Two goals from St Mary’s Seán Cournane were crucial for their timing as much as impact on the scoreboard. With the teams level 0-6 apiece, the opener came in first half stoppage time and the second eight minutes after the interval.
It had been tit for tat during the opening 30 minutes with Bryan Sheehan doing a great job in curbing the threat of Kieran Donaghy, both at midfield and when Donaghy moved to the edge of the South Kerry square. This proved a smart move by the South Kerry management when they lost Kerry full-back Mark Griffin in the warm-up. Rob Wharton played a major role after his last minute call up, ending up as a man of the match contender.
Courtesy of three David Mannix points, and one each from Pa McCarthy, Michael O’Donnell and Conor Jordan, Stacks led 0-6 to 0-5 approaching half time, but the devil’s in the detail - they had also kicked six wides and wasted countless scoring opportunities.
South Kerry were defending tenaciously and breaking with pace. Points from Sheehan (3), and one each from the industrious Niall O’Shea and the in-form Daniel Daly, had South Kerry one adrift until Bryan Sheehan got away from Donaghy to kick a sublime equalizer from an acute angle.
Then in injury time, the first goal: Sheehan knifed through the Stacks defence before linking up with Niall O’Shea who flicked the ball across goal for deadly poacher Sean Cournane to finish to the Stacks net.
The goal not only gave South Kerry a 1-6 to 0-6 half time lead but it appeared to deflate Stacks, who never raised a gallop in the second period. Strike two for South Kerry came in the 38th minute when Killian Young broke up a Stacks attack before launching a long delivery to Sean Cournane who made the best of some slack man-marking and neatly finish.
Stacks were now two goals adrift and though they huffed and they puffed they could only add two second half points, one from a Mannix free and a punched effort from Donaghy, as South Kerry defended heroically.
Stacks boss Stephen Stacks revealed afterwards the stat that summed up their night: “We had 40 attacks, we had 28 shots at goal and we managed just eight scores. We attacked a way too wide in the first half when we should have attacked them up the middle.
The period before their first goal was also decisive, because we were in a good position and working the ball well, but it was that last pass or shot we took, where we showed a complete lack of composure.
“South Kerry are an excellent counter attacking team so what you don’t do is give away the ball when in their half and we did that countless times so it’s very disappointing.”
South Kerry boss William Harmon reflected: “Last week we felt we were a bit open at times so we worked very hard on our kick-outs and our defensive set up because we knew when we have the ball we are dangerous.
The goal on the stroke of half time was the turning point, because the game was tight and to go in a goal up was a great fillip for us.”
S. Cournane (2-0), D. Daly (0-4 1 free), B. Sheehan (0-4, 2 frees) N. O’Shea (0-2).
: D. Mannix (0-4, 2 frees), P. McCarthy, C. Jordan, M. O’Donnell and K. Donaghy (0-1 each).
R. Whyte (Sneem/Derrynane); P. O’Sullivan (Valentia), R. Wharton (Renard), F. Clifford (Waterville); C. O’Shea (St Mary’s), K. Young (Renard), O. Clifford (Waterville); B. Sheehan (St Mary’s), G. Gibson (Waterville); A. Walsh (St Mary’s), Daniel Daly (St Mary’s), P. O’Donoghue (St Mary’s);I. Galvin (Sneem/Derrynane), N. O’Shea (Dromid Pearses), S. Cournane (St Mary’s).
B. O’Dwyer (Waterville) for Ian Galvin (42); C. O’Connor (St Michaels/Foilmore) for N. O’Shea (54); P. O’Connor (Valentia) for S. Cournane (59); M. O’Sullivan (St Michaels/Foilmore) for A. Walsh (59); P. King (St. Michael’s/Foilmore) for M. O’Sullivan (62).
: D. O’Brien; J. O’Shea, F. MacNamara, D. McElligott; P. McCarthy, C. Jordan, R. Shanahan; W. Guthrie, M. O’Donnell; S. Carroll, S. O’Callaghan, B. Walsh; D. Mannix, K. Donaghy, F. Mangan.
: S. Ryan for F. Mangan (h/t); J. Morgan for F. McNamara (h/t); D. Bohan for M. O’Donnell (37); A. Nestor for S. Carroll (50)F. O’Brien for B. Walsh (52); J. Dennis for R. Shanahan ( b/c 60).
J O’Sullivan (Firies)