HE passed up on an opportunity of an all-expenses-paid trip to Boston with the All-Stars to help his club in its hour of need and it paid off handsomely for Kerry star Paul Murphy who was named man-of-the-match as Rathmore just edged out Killarney Legion to clinch the East Kerry senior football championship crown in Killarney’s Fitzgerald Stadium today.
It took another extra time thriller to separate the sides with Rathmore eventually emerging victorious by a single point, 1-11 to 1-10, to register their first O’Donoghue Cup success for eight years.
Interestingly, Murphy was too kept far too busy by swashbuckling Legion star Kieran Slattery in the drawn game to make any great mark on the game but a shoulder injury sustained by Slattery cost the Killarney side dearly as he was ruled out of today’s encounter and he was badly missed.
Murphy didn’t have to contend with the strong running game of Slattery and that gave him much more freedom to stamp his authority on proceedings.
Legion also had to take to the field without James O’Donoghue, of course, and in the absence of two of their key players, they couldn’t make the impact they desired.
They weren’t far off, however, and they were right in it up to the very last whistle after staging another fantastic comeback that was every bit as impressive as the drawn game.
The red ribbons were already being attached to the cup when Damien O’Sullivan pounced for a dramatic late goal to send the game to extra time but Rathmore just pipped Peter Keane’s side to spark off great celebrations in the parish.
To be frank, Legion has enough opportunities to win it but they failed to capitalise on the possession they enjoyed and Rathmore were that little bit more clinical in their finishing, although one extra time point was hotly disputed by the Killarney side.
This success earned Aidan O’Mahony his second East Kerry medal with Rathmore which will give him particular satisfaction as he was playing in his ninth final for his home parish.
Legion can also reflect on a very successful season in which they gained promotion to the top flight of the county league as Division 2 champions, toppled deadly rivals Dr Crokes in the course of a great championship run and pushed Rathmore all the way – not once but twice – in the district board final.