Cronin strike seals the deal for on song East Kerry
THEY deserved to win by more.
Not that they'll care unduly about that. They have the cup. They're the county champions. That's all that matters.
East Kerry's victory came from a well executed gameplan that allowed the game to be played on their terms for the most part.
An Ghaeltacht were always chasing the game following a poor start to proceedings, which saw them trail by 0-6 to 0-1 after 14 minutes. Even though the Gaeltacht did level the scores up at one point, crucially, they never went ahead at any stage of the match.
Kerry minor midfielder Kieran Murphy was prominent in the first-half – scoring the first point of the match and nearly stealing in twice for two goal chances that would really have put his side out of sight before the break.
Padraig De Brun was another to trouble An Ghaeltacht in the first period and when Dara Roche put East Kerry five ahead just short of the end of the first quarter, it looked to be quite comfortable for James Fleming's side. An Ghaeltacht did rally for a 12 minute period or so.
The early introduction of substitute Rob Ó Sé giving them a foothold in the game and when Cathal Ó Garbhia levelled the scores up at six points apiece in the 27th minute, it looked like they had weathered the early storm.
East Kerry scored the final three points of the half to lead by three, however. Roche along with Glenflesk club-mate Gavin Kelly and Spa's Liam Kearney – only a point blank save by Sean Ó Luing prevented his effort from being a goal – ensured the half-time score was 0-9 to 0-6 in East Kerry's favour.
Eanna Ó Conchuir scored straight from the restart for An Ghaeltacht and Brian Ó Beaglaoich soon reduced the margin to one, but Kelly and Paudie Clifford kept East Kerry in front until the game's crucial score.
Shane Cronin made no mistake when the opportunity presented itself 10 minutes into the second-half to give his side a 1-12 to 0-10 advantage. That lead would be 1-15 to 0-11 with eight minutes left with a Sean Ó Gairbhi point in the 44th minute An Ghaeltacht's only score in the intervening period.
A combination of An Ghaeltacht refusing to throw in the towel and, perhaps, some finishing line jitters by East Kerry allowed the game to stay in the balance until the final whistle.
The club side hit four unanswered points to make Cronin's goal the difference between the sides heading into injury time at 1-15 to 0-15. Dara Roche was composed in hitting the insurance score that restored East Kerry's two score advantage, however.
A regretful melee broke out at the entrance end of JP O'Sullivan Park as An Ghaeltacht went in search of dramatic salvation. East Kerry's Padraig O'Sullivan and An Ghaeltacht's Seamus Ó Muircheartaigh were red carded for their part in the mini fracas, but a resulting free, which was slotted over by ÓO Conchuir, meant that the losing margin was only three points for his side at the final whistle.
A first Minor title since 2004 for East Kerry as Killorglin proves to be a happy hunting ground again in Minor Finals for teams in the district when you consider Kilcummin's success back in 2010 at the same venue.
Both sides have a majority of the same players underage again next year so don't be surprised to see either feature strongly again in the competition next year.
East Kerry: Aaron Farrell (Spa), Dan O'Donoghue (do, 0-1), Padraig O'Sullivan (Gneeveguilla), Shane Courtney (Glenflesk), James McCarrick (do), Timmy Hussey (do), James O'Donoghue (Firies), Kieran Murphy (Glenflesk, 0-1), Liam Kearney (Spa, 0-1), Dara Rice (Fossa), Shane Cronin (Spa, 1-1), Padraig de Brun (Firies, 0-1), Gavin Kelly (Glenflesk, 0-5, 1f), Dara Roche (do, 0-4, 1f), Paudie Clifford (Fossa, 0-2, 1 '45') Subs: Josh Flynn (Firies) for O'Donoghue, Darren Brosnan (Gneeveguilla) for Hussey and Joe Clifford (Listry) for de Brun
An Ghaeltacht: Sean Ó Luing, Cathal Ó Garbhia (0-1), Cathal Ó Luing, Cian Ó Murchu, Mairtin Ó Gormain, Brian Ó Beaglaoich (0-2), Peter Ó Gairbhi, Brian Ó Murchu, Caoimhghin Ó Beaglaoich (0-1), Pol Breathnach (0-3), Eanna Ó Conchuir (0-2, 1f), PJ Mac Laimh, Sean Ó Bambaire, Seamus Ó Muircheartaigh (0-4, 1f), Sean Ó Gairbhi (0-2) Subs: Rob Ó Sé for Peter Ó Gairbhi, Tomas Ó Sé (0-1) for Brian Ó Murchu, Colm Ó Beaglaoich for Mac Laimh and Brian Ó Murchu for O Bambaire
Referee: Brendan Griffin (Clounmacon)