Beau­fort fol­low­ing in neigh­bours foot­steps

The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - SPORT - BY JOHN TAR­RANT

EMO­TION be­decked in yel­low and blue colours en­cour­aged Beau­fort to ul­ti­mately col­lect Mun­ster sil­ver­ware for the first time in the club his­tory. After four medi­ocre and one sided games en­route to this de­cider, the two best teams sur­faced to of­fer the match of the 2018 provin­cial cam­paign, brim­ming with en­ergy, ef­fort and en­thu­si­asm, the tus­sle was dec­o­rated with ex­cel­lent skill and sports­man­ship that en­thralled a vo­cal at­ten­dance.

What started in bright sun­shine, this mem­o­rable Mun­ster Fi­nal fin­ished with the Mal­low lights shin­ing down on a win­ter’s evening, the out­come re­fused to be set­tled by the stan­dard hour’s ac­tion.

On do­ing so, Beau­fort were forced to en­dure ner­vous spells against out­siders Drom­tar­iffe as a do or die af­fair con­test de­vel­oped. At the end of an epic con­test of sway­ing for­tunes, just a kick of a ball sep­a­rated the teams where on the bal­ance of play, Beau­fort just about de­served sil­ver­ware to be­come the 13th club from the King­dom to col­lect provin­cial Ju­nior A hon­ours.

Pre­vi­ously Mid Kerry neigh­bours Laune Rangers, Mil­town/ Castle­maine, Glen­beigh/Glen­car and Keel had done so in var­i­ous grades, the ma­jor­ity fol­low­ing up to add All Ire­land hon­ours with Beau­fort car­ry­ing the weight of bar­ren years. Its been a long time com­ing but de­liv­er­ance sur­faced in 2018, ini­tially an­swer­ing the search­ing ques­tions asked of them dur­ing a de­mand­ing Kerry cam­paign.

No mas­sive amounts of sweat per­spired to reach a Mun­ster Fi­nal prior to Beau­fort sur­viv­ing the sever­est of ex­am­i­na­tions from a pumped up and highly or­gan­ised Drom­tar­iffe that be­lied their 9/2 out­siders rank­ing. After a shaky start, the de­fen­sive toil of the Cork cham­pi­ons curbed a highly rated Beau­fort out­fit with­out some key play­ers from their county win­ning run.

Hav­ing en­dured a tor­rid open­ing, Drom­tar­iffe re­ally set­tled into the pro­ceed­ings, the ex­tent of their dom­i­nance was un­der­lined on Beau­fort adding just a lone point in the clos­ing 22 min­utes to the open­ing half. And at the op­po­site end, Beau­fort had leaked a pair of goals to find them­selves six points adrift.

Half time al­lowed Beau­fort ab­sorb those blows, slowly set­tling into a pat­tern, their de­fi­ance man­i­fested in key po­si­tions and the col­lec­tive im­pact be­came in­creas­ingly ev­i­dent as the game wore on. Still Drom­tar­iffe re­mained grit­ted and de­ter­mined not to fold, their per­sis­tence meant the out­come up for grabs and for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son, stale­mate and ex­tra time was re­quired.

That omen sounded good for Drom­tar­iffe, fel­low Duhal­low neigh­bours Knock­na­gree had fol­lowed a sim­i­lar sce­nario last sea­son, both Knock­na­gree and Drom­tar­iffe had lost District fi­nals to Bo­her­bue yet the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of both sides pros­pered to win county fi­nals. To the same day from 2017, Knock­na­gree struck late to take Dro­mid Pearses to ex­tra time only to hold their nerve and se­cure out­right vic­tory to end a 10 year reign of King­dom dom­i­nance.

The ap­pre­hen­sion amongst sup­port­ers was pal­pa­ble, Beau­fort re­grouped, their re­sponse im­pres­sive, charg­ing at Drom­tar­iffe time and again, in­deed with a lit­tle more pre­ci­sion, Beau­fort might well had outscored the op­po­si­tion by more than 0-2 to nil.

Tired bod­ies and cramp­ing meant no side was go­ing to pull away and amidst all the fa­tigue, Beau­fort were con­tent to hold their pre­cious lead to the fin­ish­ing line.

In­deed Beau­fort en­joyed a fa­mil­iar route to their lat­est piece of sil­ver­ware, for the third time in the cam­paign, they were forced to en­dure and all im­por­tantly sur­vived ex­tra time. At times they felt the pres­sure en­route to land­ing

their first ma­jor sil­ver­ware in Kerry since 2000.

From tough phys­i­cal bat­tles, Beau­fort had the bit be­tween their teeth that formed a sin­gle point win over Churchill in the semi fi­nal. And from a fiercely con­tested de­cider, Beau­fort edged a high scor­ing epic with Na Gaeil thanks to an­other vic­tory by the min­i­mum of mar­gins, both games re­quired ex­tra time to re­solve.

That long awaited Kerry ti­tle dated back to early last May, it re­quired Divi­sion 1 league ac­tion over the sum­mer to re­tain Beau­fort sharp­ness where they fin­ished a cred­itable 10th place be­hind strong se­nior and in­ter­me­di­ate ac­tion. For their part, Drom­tar­iffe are some­where around ranked 60th in Cork, five league di­vi­sions in­cor­po­rat­ing se­nior and in­ter­me­di­ate teams op­er­ate above a county ju­nior league with few and far be­tween games.

It’s fair to say that Drom­tar­iffe may well be far bet­ter than some of the sides op­er­at­ing in higher grades on Lee­side. What­ever about the de­bate of re­duc­ing the num­ber of se­nior ranked clubs in Kerry, its the op­po­site in Cork, near im­pos­si­ble to be rel­e­gated and with two in­ter­me­di­ate grades in op­er­a­tion, it sees Ju­nior A Foot­ball in ef­fect listed as the fourth grade.

Hav­ing en­dured a stroll and facile wins along the Mun­ster jour­ney, the de­cider gave Beau­fort food for thought ahead of fur­ther tests. Of course with­out Ro­nan Mur­phy and Liam Carey from cen­tral po­si­tions put a con­certed strain on re­sources yet a num­ber of sub­sti­tu­tions added a key di­men­sion to Beau­fort’s game in the provin­cial show­piece.

Beau­fort can look ahead with re­newed op­ti­mism, if they can build on the style and men­tal­ity de­liv­ered against Churchill, Na Gaeil and Drom­tar­iffe from ex­tra time cliffhang­ers, they are well ca­pa­ble of mak­ing a jour­ney to Croke Park.

Pho­tos by Eric Barry

RIGHT: Padraig Doona, Nathan Breen, Fer­gal Hal­lis­sey, Kevin O’Brien and Ciaran Kennedy cel­e­brat­ing after last week­end’s vic­tory in thge AIB Mun­ster Club Ju­nior Foot­ball Fi­nal in Mal­low.FAR LEFT: Beau­fort man­ager Eanna O’Mal­ley with the CupTOP: Beau­fort play­ers and sup­port­ers cel­e­brate the club’s Mun­ster JFC ti­tle win

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