After being the dominant side in the opening half, Tralee CBS had to withstand a tremendous PS Sliabh Luachra fightback which saw this cracking Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final require extra-time.
It was The Green who eventually came good at Fitzgerald Stadium to earn a meeting with rivals St Brendan’s in the final.
In a game that had everything, Tralee displayed more composure at key moments of a game that could have gone either way. Sliabh Luachra settled the quicker and took the lead when James Darmody converted a free but Sean Quilter responded with a similar effort.
Sliabh Luachra were tenacious in the tackle and Dan Murphy was dominant at midfield, while Alan Dineen and wing-back Cian Dineen were driving forward. However, Tralee CBS held a slender 0-4 to 0-3 lead after 20 minutes, thanks to Fergal O’Brien (2 frees) and a superb advanced mark from Conor Hayes, while the Rathmore side responded with a point from substitute Tommy Bowler and Darmody.
Sliabh Luachra were in all sorts of bother with their kick-outs, though, and Tralee went on a 1-4 scoring spree, with O’Brien blasting the ball to the Rathmore net as The Green moved 1-8 to 0-3 in front.
Sliabh Luachra were battling hard and Cathal Ryan (brother of Kerry 'keeper Shane) stopped the rot with a free and then rattled the Tralee net in the 29th minute. Suddenly the gap was a manageable four.
But The Green struck for 1-1 in injury time, with Cian Purcell not claiming the mark, instead bursting through for a goal that saw Tralee CBS lead 2-9 to 1-4 at the interval.
Sliabh Luachra resumed a transformed side and with the wind to their backs, as all Tralee had to show for the second half was two early Hayes points.
Ryan, Darmody (2) and Murphy added points and the deficit was five. Hayes' 39th-minute point was Tralee’s final score of normal time as the sin-binning of Quilter was just the boost Rathmore needed. Points from Ryan, Bowler, and Michael McSweeney, now at full-forward, meant that with 10 to go it was a three-point game.
Padraig White was immense for The Green but McSweeney and Darmody nailed scores to leave the minimum between the sides and Rathmore keeper Ian O’Connor was the hero when he levelled the contest in the 59th minute from a 45.
Darmody missed a potential winner from an acute angle but Tralee had three chances in six added minutes, too, all of which were sent wide.
After two early points from Darmody, Sliabh Luachra faded as Tralee dominated the final 15 minutes of extra-time.
Niall Fitzmaurice, Armin Henrich, the outstanding White, and Joe Lenihan led the charge as Hayes kicked two superb points, while O’Brien added another to give The Green a 2-16 to 1-16 half-time lead.
The second period saw Tralee add three more, with the highlight being a superb advanced mark from Quilter, to run out five-point winners.
Scores: Tralee CBS: S Quilter (0-8, 4 frees, 1 mark), F O’Brien (1-4), C Hayes (0-5, 1 mark), C Purcell (1-0), L Chester and C Myers (0-1 each)
PS Sliabh Luachra: C Ryan (1-4, 3 frees), J Darmody (0-7, 4frees, 1 mark), T Bowler and M McSweeney (0-2 each), I O’Connor (free) and D Murphy (0-1 each)
TRALEE CBS: D Burns; N Fitzmaurice, L Chester, R O’Sullivan; E Carroll, A Heinrich, P White; C Horan, J Lenihan: F O’Brien, D Reen, J Kissane; C Purcell, S Quilter, C Hayes.
Subs: D Broderick for C Horan (45), C Myers for J Kissane (53), D Moriarty for C Purcell (54), L Barrett for R O’Sullivan (59), J Kissane for D Reen (e/t)
PS Sliabh Luachra Rathmore: I O’Connor; M Dennehy, A Dineen, D Cronin; C Dineen, Paul O’Leary, A Moynihan; R Collins, D Murphy; Paudie O’Leary, C Ryan, M McSweeney; J Darmody, A Cronin, D Roche
Subs: T Bowler for A Cronin (inj 10), K Bowler for A Moynihan (e/t), D Gleeson for Paudie O’Leary (e/t), A Moynihan for T Bowler (e/t)
Referee: J Griffin (Glenbeigh/Glencar)