KERINS O'RAHILLY: 1-09
ÉIRE ÓG ENNIS: 1:08
DAVID MORAN was sent off but Kerins O’Rahilly’s survived a feisty semi- final to advance to their first Munster club SFC decider in 13 years.
The dismissal of the Kerry midfielder left his side a man down for most of their clash with Éire Óg Ennis at Austin Stack Park.
But the Strand Road club — who lost the 2009 final to the Banner’s Kilmurry-Ibrickane — remain in contention to claim a first provincial title.
On a day when the error count for both teams was high, the Clare champions would rue so many missed chances.
O’Rahilly’s boss William Harmon said: “To be down a man and win the game by a point, I’ll take that any day.
“Semi-finals are never really beautiful to watch. It’s all about getting over the line. We’re just delighted to come through with a one-point win because Éire Óg are a good side.”
O’Rahilly’s made a dream start, building a four-point lead within three minutes.
Kingdom ace Jack Savage pointed them ahead after just 11 seconds. He then turned provider by sending in a high ball that was punched to the net by Tommy Walsh.
Urged on by a sizeable support in Tralee, Éire Óg were sparked into life by a couple of Gavin Cooney points.
After Mark McInerney claimed a mark to add another, Savage converted a free to give O’Rahilly’s a 1-2 to 0-3 lead midway through the half.
The game’s major talking point arrived in the 22nd minute. Having already been booked for bringing down Ikem Ugwueru, Moran was involved in another clash with the Éire Óg forward.
After being fouled by Ugwueru, Moran shoved him to the ground as he tried to take the subsequent free.
A second yellow card was produced by Seán Lonergan and the three-time All-Ireland winner was sent packing. And the flashpoint turned up the heat on a contest that was in danger of going flat.
The Kerry side’s frustration was evident when Savage was almost immediately booked for a challenge on Ugwueru.
But they regained their composure thanks to back-to-back scores from veteran forward Walsh.
O’Rahilly’s led by 1-4 to 0-4 at the interval after Cooney ended a 19-minute barren spell for Éire Óg with a stoppage-time free.
Savage and Gavin O’Brien extended the gap early in the second half, leaving Éire Óg in need of inspiration.
It came courtesy of Einne O’Connor. He surged up the pitch, exchanged passes with Oran Cahill and unleashed a bullet that almost took the net off Shane Foley’s goal.
He nearly repeated the trick later on, only for his attempt at a second major to come back off the post.
Cooney and Philip Talty added to the tally for the Ennis men, who were kept at bay by scores from O’Brien, Savage and Cormac Coffey.
A Cooney free was quickly followed by a Ciarán Russell point which left just one between the teams with three minutes left.
But again Éire Óg were undone by their own wastefulness, which was epitomised when Savage bizarrely sent a free back towards his own goal.
The ball was intercepted and Cooney teed up Talty, but his weak effort was blocked by Darragh McElligott.
Éire Óg then lost McInerney to a second yellow card for a hefty tackle on Savage.
Niall McMahon — who had already been substituted — was also red-carded for entering the pitch and getting involved in a fracas.
With a Munster final against Newcastle West to look forward to on December 10, O’Rahilly’s boss Harmon added: “To win a tough battle like that is huge for the group.
"It gives them a bit of belief that no matter what’s thrown at us, we can deal with it. My compliments to the players for that.”