O’Rahillys ‘prize’ for de­feat is a rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle with Kil­cum­min

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - BY PAUL BREN­NAN

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.”

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