It took a display of guts, heart and endurance to ensure we retained our senior status when defeating Kilcummin 2-12 to 1-10 in the curtain raiser to the county senior final played in Austin Stack Park today.
The scheduling of the game in taking place prior to the county final was in itself painful just two weeks after we lost the semi final by a point to South Kerry – it was a test of our mental state as much as of our intestinal fortitude and must have been a source of much worry for management in the past two weeks. The loss of key players like Tommy Walsh, John Ferguson and Karl Mullins placed an additional burden on the squad but in a tense and oft times nervy game we finally came good in the second half when outscoring Kilcummin by 1-08 to 0-06.
The game’s opening score fell to Kilcummin when former county keeper Brendan Kealy came up from his defence to land a fine score and they quickly added another from the boot of Noel Duggan to leave them two ahead before we had our first score from a Jack Savage free on the 8th minute. We added another from Barry John shortly afterwards but Kilcummin seemed to be that bit sharper in the tackle and led 0-04 to 0-02 after 20 minutes we after we had kicked 3 wides from play and frees. The first big moment of the game arrived in the 23rd minute when following a sweeping movement up field involving Padraig Griffin and Tommy Begley, Barry John was hauled down in the square as he was about to shoot – the referee correctly awarded the penalty but kept his cards in his pocket when it looked a black card offence – Jack placed his shot low to his left but Brendan Kealy was equal to the effort and pulled off a fine save – Jack made amends shortly after when firing over from a free but as the half time whistle approached we were caught napping in defence and Kevin McCarthy stole in to find the corner of Gary Kissane’s net . This was a real body blow but we recovered just as quickly and when the ball found its way to Barry John 13 metres from goal he hammered his shot to the left corner giving Kealy no chance – half time saw the sided tied @ 1-04 apiece.
We resumed with the breeze to our backs but again Kilcummin were first to break away and notched two quick points; however we were now winning the battle around the middle with David Moran outstanding, and we raised 4 white flags without reply to lead 1-08 to 1-06 after 38 minutes – Barry John with 3 ( one a real beauty from the stand side) and Jack Savage from a free. Kilcummin reduced the deficit to the minimum again but Jack pushed us two clear and further scores from Barry John and Rory Molloy ( in as a sub) had us 1-11 to 1-07 in front with 13 minutes remaining. Again Kilcummin responded and we led by two, 1-12 to 1-10 with 7 minutes remaining. Then a sideline ball from Jack landed in the square and Gavin O’Brien out jumped everybody to flick the ball to the net thus ending the game as a contest. This was to be the final score despite 5 additional minutes of play and we saw out the game in convincing fashion which will see us once again play in the senior county championship in 2018.
Well done to the team, management and all our supporters – we have made sound progress this year, the younger members of the squad have gained valuable experience in big games and seeing South Kerry just fail by two points to Dr Crokes shows where we are in the pecking order – this year’s experience can be the corner stone for 2018 and beyond and the future looks very bright.