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Second half surge seals final spot for impressive Mid Kerry

KEANE’S COUNTY MFC SEMI-FINAL

Mid Kerry 2-8

St Kierans 0-11

When push came to shove Mid Kerry had it. That dogged ability to hang on in there. That ability to pick their moments, and, when the game opened up in their direction, that ability to drive home their advantage.

For much of the game this was a fairly nip and tuck affair, with St Kierans having the better of the first half exchanges. For all that MId Kerry just wouldn’t let them get away from them. Wouldn’t let them have anything easy. There were a dogged determination to the way Cathal Moriarty’s men approached this game that told you they were going to hang on in here come what may.

They were boosted, of course, by an early slightly opportunist strike by man of the match Shane Evans just a couple of minutes into the game. Dara Hogan picked him out with a clever pass and the Keel man made no mistake with the finish. 

That three point advantage – 1-0 to 0-0 – proved invaluable during a first half when they were under pressure for the most part. Indeed, Evans’ early strike aside Mid Kerry struggled for traction on the scoreboard in the first half.

A Conor Spillane free just before the water break was the green and red’s sole point of the second half and given that St Kierans, not unreasonably, must have been left scratching their heads a little as to how they weren’t able to carry a lead with them at the half-time whistle.

Still it’s not like the Kierans, for all their dominance in the middle third with Cathal Brosnan and Jack O’Sullivan really shining for them, were pulling up trees up front themselves, not with that Mid Kerry rear-guard proving so dogged.

Ballymac man Niall Collins did, however, stand out right away for the Kierans as one to watch. He popped the Saints first score three minutes in an assisted their second a couple of minutes later for Cathal McElligott.

St Kierans still trailed at the water break – 1-1 to 0-3 – but soon enough began to make their present felt on the scoreboard with a run of four unanswered.

Finally it seemed as though they were making their advantage in the play tell on the scoreboard with points form Maurice O’Connell, Jack O’Sullivan and a pair of sweet Collins’ strikes. 

With time ticking into injury they were in front 0-7 to 1-1 and must have been feeling good about themselves. Alas that feeling didn’t last long when a Joshua Coffey effort for a goal – and a brilliant run and strike it was – found its way to the back of Conor Wilkinson’s net thanks to an unfortunate enough deflection. 2-1 to 0-7 at the break.

All to play for and, yet, for the majority of the second half only one side really showed up. Mid Kerry carrying the momentum of Coffey’s goal with them to out-score St Kierans 0-5 to 0-0 in the third quarter with four of those scores coming from the increasingly influential Conor Spillane.

At 2-5 to 0-7 at the second water break it was looking fairly bleak for the Kierans, whose last score came on 29 minutes. It got even bleaker following a point from Fionán Grififn for Mid Kerry pushed their advantage to six.

You know what they say, though, it’s always darkest before dawn. That nadir seemed to spark something in Richard Cotter’s St Kierans and they shot the next three scores to put themselves back in contention, 2-6 to 0-10.

Were Mid Kerry wilting? Were they getting nervous? Not a bit. On 58 minutes they fashioned a goal-scoring chance for Hugh O’Malley, blocked by Wilkinson, and pointed shortly after through Darragh O’Connor.

Maurice O’Connell fired one more score for Kierans following a pass by Collins (who shortly after went off injured), but what they really needed was a goal and, honestly, it never much looked like coming. Instead Mid Kerry weathered the storm with one last Darragh O’Connor point rounding out the scoring for a famous win. 

They’re dogged these boys, they’re determined, and no matter what happens they’ll never, ever give up. A good sign of any team, just as it was a good sign of Kierans that they rallied as they did.

It’s no consolation now, but they easily could’ve disappeared after that third quarter. That shows character. Real character. 

MID KERRY: Darragh Crosby (Cromane), Shane O’Connor (Milltown/Castlemaine), Liam Evans (Keel), Tadgh Evans (Keel), Marc O’Sullivan (Beaufort), Jack Teahan (Milltown/Castlemaine), Joshua Coffey (1-0) (Beaufort), Dara Hogan (0-1) (Milltown/Castlemaine), Fionán Griffin (0-1) (Keel), Conor Spillane (0-4, 3f) (Milltown/Castlemaine), Shane Evans (1-0) (Keel), Eden Murphy (Keel), Darragh O’Connor (0-2) (Beaufort), Jason O’Connor (Cromane), Brendan Casey (Milltown/Castlemaine) Subs: Liam O’Neill (Cromane) for S O’Connor (inj), 21, Hugh O’Malley (Beaufort) for E Murphy (inj), 42, Marc Murphy (Keel) for D Hogan, 54,

ST KIERANS: Conor Wilkinson (Castleisland Desmonds), Andy Rodgers (Ballymacelligott), Raymond O’Neill (Currow), Eoin Creedon (Ballymacelligott), Seán Rice (Ballymacelligott), Jack McElligott (Knocknagoshel), Eoin O’Connor (Cordal), Cathan Brosnan (Currow), Jack O’Sullivan (0-1) (Brosna), Niall Collins (0-3) (Ballymacelligott), Ryan Dennehy (0-3, 1f, 1 ‘45) (Cordal), Dónal Daly (Ballymacelligott), Maurice O’Connell (Ballymacelligott), Cathal McElligott (0-1) (Knocknagoshel), John O’Connor (Currow) Subs: Thomas Conway (Castleisland Desmonds) for D Daly, half-time, Rúairí Burke (0-1) (Castleisland Desmonds) for C Brosnan (inj), 42, Pat O’Mahony (Scartalgin) for E Creedon, 47, Shane Browne (Knocknagoshel) for J O’Connor, 53, Patrick Fitzgerald (Scartaglin) for S Rice, 54, Luke O’Connell (Ballymacelligott) for N Collins (inj), 61

REFEREE: Michael M Moriarty (Dingle)

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