Rockies win on road
South Kerry 1-15 Austin Stacks 4-7
A GAME of fluctuating fortunes, full of fervour and one, which was significant for the amount of goal chances created and converted by Austin Stacks and those which South Kerry failed to capitalise upon.
Certainly, a Championship encounter full of all the right ingredients in Cahersiveen last Sunday, and one that provided a pretty pulsating finale with the Rockies just about hanging on to win by the bare minimum.
It was a pretty nervy ending for them, and in the overall analysis South Kerry will probably reflect on the opportunities for goals which they had in the second half, which if converted, might well have brought about a different result.
However, on the other side of the coin Stacks with the advantage of a stiffish breeze had sufficient chances in the first half to have had a more comfortable half time lead. They were in front by three points at that particular juncture and it looked as if it might not be enough, but two early second half goals ultimately provided them with a sufficient cushion to see off a vibrant second half challenge from South Kerry.
Both sides missed chances at opposite ends in the initial stages and, indeed, Shane O’Callaghan could well have had a goal inside the opening two minutes before Pa McCarthy, who impressed throughout opened the visitors account in the third minute.
Applying some intense pressure at both ends of the pitch, Stacks doubled their advantage after seven minutes courtesy of a Darragh O’Brien pointed free, but South Kerry having kicked three early wides, struck for a goal in the eight minute when Aidan Walsh made progress along the end line, and created the chance for the inrushing Matthew O’Sullivan who provided a palmed finish from close range.
Mark Griffin with a fine individual effort doubled South Kerry’s advantage after twelve minutes and with the pace of Chris Farley and Niall O’Shea causing problems for the Stacks defence South Kerry were the side in the ascendancy at this particular juncture.
Graham O’Sullivan had a goal chance albeit coming in from a narrow angle in the thirteenth minute, and two minutes later the Rockies received a timely tonic when Kieran Donaghy having initially effected a turnover in midfield, imposed his considerable presence close to goal and created a goal chance for Shane O’Callaghan which he duly converted to give his side a marginal lead 1-2 1-1 at the end of the opening quarter.
However two points from play, one of which could have been a goal, from the influential Bryan Sheehan briefly put South Kerry back in front 1-3 1-2, but for the remainder of the half Stacks were in almost total control, kicking five unanswered points, some of which were superb efforts from distance.
Indeed Kieran Donaghy’s fisted effort having been set up by Shane O’Callaghan could well have been a goal and having kicked a few wides from favourable positions their half time lead 1-7 to 1-4 provided them with a real challenge in the second half if they were to prevail.
However, they struck for a crucial goal within two minutes of the restart when Ferdia O’Brien fed in Shane O’Callaghan, and a quick change of direction from a standing position allowed him to finish neatly for his own and his side’s second goal.
The response from South Kerry was immediate with points from Bryan Sheehan and Niall O’Shea, but just when it looked as if Stack’s scoring advantage was going to be reeled in they struck for a crucial third goal.
Once again Ferdia O’Brien was the provider finding Kieran Donaghy completely unmarked on the edge of the small square and in such situations the end result is always going to be somewhat inevitable.
Goal number three provided Stacks with a seven point lead with as many minutes having elapsed in the second half and with Greg Horan offering a lot in terms of his admirable input in all quarters of the pitch, Stacks were still two goals to the good 3-7 1-7 with forty minutes having elapsed.
Throwing caution to the wind, South Kerry poured forward in waves of attacks, with Bryan Sheehan, Mark Griffin, and Graham O’Sullivan central figures for them and when Bryan Sheehan converted a magnificent effort from way out on the wing in the fiftieth minute just two points separated the teams 3-7 to 1-11.
Another point from Niall O’Shea left just the bare minimum between the teams and with Stacks unable to cope with South Kerry’s surging runs through the heart of their defence, along with taking the wrong options in scoring situations at the other end, the odds favoured South Kerry entering the home stretch.
However at the end of some measured build up play, David Mannix opened the door for fullback Conor Jordan, who popped up on the edge of the opposition square and rifled a low left footed shot to the corner of the net to put his side back in the driving seat with five minutes of normal time remaining.
South Kerry continued to pursue the matter with a lot of intent and with Stacks guilty of some needless over elaboration in defence South Kerry seized on all of their defensive inadequacies and almost manufactured a last gasp victory or at least a share of the spoils which would have necessitated extra time.
Stacks survived, just about, which owed much to the leadership of Kieran Donaghy, the clinical finishing of Shane O’Callaghan, and the industry and expertise of Greg Horan.
A big win for them, given that South Kerry are one of the favourites to claim the coveted Championship crown. They are still in the race with enough quality to make a big impact on the latter stages of the competition, but they face another big test on this coming weekend with Rathmore providing the opposition on this particular occasion.
SOUTH KERRY: Padraig O’Sullivan (Skellig Rangers), Michael O’Leary (Renard), Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses) (0-2), Paul O’Sullivan (Valentia), Brian Sugrue (Renard), Mark Griffin (St Michaels Foilmore) (0-1), Padraig O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses), Bryan Sheehan (St Mary’s) (0-7f), Denis Daly (St Mary’s) Conor O’Shea (St Mary’s) (0-1), Chris Farley (Dromid Pearses) (0-2; 1f), Aidan Walsh (St Mary’s) Diarmuid Keating (Skellig Rangers), Matthew O’Sullivan (St Michaels Filemore) (1-0), Niall O’Shea (Dromid Pearses) (0-2). Subs: Robert Wharton (Renard) for M O’Leary), Padraig King (St Michaels Filemore) (A Walsh), Fionan Clifford (Waterville) (Padraig O’Sullivan), Shane O’Connor (Dromid Pearses) (M O’Sullivan), Jack Daly (St Mary’s) (D Keating).
AUSTIN STACKS: Robbie Murphy, Dylan Casey, Conor Jordan (1-0), Ronan Shanahan, Pa Mc Carthy (0-2), Jack O’Shea, Ciaran O’Reilly, Michael O’Donnell (0-1), Joseph O’Connor, Greg Horan (0-1), Darragh O’Brien (02, 1f), Wayne Guthrie, Ferdia O’Brien, Kieran Donaghy (1-1), Shane O’Callaghan (2-0). Subs: Jack Morgan for J O’Shea, David Mannix for W Guthrie, Shane Carroll for F O’Brien, Fiachna Mangan for D O’Brien, Shane Guthrie for M O’Donnell.
REFEREE: James O’Sullivan (Firies)