Kerins O’Rahillys (Kerry) 1-9 Éire Óg (Clare) 1-8
Kerins O’Rahillys overcame the first half sending-off of David Moran to edge past Clare champions Éire Óg and book their place in the Munster Club SFC Final for the first time since 2009.
Moran’s dismissal, for two yellow cards in quick succession for fairly innocuous looking tangles with Iken Ugwueru, significantly changed the dynamic of this provincial semi-final at a wet and windy Austin Stack Park, one that Éire Óg will look back on with a lot of regret that they couldn’t capitalise on their numerical advantage.
Great industry and collective effort by the Clare champions was let down by poor shot execution, none more so than a late Philip Talty chance that would have levelled the score and possibly sent the game to extra-time.
Instead, O’Rahillys clung on against Éire Óg – themselves reduced to 14 men after Mark McInerney was sent off in the 58th minute for a second booking – and will go to the Munster Final in a fortnight quietly confident – with Moran reinstated – that they can win a first provincial title for the club.
O’Rahillys cause was helped by their brilliant start, racing into a four-point lead after three minutes, and giving them a platform to keep Éire Óg at arm’s length, even if it was a very short arm by the end of a spiky contest.
Jack Savage pointed O’Rahillys into the lead after just 12 seconds, a lead that was further boosted by Tommy Walsh’s goal in the third minute.
Unperturbed by that poor start, Éire Óg settled into their work thereafter and points from Gavin Cooney (2) and Mark McInerney had them to within a point after 12 minutes.
Savage scored his second point in a scrappy game played in testing weather conditions, and then Tommy Walsh, who was a big target and threat at full forward for the home side, landed a point from play and converted a free as O’Rahillys took a 1-4 to 0-4 lead to the half-time interval.
A man down, O’Rahillys needed a strong start to the second half and they got it with two early points from Gavin O’Brien and Jack Savage, but the Clare champions hit back with a great goal from wing back Einne O’Connor after being set up by Cooney.
O’Rahillys responded in the best way, points from Jack Savage and Cormac Coffey – both back from their work base in Dubai for the game – putting the Kerry side 1-8 to 1-4 ahead after 42 minutes.
Gavin O’Brien was also flown back from his New York base, and between himself and Savage and Coffey they chipped in with six points.
Moran’s absence around midfield was apparent for O’Rahillys, who moved Walsh to the middle of the field to try to win some badly needed primary possession and stifle Éire Óg from getting on the front foot. It worked up to a point, and notwithstanding some poor shooting by the visitors, the Ennis men clawed their way back with scores from Philip Talty, Ciaran Russell and two Cooney frees to make it 1-9 to 1-8.
McInerney sending off wasn’t ideal for Éire Óg, but it was Talty’s unforgivable miss in the 58th minute, when he spurned a very scorable chance from just 15 metres in front of goal, that will haunt them for the longest time.
For their part O’Rahillys will be relieved to have survived under the circumstances, but they will face Limerick champions Newcastle West with quiet confidence in the provincial final, when there will be a new name on the Munster roll of honour no matter which team wins.
Kerins O’Rahillys: Shane Foley; Darragh McElligott, Ross O’Callaghan, Cormac Coffey 0-1; Con Barrett, Karl Mullins, Padraig Neenan; David Moran, Tom Hoare; Gearoid Savage, Jack Savage 0-4, Gavin O’Brien 0-2; Barry John Keane, Tommy Walsh 1-2 (0-1m), Conor Hayes. Subs: Ben Hanafin for G Savage (39); Ryan Carroll for Barrett (49); Diarmuid O’Sullivan for Hoare (58).
Éire Óg: Shane Daniels; Manus Doherty, Aaron Fitzgerald, Ronan Lanigan; Éinne O’Connor 1-0; Aidan McGrath, Ciaran Russell 0-1, Darren O’Neill, David McNamara; Oran Cahill, Ikem Ugwueru, Niall McMahon, Jarlath Collins, Gavin Cooney 0-5 (3f), Mark McInerney 0-1 (1m). Subs: David Reidy for McMahon (37); Philip Talty 0-01 for Cahill (40); Conor O’Halloran for Lanigan (48); Dean D’Auria for Collins (62).
Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary).