome in doubt. Conor Cox stroked over his fifth point, before dispatching a penalty on 56 minutes after a Damien O’Sullivan foul on sub Jamie Barry.
Drawn in the quarter-final against Kerins O’Rahilly’s, Keane and his backroom team would agree an improvement is required if they are to remain alive in the championship beyond next weekend.
Feale Rangers, backed by a strong breeze in the opening half, kicked the first three scores inside eight minutes. Cox opened with a 20-metre free inside a minute. It could have easily been a penalty, the Listowel forward appearing to have been upended inside the large parallelogram. He turned provider for their second, setting up full-forward Noel Kennelly who had a second two minutes later.
Conor Keane had Legion off the mark on nine minutes; Cox subsequently punching between the posts at the other end to maintain their three-point advantage. White flags from David O’Sullivan, Conor Keane and O’Donoghue, in response to Cox’s third minor, narrowed the gap to the minimum. The greater authority exercised by Shaun Keane and Jamie O’Sullivan around the middle was putting paid to the marauding runs of Feale pair Cormac Mulvihill and Ger McCarty from deep, draining the supply to Cox and Kennelly inside.
At the other end, indiscipline was hurting Feale Rangers as Legion stepped ever so slightly on the gas. O’Donoghue and Jamie O’Sullivan had them level at the break (0-6 each) and one apiece from this pair at the change of ends, cancelling out further efforts from Cox and Kennelly, tied matters for the third time before the overtaking movement was comfortably, if not clinically achieved.
J O’Donoghue (1-4, 0-3 frees); D Lyne (1-0); J O’Sullivan (0-3, 0-1 ’45); C Keane (0-2); David O’Sullivan (0-1, 0-1 free).
C Cox (1-5, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees); N Kennelly (0-3); C Mulvihill.
B Kelly; C Sheehan, D Sheehan, P O’Connor; D Doherty, Damien O’Sullivan, J Lyne; S Keane, J O’Sullivan; K Breen, J O’Donoghue, B McGuire; T Moriarty, David O’Sullivan, C Keane.
D Sheahan for McGuire (43), D Lyne for David O’Sullivan (52), J O’Neill for Breen (54), C Davies for Damien O’Sullivan (56, bc), P Lucey for S Keane (57 mins).
B Galvin (Moyvane); A O’Connor (Duagh), J McGuire (Listowel Emmets), S Weir (St Senan’s); P Galvin (Finuge), P Corridan (Finuge), S Stack (Moyvane); D Leahy (Moyvane), M Corridan (Finuge); D Foran (St Senan’s), C Mulvihill (Listowel Emmets), G McCarthy (Listowel Emmets); P Quille (St Senan’s), N Kennelly (Listowel Emmets), C Cox (Listowel Emmets).
J Barry (Listowel Emmets) for Quille (52), B Flavin (Moyvane) for Leahy (58 mins), K Lucey (Duagh) for Foran (62).
S Joy (Laune Rangers).