The Kerry legend has done it to most teams he has encountered, but the nine points that ended the Kingdom’s All-Ireland ‘famine’ in 1997, while prolonging Mayo’s more significant wait that continues to this day, was a standout – one of the greatest individual exhibitions in the history of Croke Park.
This was another forgettable day for the western county, losing two AIB All- Ireland Club finals, and it was Kerry doing the damage in both. Fitzgerald was at the rudder in the intermediate decider, manager of a St Mary’s team that made the key plays. His passion was evident, as the Cahersiveen men completed a rare double, having won the junior title in 2011, while many of them also starred in South Kerry’s county senior success.
“It’s unbelievable” said Fitzgerald. “It was a huge day for the club. To come back after (five) years and win the intermediate championship, we’re delighted. It’s been a tough battle between the two sides. At six points all at half time it could have gone any way. I’m just delighted we showed great character. In particular I thought our full back line was outstanding in Brian Curran, Ian Casey and Liam Sheehan. I thought the three lads were outstanding.
“Dan O’Sullivan in the second-half put in a great performance at number five and he took the game to Hollymount-Carramore and everyone hit their lines after that. There’s great structure, there’s a huge effort going in and we’re in the middle of what is called rural emigration and depopulation. We’re battling hard to keep it going and there’s great pride inside in our club. We’re honoured and privileged just to come to Croke Park, and to take the spoils away is extra special for us.”
Two second-half goals from Daniel Daly and Anthony Cournane were the vital scores though as the Cahersiveen men held off a late Hollymount-Carramore rally to claim the spoils. Paul O’Donoghue got the scoring under way for the Saints before Ian Costello responded with a wonderful effort. Mary’s stretched ahead then as Conor O’Shea and O’Donoghue tacked on points before Bryan Sheehan converted effortlessly off the deck. Costello stopped the rot with a sensational point and that seemed to have an inspirational affect as Hollymount added four more points without reply to open up a two-point lead. St Mary’s responded with points from Daly and Bryan Sheehan to draw level by the break on 0-6 apiece. The first goal arrived five minutes after the resumption and started with a vital interception by Curran before Daly blasted to the net.
Cournane showed his predatory instincts nine minutes later when he punched Niall O’Driscoll’s attempt at a point to the net to extend the margin to eight.
Hollymount made a good fist of reeling their opponents in and scored four points in a row through Robert Molloy, Darren Coen (two) and Kevin Costello to halve the deficit.
The goal they needed never looked like coming though and instead, St Mary’s finished with the last two points from sub Liam O’Connell and Darren Casey.
D Daly 1-1; B Sheehan 0-3 (1f); A Cournane 1-0; P O’Donoghue 0-2; C O’Shea, S Cournane (f), L O’Connell, D Casey 0-1 each.
D Coen 0-3 (2fs); I Costello, C Keane 0-2 each; R Molloy, B Sheridan, K Costello 0-1 each.
A Constable, I Casey, B Curran, L Sheehan, D O’Sullivan, C O’Shea, C Quirke, B Sheehan, D Daly, A Walsh, N O’Driscoll, P O’Donghue, S Cournane, D Daly, A Cournane.
D Casey for O’Driscoll (48), L O’Connell for Quirke (52), D Keating for Walsh (60).
N Campbell, R Connolly, D McHugh, D Feerick, P Feerick, R Molloy, B Sheridan, K McNamara, S Coen, K Feerick, I Costello, K Costello, C Keane, D Coen, D Costello.
B Maloney for D Costello (19), C Heneghan for K Feerick (40), D Kelly for Keane (45), L Macken for Connolly (56), C Connolly for I Costello (59), A Fahey for McNamara (60+1).
J Hickey (Carlow).