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'I actually missed the one in the last training session' - Donaghy the penalty hero in Kerry semi-final

Austin Stacks are through to their first Kerry senior final since 2014.

Kieran Donaghy (file photo).
Kieran Donaghy (file photo).
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

ANOTHER WEEKEND AND another county senior football semi-final settled amidst the drama and tension of a penalty shootout.

Just like the Cork equivalent last Sunday afternoon, the Kerry semi-final encounter last night in Tralee required penalties to determine a winner.

And it fell to Kieran Donaghy, the most celebrated name in the Austin Stacks side, to despatch the kick that confirmed their passage to the final as they at last prevailed against the dogged challenge of divisional outfit St Brendan’s.

“We did (practice them),” Donaghy told RTÉ Sport after the game in Austin Stack Park.

“Tommy Naughton and the boys put us through our paces. I actually missed the one in the last training session, which I got a good bit of slagging from the boys.

“But I scored against Rathmore in the league final in the last one a few years ago. So I’m two from two in penalty shootouts. I wouldn’t be backing myself overly but thankfully it went in.

“That’s the easy one to take. If they’d scored and I had to score to keep us alive, that’s a much higher pressure kick. Michael O’Gara, Michael O’Donnell, Sean Quilter, in fairness to the boys, they put their penalties away. Adam Curran, young kid, 19 years of age, stepping up in a county semi-final to do that. Tremendous character by the boys and they gave me the hero kick at the end, and that was the easiest one to put away.”

The result propels Austin Stacks into the Kerry showpiece for the first time since 2014, when they were crowned champions.

As the veteran forward, Donaghy had wondered whether he would get the chance to feature in another final.

“I didn’t think I’d be back here this year. Wayne (Quillinan) twisted my arm, gave me the Covid (angle), that we didn’t do too much last year, you got away with a lot. I was above with Armagh and Kieran McGeeney this year and he said I didn’t do a lot of the season, so he thinks I’m fresh.

“I don’t know about a 38-year-old being fresh but just delighted to get into it. Look, it’s a massive chance. It’ll be a massive final, we’re either going to be playing our local rivals Kerins O’Rahilly’s or Dr Crokes, who have been the kingpins here the last 10 or 15 years, so we’ll be up against it in the final but we’re looking forward to it. Once you’re in there, you always have a 50-50 chance.”

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wayne-quillinan Austin Stacks manager Wayne Quillinan. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The All-Ireland winner admitted Austin Stacks needed some fortuitous breaks at times as St Brendan’s, playing in their third successive semi-final, provided a stern test.

“Look we weren’t at our best, we didn’t play well. Credit has to go to St Brendan’s, they were fantastic from start to finish. We’d to rely on two lucky goals, so we’ve a lot of work to do.

“But semi-finals really are about winning. When you come through a titanic one like this, it can stand you in good stead in the final.”

BTL 5

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Fintan O'Toole

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