Kil­cum­min have to dig it out

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - SPORT -

OVER­WHELM­ING favouritism can some­times be the rock on which a team can per­ish and for a strug­gling Kilm­cum­min side there were times dur­ing this pro­vin­cial quar­ter-fi­nal that ba­nana skins could be vi­su­alised all over those rocks on Capt Tubridy Memo­rial Park in Kil­rush.

How­ever, in the end it was a case of all’s well that ends well as Wil­lie Ma­her’s charges fi­nally shook off the lethargy that had dogged much of their first half ef­forts to kick on for vic­tory against the flag­ging sec­ond half chal­lenge of the Clare cham­pi­ons.

Kil­cum­min did this by outscor­ing Kil­rush Sham­rocks by 0-6 to 0-2 in that 30 min­utes as they turned a 0-5 to 0-4 deficit at the in­ter­val into a com­fort­able three-point vic­tory that tees up a semi-fi­nal joust with Water­ford cham­pi­ons Kil­mac­thomas.

They fi­nally found the rhythm ei­ther side of the fourth quar­ter with Gary O’Leary, Matt Keane and Chris O’Leary hit­ting boom­ing points, but were thank­ful that the cause they were chas­ing down the home straight wasn’t al­ready a lost one.

All be­cause it was in the first 30 min­utes that Kil­rush Sham­rocks’ chance of cre­at­ing a shock was thrown away – a half hour in which they spurned two glo­ri­ous goal op­por­tu­ni­ties that could have given them a healthy lead to de­fend in the sec­ond half when turn­ing around to face the wind.

Put sim­ply the Shams failed to find in­spi­ra­tion from the ex­ploits of the in­ter­na­tional showjumper af­ter whom their pitch is named – they couldn’t scale the fence be­tween them and this notable scalp, which would have been a first for the club since they beat the great All-Ire­land win­ning team of Austin Stacks on their home patch in 1979.

The home side weren’t given a hope, but thanks to a barn­storm­ing first half dis­play when they poured for­ward at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity into the town end goal they gave them­selves a great chance of send­ing Kil­cum­min pack­ing.

Alas, that they only led at the break by a point was a very poor re­turn for chances they cre­ated and for the ur­gency of their play against a Kil­cum­min side that was lack­ing in front of the posts.

The scores dried then up for the Shams in the sec­ond half, some­thing that was to be ex­pected against the el­e­ments, but at the same time they should have had a four or five-point cush­ion to but­tress them­selves for the on­slaught.

The first chance of putting day­light be­tween the sides came just six min­utes in when af­ter the open­ing point from a Liam Madi­gan free the Shams’ open­ing goal op­por­tu­nity came for Dar­ragh Bolton – he ran through on goal but af­ter his rasp­ing drive was bril­liantly saved by Bren­dan Kealy his fol­low-up ground shot from close range went ag­o­nis­ingly wide.

Shane McSweeney lev­elled mat­ters in the sev­enth minute, while a Philip Casey free had Kil­cum­min level once more by the end of the first quar­ter as he re­sponded to Madi­gan’s sec­ond free a cou­ple of min­utes ear­lier.

Still, with Matthew Moloney rev­el­ling in his sweep­ing role and with Gearóid O’Brien and Bolton bar­relling for­ward it was the Shams that as­sumed con­trol of the tie for the re­main­ing 15 min­utes.

Points by O’Brien and Madi­gan’s third helped them into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead af­ter 20 min­utes, but the goal that their in­dus­try and ef­fort de­served never came, with Jim Young’s point on 26 min­utes be­ing an op­por­tu­nity lost as he fired over in­stead of un­der the bar.

It might have been a swift re­sponse to a fine Gary O’Leary ef­fort a few min­utes later to give the home side a 0-5 to 0-3 lead, but a goal could re­ally have open­ing things up be­fore the break.

As it was, a free from Noel Dug­gan in the sec­ond minute of in­jury time brought the gap back to the min­i­mum, at which point Kil­cum­min had as­sumed favouritism once more as they turned to play with the el­e­ments in the sec­ond half.

It’s true that wind never won a game, but it cer­tainly helped win this one as Kil­cum­min grad­u­ally turned the screw against their op­po­nents who re­treated into de­fence for most of the sec­ond half.

An­other Liam Madi­gan point on 36 min­utes did put two be­tween them once more, but Kil­cum­min were level by the 39th thanks to Gary O’Leary and Matt Keane, while they never re­ally looked back af­ter tak­ing the lead for the first time when Chris O’Leary split the posts from dis­tance in the 49th minute.

By this stage the Shams were un­der siege — and there was no let-up with two fur­ther Philip Casey frees by the 52nd minute putting three be­tween the sides.

The Shams needed goals, but af­ter slip­ping four be­hind when Noel Dug­gan pointed a free in the 59th minute their only re­turn was Liam Madi­gan’s fifth from a free four min­utes into in­jury time.

By then the game was lost, with both sides also los­ing a man each af­ter Shane McSweeney and Ross Phelan were marched af­ter a flare up two min­utes from time.

The Shams gave what they had, but it wasn’t enough, while Kilm­cum­min knew in vic­tory that this won’t be enough if they’re to go on and bring a 12th Mun­ster in­ter­me­di­ate ti­tle to the King­dom.

KILM­CUM­MIN: Bren­dan Kealy, Sean Bros­nan, Donal Ma­her, Daniel Moyni­han, William Ma­her, Philip Casey (0-3f), Sean O’Leary, Kevin Gorman, Chris O’Leary (01), Gary O’Leary (0-2), Shane McSweeney (0-1), Padraig Na­gle, Ian Devine, John McCarthy, Noel Dug­gan (0-2f) Subs: Matt Keane (0-1) for Gorman (12) B/C, Daniel O’Leary for Bros­nan (20), Kieran Mur­phy for McCarthy (45), Damien O’Leary for De­vane (60), James Na­gle for Ma­her (63) KIL­RUSH Sham­rocks: Stephen Ryan, Michael Shan­non, Ross Cul­li­nan, Padraig Browne, Con O’Brien, Niall Gil­bride, Cian Mur­ray, Dar­ragh Bolton, Jim Young (0-1), Dar­ragh Kelly, Ruaidhri O’Con­nor, Gearóid O’Brien (0-1), Ross Phelan, Matthew Moloney, Liam Madi­gan (0-5f) Subs: Niall Bren­nan for Moloney (51) B/C, Billy Clancy for Kelly (56)

REF­EREE: John Ryan (Cork)

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