District Board SFC titles for O’Rahillys and Glenbeigh/Glencar
THE quality of goalkeeper Shane Foley’s performance on Saturday night would have been a talking point after any game.
But on a night like this – one lacking the kind of star names and intensity you’d associate with championship football and almost ruined by a series of dreadful downpours – the Strand Road keeper’s display seemed brighter again.
O’Rahillys probably deserved their third Tralee town title on-thespin, but the better team doesn’t always win and had it not been for Foley and four terrific saves, the Roddy O’Donnell Cup would be doing rounds of The Rock this week.
The opening fifteen minutes rainfall might have filled a large swimming pool and it certainly left its mark on a game, which saw both sides short of about five regular starters each.
Though it dried up somewhat from time to time thereafter, the rain never stayed away for long, and the result was a showcase of poor passing, shooting, tackling and handling.
Tommy Walsh set the tone when he dropped a handy, early free into Stacks’ goalkeeper Robbie Murphy, and when a player of his quality was making basic errors, the small crowd knew it was in for a drab affair.
Both teams did try to play exciting football, even if they failed more often than not. Stacks – low on intensity, particularly in the first half – were inclined to leave their defence short of numbers and O’Rahillys did make some hay in spite of the sun not shining.
Playing towards the John Mitch- els’ end, John Keane put Strand Road in front in the third minute after receiving a David Moran hand-off and a Walsh free made it 0-2 to 0-0 on seven minutes as he made up for his earlier miss.
Foley’s kick-outs were not perfect, but they weren’t bad either, context considered, and with his teammates David Moran and Con Barrett doing as well as could be expected in the conditions and Karl Mullins and the energetic Cormac Coffey keeping the transition from defence to attack ticking over, O’Rahillys were finding some kind of grip.
A good ball from David Moran into Tommy Walsh gave the towering forward a platform and he duly turned his marker, advanced on goal and drove a rising shot to make it 1-2 to no score. Looking back, it was the game-winning play.
Another Walsh free landed on 17 minutes, between Stacks’ only two scores of the half. Darragh O’Brien’s point on 19 minutes, a nice long-range effort from play, was a bright moment in an otherwise bleak half for The Rockies.
Stacks’ first point, courtesy of Shane O’Callaghan, perhaps, ought to have been followed by a goal, but Foley did well to save from Mikey Collins in a one-v-one situation. It was far from the only missed opportunity for The Rockies, who kicked eight wides in the opening period.
Stacks’ first half was worsened by Cormac Coffey, who made it 1-4 to 0-2 in impressive style. As Stacks’ defenders and O’Rahillys’ forwards contested for the ball, it fell in the direction of the on-running Coffey, who volleyed over to cap a relatively good half for his team.
After the break, some of O’Rahillys’ best first-half performers, namely Moran, Walsh and Coffey, created plenty of chances but continuously fired their shots short or wide.
Stacks created more openings, but their shooting and handling at crucial moments were also short of quality. By the 46th minute, they were gaining in strength, but had only reduced their arrears to three points (0-4 to 1-4). But as O’Rahillys’ attack became more wayward and the game more foul tempered, Stacks were the ones revelling in the increased intensity. With five minutes to play, two fine points by Dylan Casey and O’Callaghan had the minimum between the teams at 1-4 to 0-6.
O’Rahillys finally got off the mark for the second half on 55 minutes when sub Donagh O’Brien pointed after receiving a pass from Tom Hoare, but it took Foley’s goalkeeping to keep Stacks at bay.
He made two great stops in three minutes from Collins again and Shane O’Callgahan, and while the first of these was followed up by a Darragh O’Brien point, O’Rahillys’ Coffey went down and pointed at the other end after the second save, making it 1-6 to 0-7.
After Tom Hoare put a goal between the teams, there was still time for a few more Stacks’ chances and another terrific Foley save as he tipped away a rasping strike at the right corner by Conor Jordan. A late Barry Shanahan point in the third minute of injury time made to 1-7 to 0-8 but achieved little else as Strand Road secured a narrow win.
KERINS O’RAHILLYS: Shane Foley, Danny O’Sullivan, Ross O’Callaghan, Jordan Foley, Darragh McElligott, Karl Mullins, Cormac Coffey (0-2), David Moran, Con Barrett, Páidí Griffin, Ryan Carroll, Tom Hoare (0-1), Gearoid Savage, Tommy Walsh (1-2, 0-2f), John Keane (0-1) Subs: Donagh O’Brien for Ryan Carroll (0-1) 46, Gearoid Dillane for John Keane 50, Sean Collins for Padraig Griffin 50, Kieran Mangan for Gearoid Savage 60, Gearoid Hartnett for Jason O’Leary 60.
AUSTIN STACKS: Robbie Murphy, Dylan Casey (0-1), Barry Shanahan (0-1), Ronan Shanahan, Conor Jordan, Jack Morgan, Jack O’Shea, Greg Horan, Joseph O’Connor, Fiachra Mangan, Darragh O’Brien (0-3, 0-1f), Michael O’Brien, Mikey Collins, Shane O’Callaghan (0-3, 0-1f), Pa McCarthy Subs: Shane Walsh for Jack O’Shea HT, Fergal Ryan for Michael O’Gara 48, Donagh McKivergan for Fiachra Mangan 48, David Fitzmaurice for Mikey Collins 57
REFEREE: James O’Sullivan