In the end it was all about the result, less about the performance. The final score line of 1-13 to 1-11 means we finish 3rd in our group behind winners Dr Crokes and second placed Austin Stacks but more importantly ensures the spectre of relegation from senior ranks now rests between An Ghaeltacht and Kenmare who finished bottom of group 2.
The conditions in Gallarus were more akin to an October encounter which ensured this was one was going to go right down to the wire; we were boosted by the inclusion of Kerry midfielder David Moran which meant for the first time this year, we had a full squad to choose from .Our opponents were not so lucky, being unable to call on Kerry panellists Brian O’Beaglaoich and Eanna O’Conchúir.
The home side won the toss and elected to play with the elements in the opening half with wind and driving rain making good football difficult; however, it was us who were the quickest to settle and following Barry John’s opening point within 40 seconds, full forward Diarmuid O’Sullivan latched onto a ball a minute later to drive a low shot to the net past baideroir Tomás Mac an tSaoir – it was a wonderful start and though Dara O’Sé replied shortly with An Ghaeltacht’s opening point from a free, Jack Savage with two pointed frees had us ahead 1-03 to 0-01 after the first quarter; it was noticeable that David Moran was having a big influence around the middle at this juncture but in the next 15 mins An Ghaeltacht began getting more bodies into the middle third, thus making it impossible to win primary possession and when the ball went to ground they seemed to have more bodies available to pick up the breaks. Slowly, they worked their way into the game with Padraig O’Se prominent and were two adrift, 1-04 to 0-05 when a long delivery caught our defence napping and Seán M O’Conchúir gathered to fire past Gary Kissane – a further two points saw An Ghaeltacht lead at half time 1-07 to 1-04 – this was scarcely imaginable given our good start but An Ghaeltacht’s passion and hunger had them deservedly in front.
The resumption saw us on the front foot from the outset and David Moran kicked a great score to reduce the deficit to two points; a sideline ball was then transferred quickly to Tommy Walsh by the quick thinking Jack Savage but his powerful drive was diverted out for an unconverted “45 ” which led to a degree of frustration creeping in; two points from the impressive David Moran from distance plus a Barry John effort had us level with 15 minutes remaining. An Ghaeltacht edged ahead again but Jack had us back on level terms again from a free – it was all to play for as we approached the final 10 minutes but again we were out of luck when Con Barrett broke through and his floated ball to the far post was just too high for Tommy to get something from. Another period of stalemate followed and the score stood at 1-11 apiece as we entered the final minutes – a Barry John run along the end line seemed to nudge us ahead but the referee called him back for over carrying when it looked like he was being fouled as he broke through. The resultant kick out saw us exert strong pressure on the opposition’s defence resulting in a turn over for over holding with the resultant free being converted by Jack to give us the lead – another period of pressure on the kick out again resulted in a free which Jack duly converted – this was to end the scoring and we emerged victorious by two points.
Overall,this was a great team effort with each and every player playing his part – the difference in the end was the performance of David Moran, available for his first outing in the club championship and one wonders what might have been had we been able to call on him for our earlier encounters.
Team: Gary Kissane, Danny O’Sullivan, Ross O’Callaghan, Shane Brosnan, Ryan Carroll, Karl Mullins, Cormac Coffey, Con Barrett, David Moran (0-03), Gavin O’Brien, Tommy Walsh, Jack Savage ( 0-07), Barry John Keane ( 0-03), Diarmuid O’Sullivan ( 1-0), John Ferguson.
Subs: Cian Sayers, Tom Hoare, Gearoid Savage, Padraig Griffin, John C O’Connor.