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O'Rahillys book Kerry final place with superb comeback, sending Crokes to relegation play-off

Kerins O’Rahilly overturned a five-point half time deficit to win by a point after 68 incredible minutes of football.

Kerins O'Rahilly won a thriller at Austin Stack Park (file photo).
Kerins O'Rahilly won a thriller at Austin Stack Park (file photo).
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kerins O’Rahillys 0-15

Dr Crokes 0-14

Paul Brennan reports from Austin Stack Park, Tralee

IT WAS NEVER going to live up to the drama of the first semi-final, was it?

Well, we didn’t get the extra-time and penalty shoot-out but we got a rollicking finale to this contest that saw Kerins O’Rahilly mount an astonishing comeback against Dr Crokes to overturn a five-point half time deficit to inch their way to a one-point win after 68 incredible minutes of football.

Austin Stacks — who needed the ninth penalty of a tense shoot-out to shake off St Brendan’s at Austin Stack Park last night — will meet fierce Tralee rivals O’Rahillys in a first county SFC final meeting of the two since 1936.

A slow-burning first half, after which Dr Crokes led 0-8 to 0-3, all pointed to the Killarney kingpins getting their business done in typical fashion in the second half, but O’Rahillys – Kerry champions last in 2002 – had other ideas.

Surprisingly, given the depth of talented forwards on the field, it had taken until the 14th minute before any umpire was troubled to raise a flag – Tony Brosnan getting Dr Crokes off the mark with signature looped run and left-footed score.

Within 45 seconds Brian Looney had doubled Crokes’ lead, an urgency now to the Killarney men as if they had to make up for lost time. In the 16th minute Brosnan spliced the posts again, sending Crokes to the water break 0-3 to no score ahead.

O’Rahillys hadn’t played bad in that first quarter. On the contrary, they had created plenty, but their execution on the ball was poor, illustrated in particular by Tommy Walsh who won a few great possessions but sliced a couple of shots towards the scoreboard in the corner, while another couple of O’Rahillys efforts were safely gathered by goalkeeper Shane Murphy.

The second quarter saw Crokes find their rhythm and grove: points from Kieran O’Leary, Brosnan, Shaw (2), Looney put them 0-8 to 0-3 ahead at the break.

It seemed like it would be enough for the kings of game management to close out the game. O’Rahillys, of course, had other ideas. The lure of playing the old enemy, Stacks, in a county final proved to great to pass up on.

They had clawed their way back to trail 0-7 to 0-10 when referee Brendan Griffin sent off their corner back Donagh Buckley on the instruction of his linesman. One really feared for the Tralee men at that stage.

Within three minutes the books were balanced, sort of, when Gavin O’Shea was black-carded for Dr Crokes. O’Rahillys would have sold their grandmother for numerical parity at that stage, but two minutes later they had the extra man after David Naughton was sent off for Crokes, with the game descending into petty off-the-ball incidents all over.

The chaos seemed to suit Strand Road. Crokes goalkeeper Shane Murphy nailed a great free kick just before the second water break to put his team 0-11 to 0-8 ahead, but then he got nailed himself by a reckless tackle from Con Barrett that saw him have to leave the action.

By now O’Rahillys were smelling blood in every sense. Jack Savage kicked a huge point before Micheal Burns fisted his effort off the post and side at the other end.

Savage almost buried the game’s first goal but for a goal-line intervention from Brian Looney but Savage converted the 45 and then straight from a poor restart, Conor Hayes iced the equaliser to make it 0-11 apiece.

David Moran – who looks like he will get the Kerry captaincy off the back of a county final appearance – made a huge interception on Johnny Buckley going through on goal, before Savage nailed a 45-metre free to put O’Rahillys into the lead for the first time.

On the mark Savage doubled O’Rahillys’ lead but there were still eight minutes to be played. Tony Brosnan’s free brought Crokes back to within one, but Hayes replied for the Tralee club, and Crokes could never quite get there.

Jordan Kiely’s 65th-minute score made it 0-14 to 0-13 but Barry John Keane scored one of the points of the game to keep O’Rahillys two ahead.

Crokes finished with 13 men on the field – Mark O’Shea black carded late on – and David Shaw had a very late and very difficult free to force extra-time but couldn’t convert from near the sideline.

Dr Crokes must now play Killarney rivals Legion in a relegation play-off, the loser of which will play intermediate championship football next year.

They’d never be so cruel as to put that one on as a curtain-raiser to the county final, would they?

Hardly. No one is going to gate crash this most Tralee of county finals, not least a couple of interlopers from Killarney.

Scorers for Kerins O’Rahillys: J Savage 0-8 (6f, 1 ‘45’), C Hayes 0-3, BJ Keane 0-3, T Walsh 0-1

Scorers for Dr Crokes: T Brosnan 0-6 (3f), B Looney 0-2, D Shaw 0-2 (1f), S Murphy 0-1 (f), M Burns 0-1, K O’Leary 0-1, J Kiely 0-1

Kerins O’Rahillys

1. Shane Foley

2. Donagh Buckley
3. Ross O’Callaghan
4. Cormac Coffey

5. Darragh McElligott
6. Shane Brosnan
7. Cian Sayers

8. David Moran
17. Con Barrett

10. Gavin O’Brien
11. Jack Savage
12. Gearoid Savage

13. Barry John Keane
14. Tommy Walsh
15. Conor Hayes

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Substitutes:

9. Tom Hoare for C Sayers (6, inj)

21. Patrick Begley for G Savage (45)

Dr Crokes

1. Shane Murphy

2. John Payne
3. Michael Moloney
4. Fionn Fitzgerald

5. Mark Cooper
6. Gavin White
27. David Naughton

8. Mark O’Shea
9. Johnny Buckley

10. Gavin O’Shea
11. Micheal Burns
12. Brian Looney

13. Tony Brosnan
14. David Shaw
15. Kieran O’Leary

Substitutes:

26. Evan Looney for K O’Leary (48)
16. Alan Kelly for S Murphy (52, temp)
18. Jordan Kiely for M Burns (59)
20. Daithi Casey for B Looney (60)
23. Tom Doyle for G O’Shea (66)

Referee: Brendan Griffin (Clounmacon)

BTL 5

About the author:

Paul Brennan

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