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St Finbarr's celebrate Munster glory for first time since 1986 as they defeat Austin Stacks

Semple Stadium hosted today’s game.

St Finbarr’s (Cork) 2-9

Austin Stacks (Kerry) 1-10

FOR THE FIRST time in over three decades, famed Cork club St Finbarr’s have reached the summit of Munster football.

ian-maguire-and-steven-sherlock-celebrate-with-the-trophy-after-the-game Ian Maguire and Steven Sherlock celebrate with the trophy after the game. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

They needed to survive a nervy and tension-filled finale to secure that triumph in Thurles today, with Enda Dennehy and Sean Quilter exchanging late goals in a frenetic finish, before Steven Sherlock converted an injury-time free to clinch victory for the Cork club.

St Finbarr’s never trailed in this encouter but having been six points in the ascendancy at half-time, they needed to withstand a ferocious assault from Austin Stacks in the second half, as the Kerry kingpins twice cut the winning margin to a single point.

But with substitutes Michael Shields and Dennehy making valuable impacts, allied to an outstanding St Finbarr’s defensive effort, typified by the performance of Sam Ryan in dealing with aerial threat of Kieran Donaghy, the Cork champions were entering the winners’ enclosure at the final whistle.

joseph-oconnor-with-ian-maguire-and-sam-ryan Austin Stacks player Joseph O'Connor in action against St Finbarr's duo Ian Maguire and Sam Ryan.

Austin Stacks departed with regrets, chasing this game from the moment they shipped a goal with just 18 seconds on the clock. If the pre-match focus was understandably on Kieran Donaghy’s imposing presence in the Austin Stacks full-forward line, St Finbarr’s utilised that ploy successfully themselves from throw-in.

Ian Maguire boomed a free high in the direction of Brian Hayes, the Cork U20 dual talent last season, and while he didn’t catch possession cleanly, he caused enough chaos in the Stacks rearguard before flicking the ball through to the unaccompanied Cillian Myers-Murray, who kept his cool and finished to the net.

St Finbarr’s were flying high, a position they built on to go ahead 1-7 to 0-4 at the interval with Myers-Murray, Hayes and Steven Sherlock all notching quality points from play in first-half injury time.

Yet the newly-crowned provincial champions endured a 20-minute wait for a score in the second half, the impressive Hayes fisting over a point that left them 1-8 to 0-9 clear. All the momentum was behind a powerful Austin Stacks team with Greg Horan excelling at midfield, he nailed two splendid kicks from distance as they trailed 1-7 to 0-9 at the last water break.

Just before that stoppage Sean Quilter pulled a free wide on the right when he had a chance to level and then in the 55th minute it was Quilter sent through by substitute Michael O’Donnell, only for goalkeeper John Kerins to pull off a significant and impressive save.

Quilter finished with 1-4 to his credit, catching the eye at times in the Stacks attack, but the St Finbarr’s defensive unit generally acquitted themselves well in shutting down the Tralee side, Billy Hennessy and Colm Scully prominent in that aspect of play.

st-finbarrs-fans-celebrate-cillian-myers-murrays-goal St Finbarr's fans celebrate Cillian Myers Murray's goal. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

With St Finbarr’s hanging on to their advantage, they needed some inspiration up front. It was suppled by their substitutes in the 59th minute, Michael Shields made the key break by cutting through from the right and when he offloaded across, Enda Dennehy had the composure to side-step Wayne Guthrie before finishing left-footed to the net.

enda-dennehy-scores-his-sides-second-goal Enda Dennehy's crucial second-half goal. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Five points up, St Finbarr’s seemed assured of success but injury-time created some anxiety for them. First Quilter smashed over a close-range free and then he drilled a shot to the net after Donaghy managed to divert a delivery his way in a packed goalmouth. The gap was down to one but just as Stacks scented the chance to drawing level, St Finbarr’s summoned up a decisive play.

Captain Ian Maguire fetched a kickout that sparked a move which culminated in Shields being fouled. Sherlock nailed his kick with the aid of the upright and from there Paul O’Keeffe’s team held on to secure an All-Ireland semi-final berth in a fortnight against the Ulster champions.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: Steven Sherlock 0-4 (0-3f), Cillian Myers-Murray 1-1, Brian Hayes 0-3, Enda Dennehy 1-0, Colin Lyons 0-1.

Scorers for Austin Stacks: Sean Quilter 1-4 (0-2f, 0-1 mark), Greg Horan 0-2, Fiachna Managan, Dylan Casey, Darragh O’Brien (0-1f), Shane O’Callaghan 0-1 each.

St Finbarr’s

1. John Kerins

6. Billy Hennessy, 4. Colm Scully, 7. Alan O’Connor

5. Colin Lyons, 3. Jamie Burns, 2. Colm Scully

8. Ian Maguire (captain), 9. Eoin Comyns

10. Denis O’Brien, 30. Brian Hayes, 22. Eoin McGreevey

14. Steven Sherlock, 15. Conor McCrickard, 13. Cillian Myers-Murray

Subs

23. Colm Barrett for O’Brien (42)

12. Enda Dennehy for Myers-Murray (42)

11. Michael Shields for McCrickard (50)

27. Luke Hannigan for McGreevy (55)

21. Adam Lyne for Scully (blood) 57)

32. Scully for Lyne (60)

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Austin Stacks

1. Wayne Guthrie

3. Dylan Casey (captain), 5. Paul O’Sullivan, 2. Colin Griffin

4. Jack O’Shea, 6. Conor Jordan, 7. Ronan Shanahan, 

8. Joseph O’Connor, 9. Greg Horan

10. Michael O’Gara, 11. Fiachna Mangan, 12. Brendan O’Sullivan

15. Darragh O’Brien, 14. Kieran Donaghy, 13. Sean Quilter

Subs

17. Shane O’Callaghan for Brendan O’Sullivan (inj) (15)

19. Michael O’Donnell for O’Brien (half-time)

18. Barry Shanahan for Paul O’Sullivan (half-time)

20. Armin Heinrich for O’Connor (inj) (50)

21. Adam Curran for Mangan (59)

Referee: Chris Maguire (Clare)

BTL 5

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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