Credit Union Co League Div 1
This Round 9 game saw the opposing sides enter the game on 10 points each and needing to snaffle both points on offer in order to keep pace with table toppers, Austin Stacks who were one point clear of second-placed Rathmore, with both O’Rahillys and Spa another point further back. So, victory was essential and defeat for either team would almost certainly end their quest for a league final berth. O’Rahillys were playing into a stiff wind in the opening half but started well, with Ryan Carroll curling a 35-metre free over the bar for the game’s opening score in the second minute. The rain then started teeming down and driving into the faces of the Tralee men and Spa were quick to capitalise when they intercepted a Strand Road kickout and levelled matters from 35 metres. Two minutes later, the Killarney side got their noses in front after working the ball down the left flank before converting from 25 metres, but a driving run from Con Barrett forced the concession of a free and Carroll stepped up again to split the posts from 30 metres to leave matters all square. Spa went ahead again on the 11-minute mark when O’Rahillys failed to capitalise after a good spell of possession and the more direct Spa side worked the ball downfield and slotted their third point. At that stage it also took some great defending by Carroll to prevent a goal for the home side after they turned over possession from a short kickout. This seemed to shake the Blues into action and they swept downfield and Tom Hoare was fouled at the expense of a penalty when he had the goal at his mercy. The responsibility was again shouldered by Carroll, but he coolly slid the ball low into the left corner – sending the keeper the wrong way and O’Rahillys were 1-2 to 0-3 ahead. The next six minutes saw Spa reduce the margin to a single point as they again took advantage of O’Rahillys failure to make possession pay to clip over a point and although Conor Hayes turned inside from a Carroll pass to kick a fine score after good counter-attacking play from Karl Mullins and Ross O’Callaghan, Spa’s direct approach paid dividends once more when a long delivery into the square was parried clear but fastened on by the home side and pointed. Strand Road were fine tuning their attacking play though and in the 22nd minute a great passing move involving Carroll, Hayes and Mullins was finished off by Hoare when he fisted home at the far post. Mike “Stam” O’Donoghue replied with a point from out near the side line for Spa, but Hayes was then fouled after another pass from Carroll and Hoare converted the free. The Blues followed up with a super passing move involving Sean Walsh, Hayes and Hoare which sent O’Callaghan bearing down on goal but the Spa keeper pulled off a fine save from point blank range. Not to be outdone, O’Rahilly’s keeper Shane Foley matched that save with one of his own from a shot from 12 metres. The Tralee side still had the greater share of the ball but in the final minute of the half, Spa once again completed a turnover and worked the ball downfield and the resulting point reduced O’Rahillys’ half-time lead to three points, Spa 0-7 O’Rahillys 2-4.
The first ten minutes of the second half were crucial in deciding the outcome of this game. O’Rahillys now had the wind at their backs, but from another delivery into the square, Spa were unlucky to see a fisted effort just run wide of Shane Foley’s right-hand post. Strand Road took full advantage however and Kerry star, Gavin O’Brien made the first of several telling impacts when he played a give and go with Cormac Coffey and stormed through the middle of Spa’s defence before offloading to Hoare who drilled his shot into the bottom corner for his second goal of the day. On the five-minute mark, Strand Road kept possession well, moving the ball from right to left and stretching Spa’s defence until Coffey was freed up to kick a point from 25 metres and this was followed by a point from a tight angle from Hoare and suddenly O’Rahillys were 3-6 to 0-7 ahead. On 12 minutes, a fisted point for Spa reduced the margin to seven points, but the Killarney side seemed intent on trying to engineer the goal that would bring them back into contention and O’Rahillys seemed satisfied to bring bodies back into defence to negate that threat – but at the expense of their attacking game and the fluidity of their general play. By the 23rd minute Spa had added another two points, but then Strand Road finally responded when they constructed a brilliant move, spearheaded by O’Brien, which isolated Mullins in front of goals, but Spa’s keeper dived to his right to prevent what seemed like a certain goal. Two minutes later, Spa almost made the most of their reprieve and it took a close-range save form Foley at the expense of a “45” to maintain O’Rahillys’ five-point lead. Then, in the last minute of normal time, a great steal of possession by Gearóid Dillane saw him offload to O’Brien who stormed through the centre of Spa’s defence and picked out Gearóid Savage who slammed the ball into the net in what looked like the seal on the victory. Spa kept plugging away though and pointed a free before adding a goal in the third minute of injury time to reduce the margin to four points once again. However, it was Gavin O’Brien who made the final telling play of the game with another searing run that knifed through Spa’s rearguard and his pinpoint pass again found Savage who palmed into the net for the game’s final score.
Kerins O’Rahillys: S Foley; D Murphy, R O’Callaghan, S Collins; R Carroll (1-2, 1pen, 2f), K Mullins, D McElligott; C Barrett, S Brosnan; C Coffey (0-1) G O’Brien, S Walsh; P Griffin, T Hoare (2-2, 2f), C Hayes (0-1). Subs: G Savage (2-0), G Kissane, R O’Connor, G Dillane, J Keane, A Roche, B Scannell, D O’Sullivan, D O’Brien.