AND after all that, the stage is set for a glamour Kerry Senior Football Championship district board showdown between star-studded reigning champions East Kerry and a gritty, never-say-die Mid Kerry outfit.
Before, unavoidably, a near deserted Austin Stack Park in Tralee last night, championship specialists Dr Crokes and Mid Kerry served up a truly sensational extra time cracker that was worth multiples of the €10 fee supporters contributed to watch the game on livestream.
It was breathless stuff, real end-to-end high drama between two sides hell-bent at earning a shot at Kerry skipper David Clifford and co in the Bishop Moynihan Cup decider.
A goal from sharpshooter Gavan O’Grady and a dramatic last gasp point from Beaufort’s Jack O’Connor, a Kerry minor last year, sealed it on a 3-20 to 3-19 scoreline for the astute Peter O’Sullivan’s finely tuned outfit.
They had to dig deep to stay in the championship when a superb Gavin White goal gave Crokes a four-point advantage in the second period of extra time and suggested that it was to be a black and amber day out on count final day.
In the absence of top scorer Tony Brosnan, recovering from punctured lung, Kerry star Micheál Burns was in brilliant form for Dr Crokes and he contributed a handsome 1-5 in game that saw the versatile Mark O’Shea really impressing for Edmund O’Sullivan’s side while veteran Kieran O’Leary also had his moments.
But if Crokes had their stand-outs then so too did Mid Kerry and none more so than Ronan Murphy from Beaufort whose powerful fielding and overall contribution might not have gone unnoticed with a certain parishioner in his neighbouring Listry.
Also to the fore for Mid Kerry were the flying Pa Kilkenny, Mike Breen, Liam Carey, veteran Darran O’Sullivan who still has so much to offer and, of course, Gavan O’Grady who seldom leaves his shooting boots in the locker room and ended up here with a hefty 1-8.
With great justification for confidence, Mid Kerry will now have their sights on the Holy Grail for the first since 2008 but that won’t be easy with East Kerry determined to make it two on the trot.
Jerry O’Sullivan’s charges, without the suspended David Clifford, were far from their best against a seriously off form St Brendan’s in Friday night’s semi-final but they could still afford the luxury of a succession of wides – nine in the second half alone – and still have enough firepower to account for Jack Barry, Diarmuid O’Connor and co.
In Clifford’s absence, energetic Evan Cronin of Spa took up the scoring responsibilities and he contributed 1-2 with Dara Roche from Glenflesk unerring from placed balls.
Dara Moynihan, who missed last year’s successful campaign due to injury, was making up for lost time with a swashbuckling performance and he kicked two points as well as turning provided or a number of occasions.
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