A Gearóid Savage point in the fifth minute of second-half stoppages - which was the substitute’s first involvement in proceedings - handed victory to Kerins O’Rahilly’s in this entertaining Kerry SFC first-round fixture.
Having held a three-point advantage 12 minutes from the end of the regulation hour, the men from Strand Road found themselves one in arrears two minutes into injury-time when the flawless Sean O’Shea slotted his sixth placed-ball effort to nudge Kenmare in front.
Referee Jonathan Griffin had already signalled for five additional minutes and so there was no sense of panic or desperation from Kerins O’Rahilly’s as they set about engineering an equalising score.
They didn’t have to wait too long as a foul within the scoring zone of Jack Savage enabled the Rahilly’s free-taker land his seventh white flag of the contest.
From the ensuing restart, Kenmare sought to work possession from deep, but a stray pass in their own half of the field gifted the initiative to their opponents, the play ending with Gearoid Savage, introduced for the black-carded Con Barrett just three minutes earlier, supplying the winner.
Kenmare will be disappointed to come off second best, particularly when working so hard to haul themselves back into contention. What is certain, though, is that they will be a handful for Rathmore in the second round.
Operating with two sweepers, it was they who began more impressively here, leading throughout the opening half. They were off the mark inside 65 seconds, Sean O’Shea converting a free which had been given against his marker, Ross O’Callaghan, for holding off the ball.
The Kerry centre-forward was scorer-turned-provider for their second, laying off the final pass for Paul O’Connor.
Tom Hoare and the excellent Cormac Coffey put Kerins O’Rahilly’s back on level footing, but of the next five scores, four were landed by men in red and black to leave the scoreboard reading 0-6 to 0-3 in Kenmare’s favour.
The pick of the bunch was an outside of the boot effort from midfielder David Hallissey after Stephen O’Brien had forced Coffey to rush his attempted clearance.
A pair of Jack Savage frees cut the gap to the minimum, but Mike Quirke’s side was far too open at the other end of the field and in no way comfortable when hit on the counter.
Another Kenmare burst of four scores from a sequence of five materialised midway through the half, included in which was the opening green flag of proceedings. It was midfielder Hallissey who found the net, played through by a sumptuous Paul O’Connor pass.
At 1-9 to 0-6 behind, last year’s semi-finalists were in a spot of bother.
To their credit, they’d finish the half the stronger, outscoring their opponents by 1-2 to 0-1 to leave just two between them at the break (1-10 to 1-8).
John Ferguson was the Kerins O’Rahilly’s goal-scorer, a green flag which stemmed from a lost Kenmare restart. Kieran Fitzgibbon had started the day between the sticks but an injury forced him off after 18 minutes. His replacement, Ray O’Shea, struggled from the kicking tee.
Bar the closing minutes, the second half offered less quality, excitement, and, indeed scores. Cormac Coffey, who time and again marauded forward from deep, was rewarded for his hard running when delivering a second Kerins O’Rahilly’s goal on 32 minutes to shove Quirke’s side in front for the first time.
Tommy Walsh, Savage (free), and two from sub Barry John Keane later sent Rahilly’s three clear (2-12 to 1-12). They would then proceed, however, to go 11 minutes without adding to their tally, during which time Tom Murnane, O’Shea (free and ‘45), and James McCarthy reeled off four without reply to propel Kenmare ahead.
It set up a grandstand finish, one which the Tralee side shaded by the narrowest of margins.
Scorers for Kerins O’Rahilly’s: J Savage (0-7, 0-6 frees); C Coffey (1-1); J Ferguson (1-0); T Hoare, T Walsh, BJ Keane (0-2 each); G Savage (0-1).
Scorers for Kenmare Shamrocks: S O’Shea (0-8, 0-5 frees, 0-1 ‘45); D Hallissey (1-1); P O’Connor (0-3); S O’Brien (0-2); D McCarthy, J McCarthy, T Murnane (0-1 each).
G Kissane; D McElligott, D Murphy, C Coffey; R Carroll, R O’Callaghan, K Mullins; D Moran, S Brosnan; T Hoare, J Ferguson, G O’Brien; J Savage, T Walsh, C Hayes.
Subs: BJ Keane for Hayes (HT); C Barrett for Brosnan (43); P Griffin for Ferguson, D O’Sullivan, for Mullins (both 48); S Walsh for Hoare (56); G Savage for Barrett (62, bc).
K Fitzgibbon; D Crowley, D O’Shea, T O’Sullivan; D O’Connor, D McCarthy, J McCarthy; K O’Sullivan, D Hallissey; M Crowley, S O’Shea, T Murnane; S O’Brien, P O’Connor, S O’Leary.
Subs: R O’Shea for Fitzgibbon (18 mins, inj); F O’Sullivan for Crowley (44); G Wharton for D O’Connor (52).
Referee: J Griffin