Con­way goal sets Kerry on their way to vic­tory

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - DAMIAN STACK

ALL IRE­LAND U-21 ‘B’ HC FI­NAL

Kerry 2-12 Wick­low 2-8

IT was just about the only moment in the match where you feared for the King­dom.

Not be­cause of the mar­gin at the time – three points with about twenty min­utes to go was never likely to prove in­sur­mount­able – but be­cause of the mo­men­tum it seemed likely to gen­er­ate for Wick­low and the mo­men­tum it de­nied the green and gold.

Ian Brick’s side had started the sec­ond half well. A Shane Con­way free two min­utes be­fore­hand had lev­elled the match up again. With the breeze at their backs into the town end, the tide was be­gin­ning to turn their way.

That was be­fore Wick­low scored a bril­liant team goal, work­ing the ball through Pádraig O’Toole and Seánie Ger­maine and onto Michael Boland for an ex­pertly taken fin­ish. It was a goal to win a fi­nal, a goal to rock a team back upon its heels, it was a goal which sug­gested Wick­low were go­ing nowhere.

This was one of those crunch mo­ments in the life of a team. Sink or swim. How Kerry re­sponded de­fined the fi­nal and de­fined their sea­son. How they re­sponded speaks in­cred­i­bly well of them. They re­sponded with fury and in­dig­na­tion and no lit­tle skill.

Straight from the puck-out, which the ever-im­pres­sive Jack Gould­ing won, Kerry went down the other end of the pitch and nabbed a goal of their own. Gould­ing got the ball to Shane Con­way and young Lix­naw flyer did the rest.

He cut in from the left and down to­wards Cian Staunton’s goal be­fore plant­ing it to the Wick­low shot-stop­per’s left. A great move, a class fin­ish. Far from reel­ing, the King­dom were strik­ing back and strik­ing back hard.

Kerry were the bet­ter team, they knew it too and they weren’t about to let Wick­low win a game that was rightly theirs. To em­pha­sise the point, Kerry got the game’s next score

– an­other goal, this one from Kil­moy­ley’s Mau­rice O’Con­nor.

With that sec­ond goal what­ever doubts were there were all but ex­tin­guished. Kerry were go­ing to win this game. It re­ally should have been more straight­for­ward than it was. In­stead a suc­ces­sion of wides gave Wick­low more hope than they scarcely had right to.

By the fifty third minute the three point lead Kerry had opened fol­low­ing O’Con­nor’s goal had been whit­tled down to just the min­i­mum – points from Shaun Hughes and Ger­maine – but even then the King­dom re­mained the dom­i­nant force in the game.

Barry O’Sul­li­van – who af­ter a slow start thun­dered into the game in the sec­ond half – as­sisted Daniel O’Car­roll to re-es­tab­lish a two point lead. Kerry, as they did for much of the sec­ond half, owned the ball. Wick­low were left lim­ited to the odd spo­radic at­tack here and there.

The Gar­den County had a few chances late on – an Enda Dono­hue free dropped short on fifty five min­utes – but the whip hand re­mained with Kerry. Even­tu­ally all that pres­sure told. Con­way pointed a free on fifty seven and Kerry were pushed three clear.

Then on the hour mark the Lix­naw man sent over a boom­ing long range ef­fort from about the half­way line and that truly was that. Kerry were de­served cham­pi­ons, even if they prob­a­bly never did hit the heights they’re ca­pa­ble of.

The con­di­tions, of course, played a large part in that, as could seen when the A fi­nal which fol­lowed never re­ally caught fire either. Wick­low too played their part. To the naked eye they looked a more ro­bust out­fit than Kerry and in the first half put that ex­tra heft to good ef­fect.

Still though they lacked that lit­tle bit of class up front to re­ally pun­ish Kerry. Even with Wick­low play­ing well and push­ing Kerry back, by the four­teenth minute Kerry ac­tu­ally led – four points to three.

It wasn’t un­til Michael Boland found the back of the net for the first time – fol­low­ing up on the re­bound when a Ger­maine shot was saved by Stephen Mur­phy – that Wick­low re­took the lead.

They main­tained that two point ad­van­tage at the break – 0-6 to 1-5 – and, with Gould­ing forc­ing a save from Staunton, Wick­low could count them­selves glad to have even that.

For as well as Wick­low com­peted, a two point lead was never likely to be enough in the sec­ond half against a team with the fire-power Kerry had at their dis­posal and, even not fir­ing any­where near 100%, that’s how it turned out.

There was just that one brief moment when we ques­tioned that as­sess­ment. Con­way’s re­sponse was em­phatic. He wasn’t go­ing to be de­nied and nei­ther were Kerry. As a re­sult the Richie McEl­lig­ott Cup re­sides in the King­dom for the first time.

That it was a Lix­naw man who helped make it hap­pen – and that it was a Lix­naw man who col­lected the cup – couldn’t pos­si­bly have been any more apt.

KERRY: Stephen Mur­phy (Cause­way), Ste­vie O’Sul­li­van (Abbey­dor­ney), Eoin Ross (Bal­ly­duff), Billy Lyons (Cause­way), Jason Dig­gins (Cause­way), John Buckley (Lix­naw), Jor­dan Brick (Kil­moy­ley), Barry O’Sul­li­van (Din­gle), Tomás O’Con­nor (Crotta O’Neills), Bran­don Bar­rett (Cause­way), Michael O’Leary (Abbey­dor­ney), Ro­nan Donovan (0-1) (Abbey­dor­ney), Mau­rice O’Con­nor (1-1) (Kil­moy­ley), Shane Con­way (1-6, 6f) (Lix­naw), Jack Gould­ing (0-3, 1 side­line cut) (Bal­ly­duff)

Subs: Daniel O’Car­roll (0-1) (Bal­ly­duff) for R Donovan, 48, Robert Collins for B Bar­rett, 50

WICK­LOW: Cian Staunton, Shaun Hughes (0-1), Oisín Fur­long, Seánie Maloney, Matthew Traynor, An­drew Hughes, Terry Healy, Christy Moore­house, Cor­mac Whit­more, Gary Hughes, Jack Doyle (0-2), Michael Boland (2-0), Enda Dono­hoe (0-3f), Pádraig Doyle, Seánie Ger­maine (0-2f) Subs: Pádraig O’Toole for C White­more, 31, Tier­nan Mel­lon for T Healy, 43

REF­EREE: Johnny Mur­phy (Lim­er­ick)

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