South Kerry Junior Hurling Championship Final : Austin Stacks 0-13; Duagh 0-12.
When these sides met in the South Kerry JH League Final just over seven weeks ago Duagh had a one point victory. In the South Kerry JH Championship Final played under lights in Abbeydorney on this Saturday evening (20th Oct) it was our lads who had the one point win after a pulsating display by both sides.
Duagh opened the scoring with a pointed free inside the first minute. But as it turned out that was the only time that they led in the game. It took us six minutes to open our account when Paul Daly pointed from a free after a foul on Eoghan McKivergan. Between then and the 13th minute Paul had converted three more – two from frees and one from a 65 – with Cillian O’Riordan adding one from play. This left us ahead by five points to one at that stage. But in the next eight minutes Duagh had reduced our lead to the bare minimum when they added three unanswered points. We finished the half the stronger, putting over three of our own – the first a classic from play by Ronan Gilsenan and the other two from Paul Daly frees which left us with a double score lead at the break (0-8 to 0-4).
The second half was just 42 seconds old when Paul was on target again from a free after a foul on Rory Forbes. Then both sides had dominant spells – Duagh with three points between the 32nd and 40th minutes and then our turn with three between the 41st and 43rd minutes – Paul with two and Ronan Gilsenan with another peach of a point from play. We led at that stage by 12 points to seven. Duagh however weren’t Divisional League champions for nothing and dominated the last quarter but our defenders were absolutely superb preventing many goal chances by the opposition. But bit by bit Duagh nipped away at our lead with points in the 44th and 49th minutes to leave just three points between the sides. Then in the 52nd minute they were awarded a penalty but Danny McGuire made a brilliant save. However from the resultant sixty five Duagh pointed and kept up the pressure after that. Another attack in the 60th minute looked like a certain goal but a brilliant intervention by Kevin O’Leary saw the ball going over the bar instead. Danny McGuire was most unlucky at that stage to receive a second yellow card and full forward Ronan Gilsenan took over goal-keeping duties. Pip wasn’t long between the posts when he had to face a second penalty. And even though this penalty was well-taken as well Ronan, like Danny before him, made a brilliant save to divert it out for another sixty five. Now looking for a winning goal Duagh dropped it in to the square but it was cleared up field and Paul Daly was at the end of the move to put over his 10th and our 13th and last point of the game in the 66th minute. But still the game went on (referee John Ross rightly added an additional eight minutes and 23 seconds in the second half after a number of skirmishes had interrupted play) and with excitement at fever-pitch Duagh mounted one last attack but with our defence still holding strong all they could manage was one last point after which the final whistle was eventually blown and we regained the Cup we last held in 2016 with a narrow but well-deserved one point win.
This was as pulsating and as exciting a hurling game as one could have witnessed, in keeping with the glorious hurling that was played at inter-county level all season. At our level the game was just as riveting as Limerick’s one point win over Galway on the 19th August last. We have already referred to Danny’s brilliant performance in goals. In front of Danny our six backs were outstanding. In the corners David Walsh and Kevin O’Leary foraged for every ball. Our two wing men, Ciarán Breen and Rory Forbes not alone defended well but launched attack after attack. Eoghan McKivergan at centre-back didn’t put a foot wrong. But a big part in winning this game was made by our two outstanding mentors, Michael O’Leary and Ger Scollard when they picked Peter O’Regan at full back. For the last two seasons Peter was exceptional at full forward but the switch to the number 3 position where he had played for most of the 23 seasons of his playing career with the Club was a master-piece by Michael and Ger as Pete was simply brilliant all through. Also simply brilliant were Cillian O’Riordan and Andrew Morrissey at centre-field. They played all over the place, defending when required and mounting attack after attack throughout the game . One might read from the scoring stats that we had only two forwards up front but that was far from the truth. Andrew Foley and Kieran McCaughley, our two wing forwards, together with our corner men, Tadhg Meehan (what an inspirational captain Tadhg is as well) and Daniel Teahan (son of Pádraig) laid off ball after ball to our two outstanding scorers Paul Daly and Ronan Gilsenan. And Ronan capped a brilliant performance when he took up goalkeeping duties late in the game. Paul was unerring from play and from placed balls with a Man of the Match performance.
And what can one say about Wayne Guthrie. Wayne was introduced half way through the second half and even though some say this was his first Senior game (he was a brilliant Juvenile Hurler in his day) he contributed in no small way to the victory. Thanks also to those on the match programme who were unfortunate not to get a run on the night – John Connolly (and apologies again John for getting the spelling wrong down the years), Thomas Meehan, Gearóid McCann, Denny O’Regan, Jason Conway and last but by no means least our other outstanding forward, Colm Ó Giollagáin who couldn’t be present due to work commitments. Thanks also to Elma and Ciara Nix whose outstanding work on Twitter keeps our loyal supporters at home and abroad informed of all the action.
And finally we must compliment our die-hard supporters who may not be large in numbers but are always there when needed.
Team: Danny McGuire, David Walsh, Peter O’Regan, Kevin O’Leary, Ciarán Breen, Eoghan McKivergan, Rory Forbes, Cillian O’Riordan (0-1), Andrew Morrissey, Andrew Foley, Paul Daly (0-10 – seven frees, one 65), Kieran McCaughley, Tadhg Meehan (Capt), Ronan Gilsenan (0-2), Daniel Teahan.
Sub used: Wayne Guthrie (45m).
If we can gather ourselves together after Saturday night’s exploits our last game of the season – the Co. IH Plate Final against Ballyheigue is scheduled to go ahead under lights in Caherslee on next Friday evening (26th Oct) at 7.30pm.