ON a bombshell September Sunday, reigning champions Dr Crokes were sensationally beaten by Kerins O’Rahillys in the Kerry Senior Football Championship on an incredible and intense day of football in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney.
Astonishingly, Rahillys were 10 points behind at half-time – the scoreboard reading 2-10 to 0-6 – and they were still nine adrift with 50 minutes elapsed. But, in a manner that stunned spectators, they stormed back into contention thanks to two sensational Tommy Walsh goals and a third from wing back Karl Mullins. That was followed by a flurry of late points from Walsh, Cormac Coffey and the excellent Barry John Keane and the dramatic late surge consigned Crokes to a third round clash with An Ghaeltacht in a must-win encounter.
Crokes were coasting to what looked a certain victory with two goals, courtesy of Brian Looney and David Shaw, helping them into a huge interval lead after a polished and assured first-half performance. But never-say-die Strand Road, courtesy of two Walsh wonder goals in the 51st and 53rd minutes, set the scene for the most unlikely comeback of all with the Tralee outfit eventually winning 3-18 to 2-17.
There were no difficulties for Killarney Legion on Saturday night as golden goals from the bang-in-form James O’Donoghue and the mightily impressive Conor Keane, at JP O’Sulliban Park, Killorglin, helped them to a 2-13 to 2-9 victory over a Mid Kerry side that misfired despite having players of the calibre of Peter Crowley, Donnchadh Walsh, Darran O’Sullivan and Kerry Under 20 stars Mike Breen and Fiachra Clifford.
East Kerry, meanwhile, had it much their own way against Dingle after settling down to recover from two early and opportunist Paul Geaney goals at Fitzgerald Stadium.
Dingle led by two points at half-time but David Clifford – who else? – Glenflesk’s Dara Roche (two) and Spa’s Evan Cronin all found the net for East Kerry before Clifford added another to bring his personal tally to 2-2 and Kilcummin’s Noel Duggan struck a sixth as they pulled away in the second half to win by the handsome margin of 6-15 to 2-10.
Kevin McCarthy, the industrious Dara Moynihan and Paudie Clifford also impressed and featured on the scoresheet for an East Kerry that many will be keeping a close eye on in the latter stages of this year’s campaign.
Rathmore, meanwhile, recovered from an opening round defeat to topple Kenmare Shamrocks 0-17 to 0-15, Austin Stacks stunned South Kerry 4-7 to 1-15, St Kierans battled back to pip Feale Rangers by the minimum and An Ghaeltacht had an emphatic 2-18 to 0-5 victory against Kenmare District.
Legion, East Kerry, Austin Stacks and Kerins O’Rajhillys now go straight through to the SFC quarter-finals in two weeks’ time while, next weekend in Round 3, Crokes face An Ghaeltacht, Rathmore will play South Kerry in what should be a thriller, St Brendans will engage Mid Kerry and Dingle play St Kierans. The fixtures, at neutral venues, will be decided tomorrow night.
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