It's not over til' it's over! There is nothing more rewarding in sport that a dramatic comeback. Just ask Ballymacelligott who looked to be in an impossible position as they trailed Austin Stacks 2-9 to 0-6 with the clock showing 46 minutes gone in this inaugural Tralee-St Brendan's District Board SFC final at the Austin Stack Park.
Stacks had run their bench and must have been confident of victory against a Ballymac side whose last District Championship success was in 1971 when it was the Castleisland District they played in.
First-half goals from Adam Curran and Jordan Kissane and some superb points by Donagh McKivergan (whose younger brother plays with Ballymac) saw managerless Stacks lead 2-6 to 0-5 at half-time with Aidan Breen (3), Dylan Dunne and Padraig McCarthy getting on the scoresheet for Ballymac.
Three third-quarter points from Jordan Kissane, Kerry senior Jack O’Shea, and Adam Curran saw Stacks push further ahead as Aidan Breen kicked another free.
It was still a nine-point game with just 13 minutes remaining and then like a bolt out of the blue, Ballymac struck for a goal that flipped this final in its head. Aidan Breen threaded a pass through to Donal Daly who was fouled 25 metres from goal. Stacks protested and the referee moved it closer. The quick-thinking Daly drove it powerfully to the net as Stacks continued their protests.
Ballymac had momentum with Darragh Broderick now on with a broken bone in his hand. Aidan Breen moved out to the forty and added a point, as did Adam Sheehy. A four-point game with six left. Breen then fired over from almost fifty metres but McKivergan converted a mark.
Daire Keane then kicked a point before Ballymac scored another goal two minutes from time. Breen found Darragh Regan and while he was denied by a point-blank save by keeper Ben Quilter, Darragh Broderick finished the rebound to the net — incredibly it was 2-11 apiece.
Ballymac keeper Frank O’Rahilly made a stunning block to deny Stacks a late winner and it was left to Darragh Broderick and man of the match Aidan Breen to kick over the points that made Ballymac the first winners of the Tralee-St Brendans District SFC.
A Breen (0-8, 6 frees, 1 45); D Broderick (1-1); D Daly (mark), D Dunne, P McCarthy, D Keane and A Sheehy (0-1 each)
D McKivergan (0-5, 2 marks), A Curran (1-2), J Kissane (1-1, 1 free), L Chester, J O’Shea and E Carroll (0-1 each)
F O’Rahilly; D Sweeney, D O’Shea, D Dunne; C Counihan, M Reidy, A Joy; T Brick, C Dunne; P McCarthy, D O’Regan, D Daly; B Lyons, A Breen, D Keane.
A Sheehy for B Lyons (ht), J O’Keeffe for D Dunne (34), M Herlihy for A Joy (40), D Broderick for P McCarthy (42).
B Quilter; L Chester, B Shanahan, P O’Sullivan; A Curran, J O’Shea, E Carroll; W Guthrie, M O’Donnell; C O’Connell, J Kissane, J Morgan; D McKivergan, G Fitzgerald, C Myers.
C Dillane for C O’Connell (ht), R O’Connell for C Myers (ht), G Sheehan for G Fitzgerald (38), G Scanlon for A Curran (47), A Morrissey for J Kissane (47).
M Hennessy (Ballyduff)