St Brendan's College Killarney were given a stern test by a Rob Monahan inspired Mercy Mounthawk before pulling clear in the final corner of this all-Kerry Corn Ui Mhuiri semi-final played in glorious conditions at the Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney.
St Brendan's, despite not being at their best, can thank the teams' leaders, full back Cian Lynch, midfielder John Kelliher, and their bustling full forward Luke Crowley who had a big game at the edge of the Mounthawk square.
While Mounthawk had Rob Monahan in man-of-the-match form at midfield, they could not get enough ball to their danger man Paddy Lane and even when Lane got on the ball both Michael and Cian Lynch denied him with outstanding defensive play.
Despite Mounthawk arguably being the better team in the first period, the scoreline changed dramatically on the stroke of 30 minutes when the Sem punished them for a poor pass back to their goalkeeper. Callum Cronin beat Michael Tansley in a footrace and kicked the ball into an empty net to put his side 1-6 to 0-6 to the good. Jamie Moynihan then made it a four-point game at the break.
Mounthawk’s Paddy Lane forced a big save out of Shay O’Meara in the Sem goal in the third minute as the majority of scores in the first period came from turnovers. Bobby Byrne was black-carded for Mounthawk in the 22nd minute as they had led on the scoreboard for much of the first period until a Luke Crowley free put the Sem 0-6 to 0-5 up in the 24th minute.
The Sem would have been very happy to have led at the break only 72 hours after their quarter-final win over Bandon. Odhran Ferris and Robert Monahan had done a lot of hard graft for Mounthawk in the first half but their best first-half point was arguably a Niall Collins effort in the 21st minute.
Robert Monahan put the Sem under huge pressure in the early part of the second half as the gap was cut to at 1-8 to 0-10 before a second Cillian Courtney point and a John Kelliher effort settled the Killarney school at the three-quarter mark.
Two Luke Crowley points and a Callum Cronin free put them 1-13 to 0-10 ahead on 50 minutes but the game was ended as a contest a minute later when Cronin fisted a good ball into his path over Tansley and into the Mounthawk net to make it a nine-point game.
So St Brendans College will now meet St Francis College Rochestown in the Corn Ui Mhuiri decider on February 11th and they will be trying to win their 24th title in a Kerry v Cork confrontation.
C Cronin (2-1, 1f), L Crowley (0-7, 3f), C Courtney (0-2), S Fitzgerald, A Hennigan, J Kelliher, T Moynihan, J Moynihan and A O’Neill (0-1 each)
R Monahan (0-8, 3f, 1m), P Lane, N Collins, O Ferris, D O’Connor and T Kennedy (0-1 each)
S O’Meara (Dr Crokes); M Lynch (Dr Crokes), C Lynch (Glenflesk), J Williams (Kilcummin); C Courtney ( Dr Crokes) , K O’Shea (Kilcummin), S Fitzgerald (Dr Crokes); J Kelliher (Glenflesk), D Ryan (Fossa); T Moynihan (Spa), A O’Neill (Renard), J Moynihan (Glenflesk); C Cronin (Glenflesk), L Crowley (Glenflesk), A Hennigan (Dr Crokes)
P Moynihan (Kilcummin) for C Courtney (53), E Kelly (Glenflesk) for C Cronin and L Daly (Kilcummin) for J Williams (both 59) and N O’Carroll (Dr Crokes) for D Ryan (60 +2)
M Tansley (Austin Stacks), G O’Riordan ( Ardfert). J Murphy (do), S Rice (Ballymacelligott); S Corkery (John Mitchels), C Litchfield (Austin Stacks), B Byrne (John Mitchels); R Monahan (Ardfert), D O’Sullivan (do); N Collins (Ballymacelligott), O Ferris (Ardfert), D Kirby (Austin Stacks); D O’Connor (Kerins O’Rahillys), T Kennedy (do), P Lane (Austin Stacks)
N Townsend (Austin Stacks) for D O’Sullivan (52) and P O’Halloran (do) for B Byrne (60 +2)
J Griffin (Glenbeigh/Glencar)