Austin Stacks overwhelm Mid Kerry in County Final Replay

November 4th, 2014
by Weeshie Fogarty

The old adage "hunger is the greatest sauce of all" was never more evident than what we witnessed in Fitzgerald Stadium last Sunday when famed Austin Stacks literally swept Mid Kerry away to captured their 12th Kerry County Championship title. This was a powerful display by Stephen Stacks men as they cast twenty years of hurt and bitter disappointment to one side claiming a stunning victory in this re-play as they now go on to represent Kerry in the Munster and All Ireland series and will bestow the honor of Kerry captaincy on their truly outstanding and charismatic leader Kieran Donaghy.

And yes their hunger to win far surpassed that of Mid Kerry and James Sheehan the loser's exemplary manager will forever wonder just why his men lacked that vital element so necessary in all big championship battles.  Hunger is that indefinable and obscure element so vital in sports persons make up and after just fifteen minutes last Sunday it was as clear as night follows day that Stacks from one to fifteen were firing on all cylinders as they began their drive to victory.

Their had been a lot of mutterings during the week in relation to playing the game in Fitzgeralds Stadium as opposed to the more compact and tighter Austin Stack Park, some fans and rightly so I must agree, claiming that the atmosphere at the Tralee venue far surpasses that of its Killarney neighbor. However it is my opinion that the wide open spaces of Fitzgerald suited the winner's right down to the ground, if you pardon the pun. The club side excelled from the throw in and their speedy classy and exciting forwards Shane Carroll, Shane o Callaghan, Dara o Brien, and Mikey Collins were constantly running into the open spaces as the men outside plied them with lovely chest high ball and the Mid Kerry defense were literally torn asunder in those vital early stages. Daniel Behan's part in this latest win for his club must not be overlooked, in both games he led by example and dare I ask. Would Stacks have won without him?

Wayne Guthrie who had a great game and Greg Horan won loads of ball both in the air and in particular on the break around the mid field area and within seven minutes the winners had posted 1-3 on the board and were well and truly on their way to the title. The Stacks work rate was simply unbelievable and they chased and harried their opponents to such an extent they curtailed their scoring to just one point from play in that first half. Liam Carey their minor star was the scorer and the Beaufort youngster had an excellent outing. Gavan o Grady the danger man on the Mid Kerry side was well marked on this occasion and it was he who had his side's only goal. This came as a consolation late in the hour, far too late to influence the result.

The Stacks full back line and goalkeeper Darragh o Brien played a huge part in the win and while o Brien would have felt partly responsible last week for Mid Kerrys two goals he full redeemed him self last Sunday. Two excellent saves from Martin Burk just before half time were vital, a goal then might have propelled the losers to greater effort and then late in the game the keeper got his left foot to a goal bound shot to affect another great save. When Mid Kerry attacked they found a resolute, unyielding Stacks defense working like Trojans and at time twelve men behind the ball, now so common in today's game with the result that scoring chances were at the bare minimum

 At the other end the winners attack had lots of room as their opponents were not crowing back cutting out the space and with Kieran Donaghy inside on his own with full back Fergal Griffin scoring opportunities especially in the first half came fast and furious. Last week here I compared Kieran Donaghy as to be unlike Boyle Roche's bird, unable to be in two places at the same time as he roamed in and out on a constant basis. This time Stephen Stack decided to put all his eggs in the one basket and Star was left on the verge of the square for most of the game. It was a master stroke and the towering Kerry idol really set The Rockies on their way as he scored the first goal, although it must be said the losers defense gave him far too much time to set himself and blast low to the net. Then the ball he thrives on, high diagonal cross, slight little nudge on his opponent, (a la Seamus Darby) brilliant fielding, turn for goal and hauled down by goalkeeper Michael Moriarty. Black card, penalty and a sending off for the unfortunate Moriarty and Pat McCarthy coolly slotted the resultant penalty low to the keeper's right. Game, set and match as the short whistle sounded, 2-7 to 0-3. No way back for Mid Kerry despite the best efforts of Donnchada Walsh, Darren o Sullivan, Pa Kilkenny, Garry Sayers and Liam Carey.

And so the winners now set off on a Munster and All Ireland voyage attempting to win the club title last achieved by them in 1976/77 when a star studded side captained by John o Keeffe and with present selector Paul Lucy also in their ranks beat Ballerin (Derry) in the final, 1-13 to 2-7. While last Sunday's game was disappointing for the neutrals in the large attendance and never lived up to the standards set in superb drawn game Stacks won't be too worried about this. Indeed if one asked their wonderful and colorful supporters who marched into the Stadium to the sounds of drums and bugles would they would take this county final win in Killarney or lose in Tralee the answer would undoubtedly be, Killarney any day of the week. And well done to referee Padraig o Sullivan who handled the game with plenty common sense and used the advantage to great effect. Kieran Donaghy will make an inspirational Kerry captain. Star as captain, Colm Cooper due back from injury and Tommy Walsh home from Australia, Eamon Fitzmaurice will winter well.

Fogra: I am off to New York next Monday for the launch of a superb DVD on the history of the GAA in that city. Another outstanding production from Christy Riordan c/r videos Caherciveen. First launch at Glucksman Ireland House NYU on November 13th 7 pm and then the following Sunday 16th in a great Kerry/Gaa pub owned by Mickey Moynihan The Aqueduct Bar 4277 Katonah Ave.

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