O’Rahillys ‘prize’ for defeat is a relegation battle with Kilcummin
USUALLY a semi-final defeat in the county championship would mean a mid-week debrief for the management and the end of the season for the players, but that’s not the case for Kerins O’Rahillys.
After suffering an agonising one-point defeat to South Kerry at the penultimate stage of the premier competition last weekend all concerned must pick themselves and get ready for a relegation playoff against Kilcummin on Sunday week. That play-off will be played before the South Kerry versus Dr Crokes county final in Tralee, but appearing on the county final programme in this way isn’t what joint-manager Morgan Nix had in mind for October 22.
“Our ‘prize’ for losing today and after doing so well in the championship is a relegation battle in two weeks time so we’ll take a few days off and then try to get ourselves right for that,” a dejected Nix said on Saturday. “It’s going to be a huge job in the next two weeks. Hopefully the experienced lads will puill us through. In general there were a lot positive things this year. A lot of young fellas came into the panel.
“We came in (to Saturday’s semi-final) with high hopes but a few injuries early on didn’t help us. Tommy’s (Walsh) hamstring, John Ferguson’s hamstring, so our attack was changed around fairly early on. We spilled a lot of ball early in the game, we turned over a lot of ball, which you can’t afford to do at this level. We stayed plucking away, and we stayed ahead for a lot of the game even though we weren’t playing very well. At half time we were hoping to turn things around but it just didn’t happen, we ran out of legs maybe toward the end.”
South Kerry manager William Harmon was in a somewhat different mood in the Fitzgerald Stadium tunnel after the game, delighted to see his team back in the final and looking to win the title they last held in 2015.
“O’Rahillys had beaten us in round one so we knew what they were going to bring to the table. We just wanted to stay in the game and stay in the game and we knew then that fellas coming in off the bench would add a bit of pace and run at a team when they’re tiring, and I think that came to the fore,” Harmon ( pictured) said. “It was great to win by a point but I think there’s room for an awful lot of improvement. The wides especially, I think we clocked up an awful lot of them. But, look, we’re there, we’re in a final, semi-finals are there to be won and hopefully we improve for the final.
“The way you could describe that (game) is a battle. Both teams wants to get into the final and they’re going to give it absolutely everything. You could see that in the first half. We’d be very disappointed that we conceded 1-3 in the first half. We actually had the majority of the play, it’s just that they were punishing us when they went up the field. For the second half we knew we had to change our game slightly and go to a more running game against the wind, which we did, and it paid dividends in the end. We just kept at it.
“When it comes to this stage of the championship you need your big players to step up and Bryan (Sheehan) always steps up. His commitment to South Kerry and his club and Kerry in general is absolutely phenomenal, but there are unsung heroes there too. John Curran dispossessed guys once or twice, Rob Wharton, Graham O’Sullivan...I don’t want to be naming lads. Plenty of lads stepped up the mark, and then you’ve Bryan and Brendan O’Sullivan and even Mark Griffin powering forward there at the end. It just adds to the whole thing really.
“You don’t take off fellas because they are playing bad. You take off fellas because you have to read the game and say ‘right, the kick in will not work here, we have to run the ball from deep’ and we had the pace to do that. That was only a change of tactic.
“We bring a bit of intensity to our game and Dingle, Rathmore and now O’Rahillys, we feel we’ve been really tested in each of those game. Those battles can only be good for you, but we’re okay with that. We know that if we’re in a game with ten minutes to go that we have the battlers on the field to push us on.
“You need you panel. If you’re going to win a county championship you need twenty, twenty-one players at least, and there are one or two guys who didn’t come on today. You need that impact off the bench. You need guys to come on and do something different.”