South squeeze past Strand road

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - PAUL BREN­NAN Fitzger­ald Sta­dium, Kil­lar­ney

SOUTH Kerry, the old dogs for the hard road, dug deep into all their re­serves of ex­pe­ri­ence and poise to find the clutch scores down the stretch to edge past Kerins O’Rahillys and back into a county fi­nal meet­ing with Dr Crokes that will pit the county champions of the last two years to­gether.

Bryan Shee­han was touch and go all last week to shake off a leg in­jury and take his place in the South Kerry team, but the St Marys man not only started but he played a cru­cial role in the di­vi­sional side’s vic­tory against an O’Rahillys team that had their chances to win but would have to con­cede were beaten by a bet­ter team.

With lit­tle be­tween the teams on the score­board through­out, a 59th minute Daniel Daly free and a Mark Grif­fin score a minute later nudged South Kerry into a 0-12 to 1-7 lead with three min­utes of ad­di­tional time sig­nalled. Barry John Keane landed a mon­ster 50-me­tre free in the sec­ond of those three min­utes to half the deficit but an­other free from 55 me­tres a minute later drifted high and wide to end O’Rahillys hopes of a first county fi­nal ap­pear­ance since 2008.

The vic­tory sets up a South Kerry ver­sus Dr Crokes fi­nal that will evoke mem­o­ries of their 2005, 2006 and 2009 fi­nal meet­ings, all three of which the di­vi­sional side won. Given how Crokes dis­patched of West Kerry in their semi-fi­nal there is no doubt the reign­ing champions will be hot favourites to re­tain their ti­tle, and South Kerry will know bet­ter than most that con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment will be needed on this per­for­mance if they are to de­throne the Kil­lar­ney club. Still, as the old cliché goes - and as South Kerry man­ager Wil­liam Har­mon con­firmed - semi-fi­nals are just there to be got over, and South Kerry did that with a quin­tes­sen­tial ‘semi-fi­nal’ per­for­mance.

It took quite some time for the con­test to catch fire, but it ended in a blaze of scores and ex­cite­ment as the di­vi­sional side en­gi­neered a come from be­hind win in the fi­nal quar­ter.

Jack Sav­age’s first half penalty looked for a long time as if it might be the score to sep­a­rate the teams at the end but South Kerry scored five of the last seven points to pull off the per­fect come-from-be­hind win. Shee­han had an off day with his usu­ally im­pec­ca­ble free tak­ing but he made up for those er­rant kicks off the florr with three first half points from play and then pro­ceded to pro­pel his side for­ward in the sec­ond half, al­beit from the slightly more ad­vanced po­si­tion of cen­tre for­ward.

That first half was an er­ror-rid­den af­fair, with both sides guilty of sev­eral un­forced er­rors and some ter­ri­ble dis­tri­bu­tion. Shee­han opened the scor­ing with a punched point after seven min­utes but that lead lasted just three min­utes when Sav­age rolled his penalty to the cor­ner of the South Kerry net after Padraig Grif­fin was fouled after a neat as­sist from Tommy Walsh op­er­at­ing at full for­ward.

With Walsh match­ing up on Grif­fin on the edge of the square, and Shee­han play­ing more so at no.11 it was left to David Mo­ran to en­gage his fel­low Kerry pan­el­list Bren­dan O’Sul­li­van at mid­field, with the Valen­tia man prob­a­bly just about en­joy­ing the up­per-hand over the hour.

O’Rahillys lost John Fer­gu­son at half time through in­jury, and though they were 1-3 to 0-5 in front at half time, there was a lit­tle more about South Kerry at that stage, even it was only that they had cre­ated more scor­ing chances and kicked more wides in that first half.

Sav­age (free) and Tommy Be­g­ley got early sec­ond half scores to put the Tralee club 1-5 to 0-5 ahead, but after Keane and Daly ex­changed scores, South Kerry be­gan to find their rhythm.

Sub­sti­tute Niall O’Shea and Paul O’Donoghue (‘45’) brought them to within a point - ei­ther side of a Shee­han shot that was cleared off the line - and then Daly and sub­sti­tute Ian Galvin (free) gave them a 0-10 to 1-6 lead after 55 min­utes.

Sav­age lev­elled mat­ters a minute later but that score and Keane’s in­jury-time point were the only scores O’Rahillys could muster in the last 26 min­utes. Mean­while, Daly and Grif­fin found the tar­get at other end to book South Kerry’s place in the fi­nal on Sun­day week.

SOUTH Kerry: Padraig O’Sul­li­van, Brian Su­grue, Mark Grif­fin 0-1, Fio­nan Clif­ford, Paul O’Sul­li­van, John Cur­ran, Robert Whar­ton, Bryan Shee­han 0-3, Bren­dan O’Sul­li­van, Conor O’Shea, Paul O’Donoghue 0-1 ‘45’, Gra­ham O’Sul­li­van, Ro­nan Hussey 0-1f, Matthew O’Sul­li­van 0-1, Daniel Daly 0-3 (1f). Subs: Niall O’Shea 0-1 for R Hussey (35), Ian Galvin 0-1f for M O’Sul­li­van (42), Oran Clif­ford for P O’Donoghue (48), Shane O’Con­nor for J Cur­ran (58)

KERINS O’Rahillys: Gary Kis­sane, Danny O’Sul­li­van, Ross O’Cal­laghan, Tommy Be­g­ley 0-1, Ryan Car­roll, Cor­mac Cof­fey, Karl Mullins, David Mo­ran, Tommy Walsh 0-1, Padraig Grif­fin, Con Bar­rett, Gavin O’Brien, Barry John Keane 0-3 (2f), Jack Sav­age 1-2 (1-0, pen, 0-1f), John Fer­gu­son 0-1. Subs: Gearoid Sav­age for J Fer­gu­son (30+3, inj), Cian Say­ers for G O’Brien (30+3), Tom Hoare for T Walsh (46), Shane Bros­nan for P Grif­fin (59)

REF­EREE: Ed­die Walsh (Rath­more)

Con Bar­rett, Kerin’s O’Rahillys, is pur­sued by South Kerry’s Oran Clif­ford, Conor O’Shea and Brian Su­grue in last Saturday’s County Se­nior Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship semi-fi­nal in Fitzger­ald Sta­dium, Kil­lar­ney.

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