David Clifford gave a flawless exhibition of shooting as his nine points, seven from play, guided East Kerry to the division’s first Kerry SFC final in 20 years.
Six points up early in the second half, East Kerry should have made lighter work of this semi-final in Fitzgerald Stadium. Not until Paudie Clifford’s successful free with the last kick were they truly comfortable.
East Kerry had three second-half goal chances in the second half but Eoghan O’Brien was level to two shots and Darragh Roche touched another wide. At the other end, substitute Killian Fitzgerald made an instant impact in winning a penalty in the 39th minute, which Niall Sheehy converted to the net.
That brought St Brendan’s to within three points and with Jack Barry growing in stature they were breathing down East Kerry’s necks in the closing stages, another replacement Brendan Poff making it a one-point game in additional time. However, East Kerry pushed on once more with the Clifford brothers kicking a free either side of one from Roche.
With Clifford kicking two from play, East Kerry stretched into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 12th minute. They kept their noses in front until the 22nd minute when Ivan Parker struck the equaliser. For all their possession, East Kerry struggled early on with their kick-outs facing a formidable St Brendan’s pairing in Barry and Diarmuid O’Connor.
Clifford came to the fore again, though, with the next couple of scores and East Kerry found the net in the 27th minute as Roche swivelled cleverly before dispatching a long kick in from Brian O’Donoghue to beat O’Brien.
D. Clifford (0-9, 2 frees); D. Roche (1-3, 0-3 frees); R. Buckley (0-2); M. Foley, L. Kearney, J. Sherwood, P. Clifford (free) (0-1 each).
N. Sheehy (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-2 frees); I. Parker, D. Griffin, J. Barry (0-2 each); D. O’Callaghan, B. O’Donoghue, E. O’Brien (free), T. Kerins, B. Poff (0-1 each).
J. Devane (Spa); N. Donohue (Firies), J. Sherwood (Firies). C. O’Donoghue (Glenflesk); S. Cronin (Spa), D. O’Donoghue (Spa), P. Warren (Gneeveguilla); L. Kearney (Spa), R. Buckley (Listry); E. Cronin (Spa), P. Clifford (Fossa), B. O’Donoghue (Glenflesk); D. Clifford (Fossa), D. Roche (Glenflesk), M. Foley (Spa).
P. Doyle (Gneeveguilla) for M. Foley (38); D. Spillane (Spa) for B. O’Donoghue (52); D. Brosnan (Gneeveguilla) for S. Cronin (60); N. McCarthy (Spa) for E. Cronin (60+4).
E. O’Brien (Churchill); F. Barry (Na Gaeil), K. O’Dwyer (St Pat’s), T. Wallace (Ardfert); P. Kearney (John Mitchels), T. Kerins (John Mitchels), A. Barry (Na Gaeil); J. Barry (Na Gaeil), D. O’Connor (Na Gaeil); D. O’Callaghan (St Pat’s, jc), D. Griffin (Ardfert), B. Barrett (Ardfert); N. Sheehy (John Mitchels), I. Parker (Churchill), A. O’Donoghue (John Mitchels).
B. Poff (St Pat’s) for K. O’Dwyer (36); K. Fitzgerald (Churchill) for A. O’Donoghue (37); L. Mulligan (St Pat’s) for N. Sheehy (46); J. Conway (St Pat’s) for D. O’Callaghan (47); J. Duggan (John Mitchels) for I. Parker, P. McMahon (St Pat’s) for D. Griffin (both 60).
J. Griffin (Glenbeigh-Glencar).