Munster Club SFC semi-final: Dingle (Kerry) 0-13 Clonmel Commercials (Tipperary) 0-10
The Kerry county championship has been gripped in an existential crisis for the last while, an intensely local matter which is none of our business. Kindly, though, Dingle have simplified everything. As winners of the club championship they carried the Kerry flag in the provincial championship for the first time and swept into the Munster final with a terrific second half performance.
Over years club teams have emerged from Cork having lost to divisional teams and shown no appetite for the provincial championship but there was no trace of that apathy from Dingle. They stayed in Limerick on Saturday night to soften the three-and-a-half hour journey to Thurles, and two of their Kerry players, Paul Geaney and Barry Dan O’Sullivan, didn’t travel on the Kerry team holiday to New York a couple of weeks ago to focus on this match. They got their reward.
Behind by a point at half time, Dingle drew level immediately after the break and didn’t trail for the rest of the game. The nine points they kicked in the second half were all from play with Dylan Geaney kicking four of them in a stunning performance
“It was probably disappointing [to lose the county semi-final to Mid-Kerry] but the system in Kerry with the districts we wouldn’t read too much into it,” said Barry Dan O’Sullivan. “We went after the club which is so important now with East Kerry being so strong with the Cliffords – so we prioritised that early on.
“We won the club championship in 2015, I was only 19. We thought we’d be winning a few more and it just didn’t materialise. It’s 2023 now. We can go to New York next year. We said we might never get another chance like this because Kerry is so competitive. We said we might not get out again. We said look we’ve only one shot at this so that’s why we stayed at home [from the Kerry holiday].”
The scoreboard in Semple Stadium was out of service at the beginning of the match. Patrons were reassured that regular updates would be relayed over the public address, in the unlikely event that anybody would have trouble keeping count. Nothing was announced for 17 minutes, by which time five precious scores had been mined from the quarry.
It wasn’t for the want of trying. The excellent Seanie O’Connor nearly found the net for Clonmel Commercials after a sharp catch and turn, but his bouncing shot cannoned off the near post and away to safety. Remarkably, Dingle hit the woodwork for the third time just a few minutes later.
The late Terry Venables coined the Christmas Tree formation, which, like most Gaelic football teams now, meant one out-and-out striker. The most popular formation in Gaelic football, though, is the Thorny Bush, where teams plant a thick human ditch inside their 45 and invite the other crowd to take a run and jump.
Dingle and Clonmel were at that caper too and the game didn’t loosen up to any degree until the second half. Paul Geaney didn’t have his first shot at the target until five minutes before half time, and Michael Quinlivan, an All-Star full forward in his pomp with Tipperary, didn’t have his first shot at goal until nine minutes from the end, a brilliant point. For three quarters of the game he was stationed as a link man in the middle third, which seemed to be a ludicrous application of his talent.
When the tempo of the game picked up in the second half, though, Dingle had more guns. There was more directness to their approach and they got the ball into the right hands in the scoring zone. Dylan Geaney, Conor Geaney and Paul Geaney kicked seven points between them and Clonmel didn’t have that variety of threats at the other end.
Quinlivan was moved in closer to goal in the final quarter and kicked a majestic point after about a three minute build-up, over and back across the field. Jack Kennedy kicked a terrific point as well in the last minute of normal time, but Clonmel couldn’t conjure an equaliser and Dingle sealed the issue with the last two scores.
Clonmel Commercials: M O’Reilly, T Condon, J Morris, R O’Dowd, K Fahey, S Kennedy, P Looram, C Deely, J Kennedy (0-2), P McGarry (0-1), C Kennedy (0-1), A Matassa, R Peters (0-1), M Quinlivan (0-1) S O’Connor (0-4, two frees, two marks).
Subs: J Peters for Fahey 36 mins; C Cannon for Matassa 58 mins; D Nee for Peters 60 mins.
Dingle: G Curran, Tom Leo O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan, Tom O’Sullivan 0-1, N Geaney, C Flannery, Brian O’Connor, B O’Sullivan (0-1), Billy O’Connor, M Geaney, P Geaney (0-2), M Flaherty (0-2), M Flannery, C Geaney (0-2), D Geaney (0-5).
Subs: T Browne for Flannery 55 mins; C O’Sullivan for Brian O’Connor 63 mins.
Referee: John Ryan (Cork).