The Tralee men were kept at arm’s length by O’Donoghue salvos, but, to their credit, kept going and scored four of the last five points in an entertaining quarter-final. However, they couldn’t peg back Legion’s lead that had been stretched to six after O’Donoghue completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot in the 51st minute.
If O’Donoghue gets the headlines for this exploits, spare a thought for Tommy Walsh and David Moran, who dominated midfield once they teamed up. Of course, hindsight is a great selector but O’Rahilly’s will wonder would the result have been different had they left Walsh on the edge of the square, where he was caused havoc.
They might also wonder did they pay sufficient attention to the goal threat James O’Donoghue posed. It’s not as if they weren’t pre-warned - the Kerry star was all alone inside the opening minute, when he collected a high centre but Gary Kissane denied him a goal. The O’Rahilly’s defence did not take the hint, and O’Donoghue made them pay three minutes later, when he collected from Daragh Doherty, and slipped the ball to the net.
Jack Savage replied with a super point after a great catch by Tommy Walsh, and then came an O’Rahilly’s penalty in the seventh minute, when again Walsh fetched one from the clouds, fed Barry John Keane, who was fouled by Jamie O’Sullivan. David Moran dispatched the spot kick to the Legion net.
Jamie O’Sullivan then fired over a point, before James O’Donoghue ghosted past a number of O’Rahilly’s defenders in the 11th minute, crossing low from close to the end line for the inrushing Conor Keane to side foot past a bewildered Kissane.
Back came O’Rahilly’s to level, with points from Barry John Keane and Tommy Walsh, but Legion countered with points from Billy McGuire and Tom Moriarty. Jack Savage kicked a fine point in front of Kerry boss, Eamonn Fitzmaurice on the terrace, before James O’Donoghue struck again in the 19th minute. This time Conor Keane fed him a kick pass and once he turned and headed for goal, O’Rahilly’s were in trouble as the 2014 footballer of the year slid the ball homefrom an acute angle.
Cormac Coffey was eventually assigned to curb O’Donoghue and while he did well, O’Rahilly’s missed his attacking forays. Legion led 3-4 to 1-8 at the interval. The second-half was not as gung-ho. O’Rahillys had a grip on midfield with Walsh and Moran, forcing Legion to take short kick-outs. Consequently their attacks became more ponderous.
Two Savage frees had the sides level, before Kevin Breen and Billy McGuire pushed Legion two clear again. Kieran O’Mahony reduced it to one midway through the half before two frees from O’Donoghue and David O’Sullivan, saw Legion move three clear by the 50th minute.
Then disaster for O’Rahilly’s a minute later. O’Donoghue was upended in the square and he sent Gary Kissane the wrong way to complete his hat-trick. Tommy Walsh was now at full-forward as O’Rahilly’s kicked four points without reply and they had a late free blocked and cleared before Danny Sheahan kicked the insurance point for Legion.
Reflected a relieved Legion manager Peter Keane: “I thought we played some lovely football. It was a great game to look at, even being involved in it, you could see there was some great fielding, there were some great scores taken, some great frees kicked, some fantastic goals.”
J O’Donoghue 3-1 (1-0 pen, 1 free), C Keane (1-1), B McGuire (0-2), Tom Moriarty, D Sheahan, K Breen, David O’Sullivan and J O’Sullivan (0-1 each)
J Savage (0-9, 7 frees), David Moran (1-0, pen), T Walsh (0-2), B J Keane, K O’Mahony, J O’Connor and D McLoughlin (0-1 each)
B Kelly; C Sheahan, D Sheahan, P O’Connor; D Doherty, Damian O’Sullivan, J Lyne; S Keane, J O’Sullivan; K Breen, J O’Donoghue, B McGuire; T Moriarty, David O’Sullivan, C Keane.
D Lyne for T Moriarty (48); J O’Neill for K Breen (52); D Sheahan for B McGuire (55); C Davis for C Sheahan (57); P Lucey for David O Sullivan (58)
G Kissane; D O’Sullivan, S Brosnan, T Begley; C Coffey, R O’Callaghan, C Sayers; D Moran, C Barrett; J Ferguson, B J Keane, D McLoughlin; J Savage, T Walsh, G O’Connell
K O’Mahony for G O’Connell (h/t); G O’Grady for T Begley (47); J O’Connor for J Ferguson (48).
C O Dubhda (Gaeltacht)