This eagerly anticipated affair didn’t disappoint as East Kerry overcame a strong second-half comeback by Austin Stacks to run out six-point winners and dump the Tralee club out of the championship.
The Kerry Club winners were made to pay for a woeful opening 23 minutes in which they failed to score. East Kerry scored the opening five points as their inside trio of Ronan Buckley, Paudie Clifford and Brian O’Donoghue gave them a dominant platform in the first period.
A foul on Kieran Donaghy led to Austin Stacks’ first point, a Darragh O’Brien free, and the Tralee side appeared to have settled when Ronan Shanahan won possessionfrom a kickout in the 28th minute and put Micheál O’Gara through for the first of six goals on the day - 0-6 to 1-2.
East Kerry responded straight from the kick-out though as Buckley fed the onrushing Shane Cronin and the East Kerry midfielder goaled before a Dara Roche point put them 1-7 to 1-2 in front at the break.
On the threequarter mark Austin Stacks were right back in contention after Darragh O’Brien floated in a high ball that O’Gara fisted to the net to make it 1-10 to 2-5 after 44 minutes.
Sean Quilter and Shane Cronin exchanged points but Kieran Donaghy was proving the ideal target man for another Stacks high ball from Shane O’Callaghan. Donaghy fed Michael O’Donnell who buried a third goal to put Stacks ahead for the first time - 3-6 to 1-11 after 48 minutes.
It served as the wake-up call East Kerry needed. David Clifford was fouled and converted the free himself to level. And when Brian O’Donoghue was fouled bearing down on goal for an East Kerry penalty, it was David’s brother Paudie who converted the spot-kick to give East Kerry the lead again at 2-12 to 3-6 with nine minutes left.
Stacks only managed one further score through a Quilter free as substitute Mike Foley and Buckley combined to give Paudie Clifford plenty of space for his second goal past Robbie Murphy in the 56th minute.
East Kerry advance to Round 3 next weekend when they will face a heavyweight clash against another Tralee side, Kerins O’Rahilly’s.
Although they are eliminated from the Kerry SFC, Austin Stacks are still eligible to represent Kerry in the Munster SFC should a divisional or group side win the county.
Scorers for East Kerry:
P Clifford (2-1, 1 pen, 1’45’); S Cronin (1-1); D Clifford (2 frees) & D Roche (2 frees) (0-3 each); R Buckley & B O’Donoghue (0-2 each); and L Kearney (0-1)
Scorers for Austin Stacks:
M O’Gara (2-0); M O’Donnell (1-0); D O’Brien (2 frees) and S Quilter (2 frees) (0-3 each); S O’Callaghan (0-1)
J Devane (Spa); C O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), S Courtney (do), N Donohoe (Firies); D O’Donoghue (Spa), J Sherwood (Firies), P Warren (Gneeveguilla); L Kearney (Spa), S Cronin (do); R Buckley (Listry), P Clifford (Fossa), B O’Donoghue (Glenflesk); D Clifford (Fossa), D Roche (Glenflesk), E Cronin (Spa)
B Lynch (Spa) for Courtney (7), M Foley (do) for B O’Donoghue (54), D Spillane (do) for E Cronin (59), E Fitzgerald (do) for Donohoe (60 +1) and P Doyle (Gneeveguilla) for S Cronin (60 +2)
R Murphy; J O’Shea, B Shanahan, D Casey; J Morgan, C Jordan, R Shanahan; W Guthrie, J O’Connor; M O’Gara, D O’Brien, M O’Donnell; S Quilter, K Donaghy, S O’Callaghan
C O’Reilly for Jordan (38), C Griffin for Morgan (43) and F Mangan for D O’Brien (49).
B O’Shea (Keel)