Na Gaeil manager Donal Rooney praised his team’s efficiency after their eight-point win over Kilshanning in Saturday’s AIB Munster club junior football championship quarter-final.
A dominant first-half display from the Kingdom side saw them lead by five points at the interval, with the Cork champions failing to score from play in the opening 30.
Rooney was more surprised than elated at the outcome given his side last played a championship game six months ago.
He admitted: “Coming into the game we didn’t know where we were at, as it has been such a long time since we played a competitive game so that would have been the chief nervousness ahead of this match. But thankfully we performed really well.
“We managed the first half well, we were very efficient, perhaps we didn’t have as many attacks as we should have had but we were efficient when we did attack. They got bodies back and we managed to break them down.
“They got a goal before half-time and that lifted their morale and with our two Kerry seniors booked they might have tried to target us there so we felt that the first five or 10 minutes of that second half were hugely important, and thankfully we won that.”
Goals from Eanna O’Hanlon (penalty) and second-half substitute Jerome Murphy put a gloss on the final result for the Avondhu men who on this day can have no complaints as the better side took victory.
Na Gaeil were quickest from the traps with three points in the opening 10 minutes — all coming from a potent full-forward line of Diarmuid Herlihy, Jamie Lowham, and Dara Devine with Dan Goggin also impressing from the first whistle.
Devine made it a four-point gap as Kilshannig struggled to get anything like a meaningful attack. Things went from bad to worse for the Cork champions when they lost keeper Colm O’Dea to injury inside the quarter-hour mark before Herlihy got on the end of a searching ball from Eoin O’Neill to score the game’s first goal.
Kilshannig controlled the last 10 minutes of the half and worked a late penalty, which was fired to the bottom left corner by O’Hanlon, (1-5 to 1-0).
Na Gaeil were again on the front foot from the restart, pushing the gap out to seven when Herlihy landed his second goal ending this one as a genuine contest. The Tralee outfit move on to the last four where they will face Michael Cusacks (Clare) while for Kilshannig it is time to reflect and enjoy what has been a historic season.
Scorers for Na Gaeil: D Herlihy (2-2); D Devine (0-5, 4 frees); J Lowham, M Griffin, E Walsh, D O’Connor (free) (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kilshannig: E O’Hanlon (1-1, 1pen, 1f), J Murphy 1-0; K Twomey, C McMahon (0-1 each).
NA GAEIL:T Culloty; R O’Neill, K Dineen, D Bourke; F Barry, A Barry, E Doody; D O’Connor, J Barry; D O’Connor, Eoin O’Neill, D D Goggin; D Herlihy, J Lowham, D Devine.
Subs: M Griffin for J Lowham (40), D Reen for D Goggin (46), E Walsh for R O’Neill (50), K O’Donovan for Eoin O’Neill (53), J O’Connor for D Devine (57), S Fitzgerald for K Dineen (61), Eamonn O’Neill for T Culloty (64).
KILSHANNIG:C O’Dea; C Murphy, E Burke, R O’Mahony; C O’Shea, B Guerin, B Curtin; J Twomey, E O’Hanlon; K Twomey, K O’Hanlon, E O’Sullivan; J Kearney, D Twomey, C McMahon.
Subs:B O’Shea for E O’Sullivan (half time), F McCarthy D Twomey (46), J Murphy for J Kearney (46), K Flynn for J Twomey (58).
Referee: C Maguire (Clare).