South Kerry 0-12 Kerins O’Rahilly’s 1-8: Both South Kerry and Kerins O’Rahilly’s will make for Austin Stack Park on October 22; silverware and survival their respective priorities.
A county final berth wasn’t all that concentrated the Kerins O’Rahilly’s mindset arriving into Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Their poor form in Kerry’s secondary competition – the club championship - meant victory was a must were they to avoid a relegation play-off against Kilcummin.
One would need some sort of a mathematics degree to fully comprehend how the various championships in the Kingdom work, but the bottom line ahead of this semi-final was that a win for Kerins O’Rahilly’s would relegate Kilcummin to intermediate as reaching the county decider precludes a club from demotion, irrespective of results elsewhere.
Fine margins, indeed. So while the Strand Road outfit will be present on county final afternoon, their involvement is tied to the curtain-raiser and scrap for survival.
South Kerry couldn’t be more thankful of the board’s decision to opt for Austin Stack Park, ahead of Fitzgerald Stadium, as the final venue. It was in Tralee, 12 months ago, where they relinquished their hold on the Bishop Moynihan Cup. And it is there where they’ll bid to win it back.
“Last year, I’m not going to beat around the bush here, we were very disappointed to lose to Dingle in the quarter-final,” said South Kerry manager William Harmon. “That defeat hurt us an awful lot. It actually drove us to come on a bit harder this year. I’ll never forget that dressing-room in Austin Stack Park and the disappointment there was inside in it. To have a four-point lead and not go any further hurt us. To be back in the final, I’m delighted. All the hard work has paid off.”
They certainly made hard work of this, reversing the result of their first-round meeting back in May. Two points in the opening 25 minutes, four different free-takers and 13 wides contributed to Barry John Keane having the chance to level proceedings deep in second-half stoppage time. It shouldn’t have come to that, even if the Kerry forward was off target from a good distance out.
Bryan Sheehan, having been forced off through injury early in their quarter-final, was a force of nature on Saturday. He fisted their opener, set-up their second, and all also landed South Kerry’s third and fifth scores either side of a Ronan Hussey free approaching half-time.
Hussey assumed dead-ball responsibilities after Sheehan had failed to convert four placed-ball efforts. It was to the latter’s credit that he wasn’t deterred by this succession of early misses. He continued to torment the Kerins O’Rahilly’s defence and almost had the ball in the back of the net but for a superb goal-line clearance from Danny O’Sullivan.
Elsewhere, Daniel Daly chipped in with his usual few points, Brendan O’Sullivan spoiled almost every ball David Moran went after, Mark Griffin saw Tommy Walsh depart with a quarter of an hour remaining, Paul O’Sullivan kept Jack Savage to a point from play, as did Brian Sugrue with Barry John. Off the bench, Niall O’Shea and Ian Galvin both kicked second-half points, while Oran Clifford won two crucial frees, the second of which allowed South Kerry return in front two minutes out.
“When it comes to this stage of the championship, you need your big players to step up. Bryan Sheehan always steps up. His commitment is absolutely phenomenal,” Harmon continued.
“We knew we had to change our game slightly in the second-half and go towards more of a running game. The subs we brought on allowed us to do that.” He added: “This is worth a month’s training. Dingle, Rathmore and now Rahilly’s, we’ve been tested in each of them. Each game has been level with around 15 minutes to go and we’ve come out on the right side. If we’re in a game with 10 minutes to go, we know we have the battlers to push us on.”
Kerins O’Rahilly’s, courtesy of a 10th minute Jack Savage penalty, led 1-3 to 0-5 at the break. Early second-half scores from Savage (free), Tommy Begley and Barry John pushed them 1-6 to 0-6 in front, but they’d fail to add to their tally between the 39th and 56th minute. Savage ended that barren spell to tie matters at 1-7 to 0-10.
The next two scores arrived at the opposite end — Daly (free) and Mark Griffin the providers — and although Barry John kicked a monstrous free to split the deficit, he was unable to repeat the trick minutes later.
Kerins O’Rahilly’s managed just five points from play over the hour.
Scorers for South Kerry:
D Daly (0-1 free), B Sheehan (0-3 each); I Galvin (0-1 free), N O’Shea, M O’Sullivan, P O’Donoghue (0-1 ’45), R Hussey (0-1 free), M Griffin (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerins O’Rahilly’s:
J Savage (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-1 free); BJ Keane (0-3, 0-2 frees); T Walsh, J Ferguson, T Begley (0-1 each).
P O’Sullivan (Skellig Rangers); B Sugrue (Renard), M Griffin (St Michael’s/Foilmore), F Clifford (Waterville); C O’Shea (St Mary’s), P O’Sullivan (Valentia), R Wharton (Renard); J Curran (Valentia), B O’Sullivan (Valentia); G O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses), B Sheehan (St Mary’s), P O’Donoghue (St Mary’s); R Hussey (Sneem/Derrynane), M O’Sullivan (St Michael’s/Foilmore), D Daly (St Mary’s).
N O’Shea (Dromid Pearses) for Hussey (34); I Galvin (Sneem/Derrynane) for M O’Sullivan (42); O Clifford (Waterville) for O’Donoghue (48); S O’Connor (Dromid Pearses) for Curran (57)
G Kissane; D O’Sullivan, R O’Callaghan, T Begley; C Coffey, R Carroll, K Mullins; D Moran, C Barrett; P Griffin, J Savage, G O’Brien; J Ferguson, T Walsh, BJ Keane.
G Savage for Ferguson, C Sayers for O’Brien (30 mins); T Hoare for Walsh (45); S Brosnan for Griffin (57).
E Walsh (Rathmore).
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