Heartbreak in Fitzgerald Stadium as we failed to come to terms with a defensive structure which eventually saw South Kerry advance on a final score line of 0-12 to 1-08.South Kerry set up to nullify and negate our scoring threat with wing forwards Conor O’Shea and Graham O’Sullivan operating in their defence thus clogging up all available space – the structure worked the oracle as we failed to penetrate their rearguard often enough to build a winning score. We played into the strong breeze in the first half and after two wides, Bryan Sheehan fisted a point on the 6th minute to open the scoring; this was followed by our best move of the game when John Ferguson found Karl Mullins with a lovely pass and his quick delivery was fielded by Tommy on the edge of square who fed the inrushing Padraig Griffin who was fouled – referee Edmund Walsh pointed to the penalty spot and Jack Savage duly found the corner of the net – this score kept us in front for the remainder of the half with further points from Barry John from a free and John Ferguson with a fine effort from play. Our defence was coping with the best SK could offer with our full back line of Danny O’Sullivan, Ross O’Callaghan and Tommy Begley outstanding. We maintained our advantage until the 23rd minute when in a purple patch SK levelled matters with scores from Bryan Sheehan ( 2) and Ronan Hussey from a free. Just on the stroke of half time, Tommy clearly hampered by an injury, pointed following a pass from Gearoid Savage to leave us in the ascendancy at half time, 1-03 to 0-05. Whilst we were happy with this scoreline the loss of John Ferguson and Gavin O’Brien to injury was a major worry.
The resumption offered real hope when Jack Savage pointed from a free and when Tommy Begley added another with his right foot we were 3 ahead, 1-06 to 0-06. South Kerry reacted now by withdrawing Matthew O’Sullivan and Ronan Hussey with Niall O’Shea and Ian Galvin entering the fray; however SK, though enjoying plenty of possession failed to capitalise on the score board shooting a number of wides with result that the sides were still level with 23 minutes elapsed. SK forged ahead on the 25th minute only for Jack Savage to equalise with a fine effort and it was all square with 2 minutes of normal time remaining – a pointed free from Daniel Daly allied to a fisted effort from Mark Griffin pushed the divisional side ahead but a massive effort from Barry John from a free had the lead cut to the minimum with 90 seconds on the clock; another foul in the middle of the pitch offered us a chance to save the game but Barry John’s effort fell short and when SK cleared their lines, referee called a halt to proceedings to leave us trailing by one point and out of the championship.
This loss is a huge disappointment following our recent good run but great credit is due to the team and management who only just failed to reach our first final since 2008.On the day, our lack of strength in depth when losing John Ferguson, Gavin O’Brien and Tommy Walsh was just too much to handle and we now face off against Kilcummin in two weeks time to save our senior status for 2018.