Through sheer belligerence and hard graft, not to mention a modicum of good fortune, Dingle resurrected their Kerry senior club championship campaign with a narrow Group A victory over Na Gaeil at Pairc an Aghasaigh.
After losing their opening encounter last weekend against Spa, the home team knew that nothing less than the two points on offer would suffice on this occasion, against a Tralee outfit buoyed by their impressive maiden voyage at this level when stunning Kenmare Shamrocks.
The first half certainly didn’t set the pulses racing, with attacking squander-mania the order of the day from both sides. When you consider that there were 13 wides and only nine scores recorded before half-time, such a statistic tells its own sorry story.
Despite Na Gaeil opening the scoring, it was Dingle who settled better and, with Barry O’Sullivan using his height to good effect as a target man (he notched two points), the West Kerry side enjoyed a three-point cushion (0-4 to 0-1) at the end of the first quarter.
On a stifling evening for football, the quality didn’t improve after the first water break, but even though they were struggling up front, with Jack Sheehan wayward with a decent goal opportunity, Na Gaeil dug in and reduced the deficit to the minimum at the interval (0-5 to 0-4).
Things simply had to improve on the resumption, and they certainly did. Indeed, three goals and almost a fourth before the 40th minute were the fireworks that, eventually, brought the contest to life, starting with Ruan McCarthy’s tap-in on the throw-in after Paul Geaney’s initial shot had been parried.
To give Na Gaeil their due, they responded magnificently, Sheehan receiving an astute pass from substitute Dan Goggin, before rocketing a blistering left-footed drive to the top corner of the Dingle net, and when Dylan Geaney was foiled at the other end by a stunning double block (which resulted in a point), the game was at fever pitch.
Within five minutes, after Jack Barry had flicked on a hop ball (awarded following a delayed Dingle kick-out), James O’Connor was first to react, calmly flicking the ball over the head of the advancing goalkeeper, and bringing the sides to parity (1-7 to 2-4).
The last quarter was hard-fought but uninspiring, producing just three scores, Barry O’Sullivan’s pointed free in the 58th minute proving decisive for the hosts, but Dingle were indebted to Gavin Curran’s point-blank save from Goggin, while Na Gaeil were left to rue late misses from Devon Burns (’45), Diarmuid O’Connor and Barry as time ran out.
B O’Sullivan 0-3 (0-1mk, 0-1f), R McCarthy 1-0, T O’Sullivan (0-1f), P Geaney (0-1f) 0-2 each, B O’Connor, G Durrant (mk), D Geaney 0-1 each.
J Sheehan 1-1, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-3 (fs), J O’Connor 1-0, K O’Donovan, J Bourke (mk) 0-1 each.
G Curran; M Flannery, D O’Sullivan, N Geaney; C Flannery, P O’Connor, M Geaney; B O’Sullivan, B O’Connor; G Durrant, T O’Sullivan, P Sheehy; D Geaney, P Geaney, R McCarthy.
M Flaherty for Sheehy (47 mins), C Bambury for D Geaney (50 mins), T de Brun for McCarthy (54 mins), B Devane for Durrant (59 mins).
D Burns; E O’Connor, N O’Mahony, L Barrett; F Barry, E Doody, J Doyle; D O’Connor, J Barry; K O’Donovan, D Reen, J O’Connor; J Bourke, D O’Connor, J Sheehan.
D Goggin for Dan O’Connor (ht), D Bourke for O’Donovan (47 mins), S O’Connor for Doody (56 mins).
B O’Shea (Keel).