Cracking County Final ends in a draw

October 28th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

It was always going to be a close fought encounter and it certainly turned out that way and in the run up to the game I have rarely experienced such conflicting views as to who was going to take the famous Bishop Moynihan Cup. And what a cracking game we were privileged to see as both sides battled it out like heavyweight boxers right to the very end and what a thrilling conclusion we had. It was great stuff for us the neutrals but for the die hard supporters of both sides it must have been near heart attack stuff.  This was one of the best county finals we have seen in recent years, no quarter asked are given, the lead changing hands numerous times, twelve men raised the scoring flags which in itself must be some kind of a record for county finals. And of course this proved the fact if proof positive was needed that we were witnessing all that is pure and honest and great in Kerry championship football. It was in many ways redemption for county championship football as we had seen some pretty poor fare in recent years.

The crowds were streaming toward Austin Stack Park long before the throw in and the minor county final in itself proved a great draw with a host of Kerry minor All Ireland winners on display for both Dr Crokes and Dingle. The stand was full and locked down at 1-30 pm and the terraces were soon filled, an estimated 7,000 in attendances. A draw in my opinion was a fair result and both sides will feel that they might have won the game. Gavin o Grady one of my favorite club footballers will be tormented as he reflex's on those two second half missed close in frees. The Glenbeigh/Glencar man was faultless from the left as he slotted over four frees but from the right the swirling wind seemed to draw the ball just wide of the post on those two occasions. Gavin's early goal which was set up by the excellent Garry Sayers, a long high center, o Grady fielded beautiful and skipping around defenders and goalkeeper had the umpire bending for the green flag. Superb movement, skill and poise, a class act.

The strong driving wind and misty murky swirling rain favored the team attacking the so called Horans end; however both sides played much better when playing into the teeth of the elements. Austin Stacks scored 1-8 against the wind, and just five points with it. Mid Kerry scored 1-5 in each half proving that the way present day football is played keeping possession of the ball is the name of the game. Mid field dominance was mainly reliant on winning breaking ball, so vital, for both sides at various stages. Stacks in that first half won this battle and early in the second half Mid Kerry began to win this area. Darren o Sullivan Garry Sayers, Donnacha Walsh and when introduced Kerry minor Liam Carey added hugely to James Sheehan cause, young Carey will start the next day I imagine. 

As expected Kieran Donaghy was the central figure for the Tralee men and his contribution to the cause played a huge part in keeping their championship ambitions alive. The big problem Stephen Stack has with Star is, where he is the most beneficial to the team, and this is a very slender balancing act as we saw last Sunday.  Unlike Boyle Roche's bird he can't be in two places at the same time? He started mid field for both throw ins and won both with superb catches, back in full forward following the start, called outfield against the wind, and then back in to score that spectacular goal around the 20th minute.

A beautiful long high diagonal ball from the boot of Shane Carroll was fielded in the now spectacular fashion by Donaghy, every time he does this he brings a murmur of anticipation from the crowd, he turned appeared to be pulled back, no whistle and as the defenders stood up he finished to the net. Shortly after this another piece of superb high fielding in the square from behind his man, danger for Mid Kerry, but the referee whistled signaling a push, harsh in my view.  Then with the strong wind at their back in those pulsating closing minutes he was again brought out to the middle of the field and conducted his side to the draw. If he had been left inside with the wind he would surly have won possession in the danger area. A dilemma at the best of times but weather conditions can also play a huge part in those decisions.

As always Donnacha Walsh was to the fore in everything Mid Kerry initiated and with Darren o Sullivan in that second half as they clawed back the 1-9 to 1-5 lead their experienced stood out. Indeed Daniel Bohane on the other side played a massive part for Stacks, experience here again in the terrible conditions was vital and one of his points in the first half would have done justice to Maurice Fitzgerald. Donnacha to his credit was the very first to admit that his game changing goal was as they say a fluke, he went for the point, goalkeeper Darragh o Brien was just off his line, the wind I believe interfered with the flight of the ball, it dipped and in a flash was nestling in the back of the net.  Darragh will never ever be caught for a goal again like this. The most difficult situation for a goalkeeper to deal with is when you are back peddling, advancing is easy, and retreating as we saw last Sunday can be fatal.

Well done to both sides for a memorable game in the year that in it as Kerry completed the double. So now who is going to win? Impossible to say with any great confidence. Stacks will analyze why they surrendered their lead playing with the elements at their back, should their great warrior William Kirby start are be held in reserve until later in the game? They are still unbeaten in league and championship in the county this year.  Mid Kerry boss James Sheehan will know much more about his team now, every game for a divisional side is a massive learning process. He will now know his best starting fifteen for definite after this epic battle and how each individual responded. The answer I feel will lie in the Stacks mind set, can they raise themselves to even greater effort next Sunday, and they certainly had the winning of the game last week. How will the club side respond? Mid Kerry will definitely grow hugely from their last outing and will be most peoples favorites now but I am giving a very hesitant vote to the unbeaten Austin Stacks. Another great battle in store.

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