Austin Stacks retain Senior Club title as Kenmare come up short in second successive final

County Senior Club Football Championship Final

Austin Stacks 1-16

Kenmare Shamrocks 1-11

Austin Stacks are County Senior Club champions for the third year in a row after back to back county final wins over Kenmare Shamrocks in a competitive and entertaining final in which Conor Jordan’s early goal gave Stacks the platform on which the Rockies built the title win.

Sean O’Shea’s fine goal 10 minutes from the end kept Kenmare in the contest and kept Stacks honest to the very end, but the champions saw it out with late scores from substitutes Sean Quilter and Adam Curran, with corner back Jack O’Shea capping a fine performance with his second point.

Stacks manager Wayne Quillinan said he and his players had given no thought to playing champions East Kerry in the first round of the County SFC in two weeks, nor will they until this success is celebrated tonight, but it will do the Black and Amber no harm at all as they put their minds to what will be an altogether different and tougher test against David Clifford et al.

That’s for then, but this Senior Club Championship win for now is another boost for a team on the rise, with Quillinan reminding us that Stacks were a Division 2 county league team just four seasons ago.

The manager also spoke of the collective of the squad, that every player has his place in the enterprise, and that evenness was apparent in this final, with scores coming from every line of the team, and perhaps four or five players in genuine contention for the man of the match award.

In the end midfielder Joe O’Connor climbed the steps for that honour, but it might as easily have been Conor Jordan – 1-2 from centre back – or Jack O’Shea or Fiachna Mangan or Michael O’Donnell, while the winners mined three important scores from the substitutes.

Kenmare will rue another missed opportunity for senior silverware, and though Sean O’Shea was top scorer with a goal and five points, the Kerry star was made to work extremely hard for every score. He converted four frees, but Stacks discipline in the tackle was commendable, and their paltry concession of scoreable frees for O’Shea had as much to do with this victory as anything else.

There wasn’t much to separate the sides in the first half, but for Conor Jordan’s fourth minute goal, a score started and finished by the Stacks centre back, with a simple assist from Kieran Donaghy, that set the champions on their way after David Hallissey had pointed early for Kenmare.

Stacks’ excellent midfielder Joe O’Connor and Kenmare’s equally excellent corner back Dara Crowley exchanged scores before goalkeeper Wayne Guthrie converted a 45-metre free to push the Tralee club 1-2 to 0-2 ahead. 

At the water break Stacks were 1-3 to 0-4 to the good as Sean O’Shea converted his first free for Kenmare and midfielder Griffin Wharton added another.

The second quarter was an equally even affair, both teams kicking three points as Stacks led 1-6 to 0-7 at half time, though Stacks biggest concern was the loss of midfielder Brendan O’Sullivan to a hamstring injury after 21 minutes.

O’Connor landed two scores straight after the re-start – first from a super solo run and then from a fine mark – as Kenmare lost Kevin O’Sullivan to a black card, and when Michael O’Donnell converted a free to make it 1-9 to 0-7 there was a sense of the game slipping away from Kenmare.

O’Shea moved between full forward and further afield in an effort to pull some strings, but his Kerry team mate Stephen O’Brien was having an off day, losing possession too easily and never really leading the attack as a player of his quality should.

By the second water break Stacks were still four to the good, 1-10 to 0-9, and in the 51st minute they might have put the contest to bed when Kieran Donaghy teed up Jack O’Shea for a one v one with Kieran Fitzgibbon but the Stack man blazed his shot over the bar with a goal for the taking.

That miss seemed a little costly when Sean O’Shea picked up a breaking ball a minute later at the other end and fired in a Kenmare goal to make it 1-12 to 1-9. Quilter nailed two points as Sean O’Shea hit back with two of his own, but Kenmare could never close the gap beyond three scores, and Stacks finished strong with O’Shea and Curran added the insurance scores for the Rockies.

AUSTIN STACKS: Wayne Gurthrie 0-1f, Colin Griffin, Dylan Casey, Jack O’Shea 0-2, Paul O’Sullivan, Conor Jordan 1-1, Ronan Shanahan, Joseph O’Connor 0-3 (1m), Brendan O’Sullivan, Greg Horan, Shane O’Callaghan, Fiachna Mangan 0-1, Michael O’Gara 0-1, Kieran Donaghy, Michael O’Donnell 0-4 (4f).

Subs: Armin Heinrich for B O’Sullivan (inj, 21), Darragh O’Brien for G Horan (49), Sean Quilter 0-2 for M O’Donnell (49), Adam Curran 0-1 for P O’Sullivan (53), Barry Shanahan for F Mangan (60).

KENMARE SHAMROCKS: Kieran Fitzgibbon, Dara Crowley 0-2, James McCarthy, Cian O’Sullivan, Dan McCarthy, Dara O’Shea, Shane O’Sullivan, Griffin Wharton 0-1, David Hallissey 0-2, Tom Murnane, Sean O’Shea 1-5 (0-4f), Micheal McCarthy, Stephen O’Brien 0-1, Kevin O’Sullivan, Paul O’Connor.

Subs: Mark Crowley for C O’Sullivan (53), Tommy Cronin for T Murnane (55)

Referee: Jonathan Griffin (Glenbeigh)

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