KERRY football’s love affair with the All-Ireland junior club championship continues as St Mary’s produced a stirring second half display to triumph at Croke Park on Saturday night.
After coming from four points down to draw level at half-time, the Kerry champions outscored their Cavan rivals by 3-6 to 0-1 to deservedly claim the title. It’s the third year in a row a Kerry club have captured this crown, and since the competition started in 2005 it’s the fifth time the cup has gone to the Kingdom.
Kerry senior star Bryan Sheehan has tasted the ultimate glory of capturing Sam Maguire at Croke Park in front of more than 80,000 people. But this will rank as one of his most cherished memories.
“It is very special because it’s where you start playing football and probably where you’ll finish up playing football as well. I’m delighted for this group and the work they have put in has been tremendous. We’ve fellas all over the world. We’ve Stephen Curran in Germany, Sean Cournane and Liam the brother are in London and Aidan Walsh is over in Miami and they were making the trip every second weekend back for this. All credit goes to them and credit goes to the club too, for digging deep into pockets to fly them over and back.”
Swanlinbar were well worth their first half lead when the excellent Gearóid McKiernan and John Cunningham had them 1-3 to 0-2 up after 15 minutes – with the goal coming from Mark Cunningham.
But the Kerry side held their nerve and impressively reeled in the Ulster men to go level 0-7 to 1-4 at the break.
They made no mistake upon the restart with Sean Cournane impressively bagging two goals in the space of six minutes while at the other end Stephen Curran and John A O’Sullivan starred in a tight marking Mary’s defence.
But Peter Keane’s Kerry men had the finesse when it came to finishing and the icing came in the 55 minute when a Sheehan ‘45’ curled and dropped into the top corner of the net.
Keane smiled: “It’s a great occasion for the club and a great occasion for these players. They have been very committed all year and put in tremendous work rate. You start out like every club at the start of the year and they all have the dream of getting to Croke Park and we’ve got there and won and it’s fantastic.”
ST MARY’S: D Horgan; B Curran, S Curran, I Casey; JA O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, N O’Driscoll; J Golden (0-1), B Sheehan (1-7, 1-0 ‘45’, 6f), C Quirke (0-1), A Constable, A Walsh (0-1); D Daly (0-1), P O’Donoghue (0-2), S Cournane (2-0).
Subs: S Horgan for Constable 48, G O’Driscoll for casey 52, A O’Sullivan for JA O’Sullivan 58, L Sheehan for Quirke 58.
SWANLINBAR: G Leydon; T O’Brien, M Cunningham, P Prior; D Leydon, J Cunningham, P Leydon; M Curran, G McKiernan (0-2); C Curran (0-1), P McGovern, D McGovern; M Cunningham (1-1, 1f), K Brennan, R Prior (0-1f).
Subs: A McGoldrick for D McGovern 42, R McBarron for Prior 47, P McManus for P McGovern 50, S Prior for Brennan 58.
Referee: B O’Shea (Dublin)
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