Local bragging rights and ascension to the top of the Kerry roll of honour were the spoils seized by Austin Stacks at the end of a tetchy Kingdom county football final.
Having seen their 47th minute 0-12 to 0-6 lead twice whittled to three during the game’s closing minutes, Stacks were forced to endure a nervy few moments at the death, but, in truth, their opponents never truly came close to grabbing the required goal to bring them back on level terms.
The three-point win represents Stacks’ first Kerry SFC title since 2014 and their 13th overall, moving them level with Dr Crokes at the top of the local roll of honour.
For their opponents, Kerins O’Rahillys’ wait for a first county title since 2002 will extend to a 20th year next season. This is a final that will always carry a large 'what if' for the men from Strand Road as they lost Gavin O’Brien to injury in the warm-up, with David Moran then hobbling out of the contest after only seven minutes.
Had they recovered from this double blow to overcome their neighbours, it would have been a phenomenal achievement. In the end, though, they spent the majority of the afternoon giving chase, behind from the 18th minute onward.
Stacks led 0-8 to 0-4 at the break and although Conor Hayes and Jack Savage (free) sandwiched a Darragh O’Brien placed-ball effort to reduce the margin to three on 36 minutes, the remainder of the third quarter belonged to the men in black and amber.
Sub Sean Quilter kicked a free with his first touch, followed by a Joseph O’Connor point and second Quilter free to leave the scoreline reading 0-12 to 0-6 at the second water break.
Rahillys, to their credit, roused themselves for one big final push, but the goal they so desperately craved was not to be found.
The first-half was one of pure misfortune for Kerins O’Rahillys as injury had taken out of the equation two of their leading actors by the seventh minute of proceedings.
Gavin O’Brien, so instrumental in their run to the final, appeared to injure himself in the warm-up and so was not present inside the whitewash when referee Jonathan Griffin got the final underway. A heavily strapped upper leg pointed to a hamstring injury that couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Further disaster befell the Strand Road outfit shortly after the throw-in as David Moran picked up a knee injury that, try and try as he did, he just could not shake off. The 33-year-old eventually gestured to the sideline that his day was done.
As the still standing Kerins O’Rahillys soldiers gathered themselves from the double setback of losing Moran and O’Brien, it was Stacks, unsurprisingly, who played all the early football.
Points from Michael O’Gara, Darragh O’Brien (free), and Fiacha Mangan shoved Stacks into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after 10 minutes, an advantage that probably should have been greater as Kieran Donaghy kicked wide with one chance, while Darragh O’Brien was blocked as he went to pull the trigger on another point attempt.
Their lead was cut to the minimum at the first water break thanks to an impossible free thrown over by Jack Savage, with Barry John Keane bringing Rahillys level at 0-3 apiece on 16 minutes.
Keane was their sole contributor from play in the opening half, with his second on 22 minutes Kerins O’Rahillys’ last of the half.
It was Stacks who finished the opening period much the stronger, a pair of O’Brien frees and a fine Brendan O’Sullivan effort after midfielder Joseph O’Connor dispossessed Cian Sayes sending Stacks back down the tunnel enjoying a double scores 0-8 to 0-4 interval advantage.
Never less than three did their lead shrink to during a second-half where Stacks not once looked like coming off second best in this Kerry decider.
D O’Brien (0-6, 6f); S Quilter (0-2, 2f); J O’Connor, M O’Gara, F Mangan, K Donaghy (mark), B O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
J Savage (0-6, 4f); BJ Keane (0-2); C Hayes, C Coffey (0-1 each).
W Guthrie; C Griffin, B Shanahan, D Casey; C Jordan, J O’Shea, P O’Sullivan; J O’Connor, G Horan; M O’Gara, F Mangan, B O’Sullivan; D O’Brien; K Donaghy, S O’Callaghan.
S Quilter for S O’Callaghan (42); J Morgan for Griffin (47); M O’Donnell for O’Gara (48); A Curran for O’Sullivan (53); A Heinrick for O’Brien (64).
S Foley; R O’Callaghan, S Brosnan, C Coffey; D McElligott, P Begley, C Sayers; C Barrett, D Moran; G Savage, J Savage, T Hoare; BJ Keane, T Walsh, C Hayes.
D O’Sullivan for Moran (7): S McElligott for Barrett (7-11, temporary); S McElligott for G Savage (52).