Beaufort carried on the proud Kerry tradition in the All-Ireland Junior grade making them the 11th Kingdom team to reach the decider since the competition’s inception in 2002 with a thrilling comeback victory over the Louth Champions Dundalk Young Irelands in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise.
The semi-final was a contrast of styles, expansive Beaufort on the attack, the Irelanders applying the padlocks in defence.
Fergal Hallisey rose above the tension to fire over four crucial second-half scores as they reeled in the Beaufort deficit down the stretch.
The game opened with a flurry as both teams struggled to compose themselves. Midfielder Ronan Murphy, a late introduction to the Beaufort side, gave them an early lead. However, Irelands' Maguire brothers were inspired against the run of play and notched three points between them.
Just as the opening quarter was ending Fergal Hallissey kept the Munster champions in touch with a free before Derek Maguire found the range again with two spectacular points from beyond the 45 to give the Dundalk side a healthy 5-2 advantage.
Having issues with his deadballs, Hallissey finally raised the flag having dropped two efforts short and one off the post. Their normally reliable talisman summed up the Kerry’s men's unease at this stage.
Jordan O’Donoghue scored two frees as the Beaufort full-back-line was guilty of fouling. Liam Carey nabbed a valuable point to make it a one-score game at the break, 7-4 to the Leinster side.
Two quickfire points from Hallissey and impressive Doona provided the reaction Eanna O’Malley’s side needed to spark the comeback.
Dundalk Young Irelands midfielder Seán McLoughlin picked up a second yellow the Beaufort wave gathered force.
Nathan Breen forced Fergal Sheekey into a great save. But Beaufort's full-court press penned the Dundalk men in they were soon level. Hallissey then gave his side the lead for the first time since the opening score with his first from play.
Jordan O’Donoghue did well to quell the momentum with tight angled frees to make it 10 apiece.
Hallissey’s nerves were eased when the lead free was brought in after dissent in the frantic Dundalk backline, while Ciarán Kennedy doubled his total with the vital insurance score.
Late on, Beaufort had full-length blocks from Hallissey and Mike Breen as they reached the February 9 decider.
Scorers for Beaufort: F Hallissey (0-6, 5 frees); L Carey, C Kennedy (0-2 each); R Murphy and P Doona (0-1 each).
Scorers for Dundalk Young Irelands: J O’Donoghue (0-4 frees); Derek Maguire (0-3), Dean Maguire (0-2), K Keelan (0-1).
DUNDALK YOUNG IRELANDS: F Sheekey; S Bellew, C Murray, P McCourt; P Nixon, Derek Maguire, C O’Nairaigh; S McLoughlin, D Rogers; J O’Donoghue, C O’Donoghue, K Keelan; M Savage, D Mone,Dean Maguire.
Subs: A Sheekey for D Rogers (34) S Azeeze for C O’Donoghue (42), A Rogers for C O’Nairaigh (43) J Lynch for A Sheekey (60).
BEAUFORT: M Moriarty;C O’Connor, G Hartnett, S Kelliher; J O’Sullivan, M Breen, J Kissane; N Breen, R Murphy, M Breen; P O’Sullivan, F Hallissey, P Doona; N O’Connor, C Kennedy, R Ferris.
Subs: L Carey for P O’Sullivan (26), MJ O’Connor for J O’Sullivan (38), I McGillycuddy for C O’Connor (43), D Healy for N O’Connor (56), D Coffey for R Ferris (65)
Referee: S Lonergan (Tipperary)