A last-gasp punched point by Griffin Wharton snatched a crucial draw for Kenmare Shamrocks against a Spa side who should have made this game secure long before the late sucker punch.
Kenmare had to dig deep and summon all their reserves after they trailed for most of this hard-hitting contest. And they were reduced to 14 players when Kerry All-Ireland-winner Stephen O’Brien picked up a very harsh second yellow card in the 28th minute.
Kenmare played with much more intensity than in their opening round loss to Na Gaeil and were in front early with points from James McCarthy and man of the match Seanie O’Shea. But with the Cronins, Shane and Evan, and Liam Kearney driving Spa forward, they were soon in the contest. Though two Seanie O’Shea points and a beauty from Stephen O’Brien had Shamrocks leading 0-5 to 0-2 at the water break.
Spa took over the second quarter with a succession of points from David Spillane (2), Cian Murphy, Mike Foley (free), Shane Cronin (45), and Evan Cronin with a solitary reply from O’Shea. Spa led 0-8 to 0-6 at half time and would have a extra man for the second half.
Liam Kearney was now a central figure for Spa as well as the hardworking Ryan Carroll with Kenmare having to drop players back and leave just one up front. Points from Kearney and a brace each from David Spillane and Evan Cronin moved Spa 0-14 to 0-10 clear by the second half water break. Seanie O’Shea was keeping Kenmare in the contest with expert long-range free taking.
Spa then got sloppy in possession and kicked a few bad wides. Paul O’Connor was unlucky not to find the Spa net with a 50th-minute chip after a keeper error, but Kenmare did strike for the crucial goal in the 59th minute when a long delivery saw Tommy O’Sullivan — up from full-back — outfield two defenders and bury the ball in the Spa net.
O’Shea levelled the contest at 0-16 to 1-13 in the 64th minute only for Evan Cronin to convert a free for what looked to be the winner.
But in one final assault Kenmare Shamrocks' Paul O’Connor saw his point effort drop into the square and Griffin Wharton rose highest to score the equaliser.
Spa now have three points but must travel to Na Gaeil next weekend who are on two, while Dingle on two points must travel to Kenmare who have one. All to play for.
E Cronin (0-5, 1f), D Spillane (0-4), M Foley (1f), S Cronin (1’45) and C Murphy (0-2 each), L Kearney and C Spillane (0-1 each).
S O’Shea (0-9, 5 frees, 1m), T O’Sullivan (1-0), J McCarthy (0-2, 1m), S O’Brien, P O’Connor and G Wharton (0-1 each).
J Devane; E O’Donoghue, D O’Donoghue, E Fitzgerald; S Lynch, S Cronin, G Vaughan; L Kearney, C Spillane; R Carroll, E Cronin, C Stack; C Murphy, M Foley, D Spillane
M O’Donoghue for C Stack (50), C Tobin for C Murphy (53), L Spillane for S Lynch (58), B Lynch for E O’Donoghue (60+4)
K Fitzgibbon; T Cronin, Tommy O’Sullivan, D Cronin; D O’Shea, J McCarthy, J O’Regan; D Hallissey, S O’Shea; S O’Sullivan, K O’Sullivan, S O’Brien; Griffin Wharton, Tommy O’Sullivan, P O’Connor
Subs: D Ciuciu for Griffin Wharton (39), J Lehane for T O’Sullivan (Atlantic) (50), Griffin Wharton for K O’Sullivan (54), R O’Sullivan for J O’Regan (54), P O’Brien for J McCarthy (56).
T Corbett (Firies)