South Kerry claim title with extra-time effort
Aidan Walsh punches late point to seal victory at Fitzgerald Stadium
Bryan Sheehan of South Kerry celebrates scoring a goal against Killarney Legion during the Kerry senior football championship final replay at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. Photograph: Inpho
South Kerry captured their ninth Kerry senior football championship title, when they edged out Killarney Legion in a dramatic replay at the Fitzgerald Stadium that finished in semi darkness, because extra time was required.
Despite losing man-of-the-match Bryan Sheehan early in extra time through a black card, somehow South Kerry with Declan O’Sullivan taking over the leadership mantle, managed to finish the stronger in extra-time and it was a punched point from South Kerry and St Mary’s Aidan Walsh that saw them win a game, that for long periods looked like slipping away from them.
Team boss John Sugrue was loud in his praise of Sheehan and his senior players. “It’s been a saga, an absolute rollercoaster. I’m just delighted for that bunch of fellas that they have got their reward. They’ve been unbelievable ambassadors all year, hard-working, everything you want out of a bunch of players they gave it.We’ve lots and lots of fellas who will do that (what Sheehan did). Brendan O’Sullivan came back into a game and really gave us a good platform in midfield again where Bryan got the black card. Declan, despite playing with one leg and half another leg. They’ve an unbelievable well of character and strength.”
Bryan Sheehan displayed all his leadership qualities as he dragged South Kerry back into the contest in the second half after his side fell seven points (1-10 to 0-6), behind Legion who had kicked the opening three points of the second half, via two James O’Donoghue frees and a superb effort from Padraig O’Connor. Jamie O’Sullivan had scored their goal in a pedestrian opening half, that Legion led 1-7 to 0-6 at the break.
It appeared Killarney Legion were about to cruise to their first county title win since 1946 but Kerry star Bryan Sheehan produced a masterclass with some inspired play that saw him firstly set up Aidan Walsh for a point and then in the 39th minute he collected a ball from Declan O’Sullivan and beat a number of Legion defenders before planting the ball in the back of the net.
This appeared to revitalise South Kerry as the Legion appeared to be crumbling when in sight of the finish line and points from Sheehan and Conor O’Shea narrowed the gap to a point with 10 minutes remaining and then Killian Young kicked over the equaliser.
Since neither side could break the deadlock, the game required extra time and despite losing Sheehan to a black card early, Aidan Walsh emerged as the South Kerry hero, with the winning point, punched over the 79th minute.
SOUTH KERRY: B O’Connor, B Sugrue, K Young (0-1), P O’Sullivan, Pádraig O’Sullivan, B Walsh, Denis Daly, Bryan Sheehan (1-5, 0-1 free, 0-1 45) B O’Sullivan, P O’Connor, Declan O’Sullivan, A Walsh (0-3), I Galvin, P O Donoghue (0-1), C O Shea (0-1).
Subs: R Wharton for P O’Connor (36 mins), G Gibson for B O’Sullivan (36 mins); Daniel Daly (0-2, one free) for I Galvin (42 mins), B O’Sullivan for B Sheehan (b/c 71) Aidan Shine O’Sullivan for B Sugrue (73 mins), Odhran Clifford for Pádraig O’Sullivan (79 mins).
KILLARNEY LEGION: B Kelly; P O’Connor (0-2), D Sheehan, C Davies; J Lyne, Damian O’Sullivan, D O’Doherty; S Keane, J O’Sullivan (1-0), B McGuire (0-1), J O’Donoghue (0-3, frees) , D Lyne; T Moriarty (0-1), C Sheahan, C Keane (0-5, four frees).
Subs: K Breen for D Lyne (49 mins); J O’Neill for B McGuire (56 mins); Denis Sheahan for T Moriarty (57 mins); Andy O’Sullivan for C Sheahan (b/c 59 mins) David O’Sullivan for J O’Donoghue (66 mins); James O’Donoghue for Denis Sheahan (72), Tom Slattery for Shaun Keane [79 mins).
Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O’Rahilly’s)