AIB MUNSTER CLUB JFC FINAL:
Keel (Kerry) v Feohanagh/Castlemahon (Limerick)
Since the inception of the All-Ireland junior club series back in 2004, Munster representation has always been of Kerry origin, barring 2007 of course.
Keel claimed Kingdom honours on that occasion, but failed to add the provincial crown, shown the exit door at the semi-final juncture by the eventual winners, Cork’s Canovee.
Over nine seasons, eight Kerry teams have hoisted the Munster trophy and Keel are branded with the failure to deliver to this very day.
Six years on, the Mid-Kerry club are presented with their shot at redemption, a chance to continue a tradition they had once severed.
“There is definitely a desire there to atone for that defeat,” said manager PJ Reidy.
“It still comes back to haunt them. Even before the Mount Sion game we spoke about that previous semi-final defeat, we have spoken about it this week. We are the only Kerry team that hasn’t won the Munster junior club title since it came in 2004 and the lads are keenly aware of that.
“We know we will have to up it this Sunday and play at a level we have never before reached. It is a massive challenge for us. It is at the back of these guys’ heads and they want to prove themselves to their doubters around the county. Even within the club they are still getting grief for that defeat. They just want to right the wrongs and now that they have their chance.”
Feohanagh-Castlemahon provide the final opposition and Reidy warns the Limerick champions are not to be underestimated, pointing to the spread of scorers who contributed in their win over Coolmeen. But the prolificacy of his own outfit en-route to the decider – 16 points they had to spare over Mount Sion last time out — lends itself to the conclusion that they will not be stopped in their second provincial foray.
“They have something we haven’t met all year — a good spread of scorers. They have five, six lads that can get on the board. Mitchelstown and Mount Sion had one or two chief-scorers, but these lads have plenty of lads who can find a score. It is something we are definitely worried about. James Guina is their free-taker, then they have Jeff Reidy, Mike Fitzgibbon, Tossie Butler and Paddy Carroll. It is something we haven’t met in the last couple of weeks. It won’t be a case of trying to hold one man down, it will be trying to hold three or four lads.
“Our own run is not a worry. The beauty of this is six or seven of the current panel were involved when we lost the Munster semi-final to Canovee back in 2007. They know what is expected. We beat Mitchelstown and they were a very good side. Then we faced Mount Sion... I suppose you can only beat the opposition that is put in front of you. We had a very difficult route in Kerry. We came up against all the favourites and we had to beat every one of them — Tarbert, St. Pat’s Blennerville in the semi-final and then Glenbeigh-Glencar were ridiculous odds in the final.
“We know we are going in as favourites because of the tradition of Kerry clubs in the competition, but at the same time we have experienced the other side of the coin as we have been underdogs all year.”
Reidy’s troops were rank outsiders ahead of their county final date with Glenbeigh-Glencar and with three minutes of injury-time elapsed and leading by two, the latter were poised to claim the spoils. A hopeful Gary Sayers punt however, caused mayhem in the square and when the referee pointed to the penalty spot Keel forward Liam Sheehan looked across at his manager and waited for the order.
“The instruction was to go for the goal, go for broke,” laughs Reidy.
“There was no point taking the draw. People were saying we were very lucky to win that, but what they don’t remember is that we were six up at the break. They scored their first point on four minutes and we then kept them scoreless for the rest of the half. They got a goal and we then hit the post at the change of ends. They really started to dominate. Liam looked over and I told him to put it in the back of the net. It hit the post and could have gone anywhere after than but thankfully it came back to Liam and he finished it. Thankfully, the gods were looking down on us. We took it and we’ll take another one this weekend.”
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