Ballydonoghue’s tyros laid siege on the St Senan’s goal from as early as the 25th second – Eamon Walsh flung over the game’s opening score - and when the smoke from half an hour of consistent shelling had abated, Lynch’s troops were 11-points clear.
The interval scoreline of 4-4 to 0-5 just about did them justice and even though they were nowhere near as dominant in the second period – the winners did not add to their tally between the 24th and 48th minute – the footballers from Ballydonoghue had 16 points to spare at the finish.
Lynch was one of several members of the victorious camp to be carried shoulder high at the finish. He, along with nearly everyone else clad in green and white, struggled to keep his emotions in check.
“24 years is a long time and we’ve waited a long time for this,” he gushed. “This win is out of this world for this parish, for the people of this parish. We owed them so much. We have had a great team coming through for the past couple of years. We put five years of hard work into developing these lads.
“We came with a plan and we stuck to it. We couldn’t have envisaged four first-half goals, but we had it in the tank, we were ready to go and there was no holding back.” With such a young team, built as it is around 2014 and 2015 All-Ireland minor medallists Jason Foley and Brian Ó Seanacháin, along with Micheál Foley, county championship glory was being spoken about before they’d even returned to the dressing-room.
“A lot of these lads weren’t born when we last won North Kerry in 1992,” continued Lynch. “A lot of these lads, maybe seven or eight, are just 18 and 19 years of age. They never knew what it was to play in a North Kerry final, never mind win it. The same with the older lads. This is a massive jump up for us. Hopefully, we can build on it. Getting out of Kerry is now our next goal.” Played in front of a 3,000 plus crowd, the first of the afternoon’s five goals arrived three minutes in. Eamon Walsh set up Jack Gogarty and his kick from outside the 20-metre line squirted out of the grasp of Senan’s keeper Darragh Kennelly and into the net.
Successive frees from Thomas and Paul Kennelly nudged Ballydonoghue 1-3 to 0-1 clear and St Senan’s found themselves in serious bother when Paul Kennelly got on the end of a move involving Jack Foley and Jim Cremin to fist home their second goal.
It went from bad to worse for Kieran Stack’s charges on 13 minutes; Jack Foley, after a delightful pick up in the left corner, cut in along the end line before throwing possession across to the unmarked Cremin who punched the ball to the net.
David Behan and Padraig Quille provided brief respite for the Mountcoal side, but they were taking on vast amounts of water and their challenge pretty much dissipated with Ballydonoghue’s fourth major on 24 minutes – Jack Foley catching Eamon Walsh’s wayward kick and rifling home his second.
St Senan’s, who were chasing a first divisional title, created ample goal opportunities over the hour. They weren’t able to convert a single one. Cathal Kennelly drove wide. Quille was denied by Darragh O’Shea. Damien Somers hit the post, while Diarmuid Behan cleared David Foran’s shot off the line.
Their misery was compounded 11 minutes from time, Jim Cremin quickest onto Paul Kennelly’s saved effort to register their fifth goal.
P Kennelly (1-5, 0-3 frees); J Cremin (2-0); J Gogarty, Jack Foley (1-0 each); E Walsh (0-2); T Kennelly (0-1 free), D Sheehy (0-1 each).
P Quille (0-4, 0-3 frees); D Behan (0-1 free), E O’Connell (0-2 each).
D O’Shea; S Lonergan, Jason Foley, D Behan; T Kennelly, M Foley, J Gogarty; M O’Mahony, B Ó Seanacháin; J Cremin, E Walsh, D O’Carroll; Jack Foley, P Kennelly, K Lynch Subs: D Sheehy for O’Carroll (38); B Foley for Behan (51); C O’Mahoney for T Kennelly (52); J Enright for Gogarty (55); J O’Mahony for M O’Mahony (57); C Kennelly for Cremin (59).
D Kennelly; A Mahony, ST Dillon, A Kennelly; S Dowling, S Weir, M Keane; B Whelan, D Somers; E O’Connell, D Foran, S O’Connell; D Behan, P Quille, C Kennelly.
S Nolan for Dowling (15 mins); J Browne for O’Connell (HT); D Kennelly for C Kennelly (37); C O’Keeffe for Keane (56); R Kerins for Quille (62) Referee: S Mulvihill (Ballylongford).