This rescheduled Corn Uí Mhuirí final came just 10 days after the funeral of 14-year-old Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne student Aodhán Ó Conchúir had brought the town of Dingle to a standstill. He was poignantly remembered both before and after Saturday’s game.
With Aodhán having worn the number two shirt on the afternoon of the Russell Cup final when he sustained what proved a fatal head injury, the Dingle school retired that jersey for this fixture.
Winning captain Franz Sauerland referenced Aodhán in his acceptance speech, as did Dingle manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice.
“It was a challenge to prepare for this game,” said Fitzmaurice.
I don’t think there is any roadmap on how to deal with those situations. It is great to have won a Corn Uí Mhuirí, but all these things are put into perspective. Our thoughts remain with Aodhán’s family and that’s the way it is going to be going forward.
This was Fitzmaurice’s third occasion leading the Dingle school into a Corn Uí Mhuirí decider. His perfect strike rate forms part of a glorious seven-year spell for the school, during which they’ve landed five Corn Uí Mhuirí titles.
Fitzmaurice, along with former Kerry teammate Tommy Griffin, was at the helm last year when the school landed the Paul McGirr Cup (All-Ireland U16½ football). Twelve of that team started here, suggesting five in seven could easily become six in eight next year.
“To win five in seven years is an incredible achievement,” Fitzmaurice continued.
We have a small school, less than 200 boys. We’re drawing out of four clubs. “We knew we were probably a bit young, but there was a good nucleus of a team there.
Their opponents came off a distant second to St Brendan’s in last year’s final and determined not to endure further disappointment, Tralee CBS bossed most of the first-half.
Having fallen 0-2 to 0-1 behind early on, the Marc Ó Sé managed side kicked four unanswered points — Michael Kelleher, Darragh Regan, Daniel Goggin and Sean Quilter (‘45) the providers — to open up a three-point lead five minutes from the break.
It could have been more but for a handful of aimless kicks towards the Dingle posts. That said, Ó Sé’s students were lucky not to concede a goal as Deividas Uosis hit the post 17 minutes in.
Come the interval, Tralee found themselves trailing by the minimum, 0-6 to 0-5.
Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne centre-forward Cillian Ó Failbhe won successive frees which were converted by Uosis and Ruaidhrí Ó Beaglaoich. The latter, a younger brother of Kerry senior Brian, added two more to turn the tie back in their favour.
“Those four points were the winning of the game,” Fitzmaurice reckoned.
Tralee were totally on top of us in the first half. There was only one team playing football. Massive credit goes to our lads who stuck at it and to be going in at half-time a point up was almost a surprise. The experience they gained last year from the Paul McGirr competition stood to them. They didn’t panic. They ground it out.
Marc Ó Sé agreed with his former Kerry teammate and manager.
“Certainly, we should have been in front, not behind, at half-time. That would have given our lads good confidence. They were anything but confident at half-time. We had to raise their spirits.”
Mind you, they did enjoy a dream start to the second period. Fergal O’Brien collected a quick Michael Kelleher free and pounced for the opening goal.
Crucially, though, Dingle responded with a goal of their own two minutes later. Dylan Ó Géibheannaigh slipped through Ó Failbhe and he edged them back in front.
Thereafter, the teams were level three times. The minimum separated them, 1-11 to 1-10, when Sauerland delivered the game-changing score.
Ruaidhrí Ó Beaglaoich’s hit and hope was punched to the net by the Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne captain on 54 minutes and they closed out the win with a brace from 2017 Kerry minor goalkeeper Uosis.
R Ó Beaglaoich (0-6, 0-4 frees); F Sauerland, C Ó Failbhe (1-0 each); D Uosis (0-3, 0-2 frees); D Ó Géibheannaigh (0-2); J Ághas, C Firtéar (0-1 each).
M Kelleher (0-3, 0-2 frees); F O’Brien (1-0); S Quilter (0-1 ‘45), D Regan (0-2 each); D Fitzmaurice, D Goggin, J Mortimer (0-1 each).
E Ó Brosnacháin (Daingean Uí Chúis); C Ó Flannúra (Daingean Uí Chúis), T Ó Dubháin (Daingean Uí Chúis), Colin Ó Muircheartaigh (Daingean Uí Chúis); P Ó Cathalláin (An Ghaeltacht), G Ó Leidhinn (Abha na Scáil), Colm Ó Mhuircheartaigh (Abha na Scáil); F Sauerland (An Ghaeltacht), J Ághas (Abha na Scáil); N Ó Géibheannaigh (Daingean Uí Chúis), C Ó Failbhe (Abha na Scáil), C Firtéar (Abha na Scáil); D Ó Geibheannaigh (Daingean Uí Chúis), D Uosis (Daingean Uí Chúis), R Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht).
S Óg O Móráin (Daingean Uí Chúis) for Firtéar (58); A Ó Dubháin (An Ghaeltacht) for Ó Failbhe (59).
D Burns (Na Gaeil); P White (John Mitchels), T Brick (Ballymacelligott), D Bourke (Na Gaeil); J Walsh (Knocknagoshel), S Hamilton (Churchill), J Myers (John Mitchels); S Quilter (Austin Stacks), D Fitzmaurice (Austin Stacks); D Goggin (Na Gaeil), D Regan (Ballymacelligott), M Scanlon (Castlegregory); F O’Brien (St Pats Blennerville), J Lenihan (Churchill), M Kelleher (John Mitchels).
E Carroll (Austin Stacks) for White (bc, 32); D Keane (Ballymacelligott) for Lenihan (38); J Mortimer (Churchill) for Regan (52); D O’Rourke (Austin Stacks) for Goggin (58); K Williams (John Mitchels) for Hamilton (60).
D Murnane (Cork).