Impressive Mid Kerry boot Feale from race
THIS, you can't imagine, is how Johnny Mulvihill imagined his return to the Feale Rangers hot seat would go.
At the start of the year he would have looked at the players in the district, he would have looked around the county and thought his team had a real chance of challenging. Unfortunately for him, he was never able to get his strongest fifteen players on the pitch at any given time.
In the first game he had no Finuge players at his disposal. In the second game – which, to be fair, they won – Anthony Maher was injured. In Sunday's third and final game he was down as many as six starters – Kieran Quirke, Pat Corridan, Jack McGuire, Brian McGuire, Conor Cox, Ger McCarthy and Damien Somers.
No team is going to be able to take those blows and survive, even with the return to the fold of the O'Connor brothers from Duagh and Paul Galvin to the saffron and blue of the Rangers. Mid Kerry boss James Sheehan had a much stronger squad to choose from. It showed.
Feale Rangers started with intent. Nigel O'Connor worked himself into a good position and powered his way towards Mike Moriarty's goal. The Rangers man's shot lacked conviction, however, and was saved.
From then on Mid Kerry assumed control and apart from a blip here and there never let go. They responded to O'Connor's effort with three points in succession without a Rangers reply – a point each from Gary Sayers, Gavan O'Grady and Darran O'Sullivan.
Rangers struck next, for a goal. Noel Kennelly fielded around centre-field and fed O'Connor. The Duagh corner forward in turn found the in-rushing Denis Walsh who palmed the ball home. Kennelly soon after pointed a free to give them the lead. It was as good as it got for the locals.
Soon after Kennelly's free Ronan Murphy floated a ball Gavan O'Grady's direction. Rising highest over Brendan Galvin the Glenbeigh / Glencar man flicked to the back of the net. Mid Kerry had their lead back and that was that.
They soon extended it to a three point lead. Rangers were struggling to get a grip around the middle of the pitch, they were struggling to get the ball into offensive position as Murphy drove forward incessantly from half-back.
The 2008 county champions led by five at the break. It really wasn't looking good for the north Kerry side. Okay they'd the breeze, such as it was, to come in the second half, but you could hardly depend on that to win you a game such as this against a team of Mid Kerry's quality from the position they were in.
They needed to start well. Instead Darran O'Sullivan hit a shot at goal into the side netting. Instead Donnchadh Walsh and Fergal Hallissey extended their lead further. O'Grady converted a free and then set up O'Sullivan for his side's second goal of the game.
It was beginning to get a little embarrassing for Rangers as they trailed by eleven points and, let's be honest here, they could have no complaint about that margin. To their credit they responded well, if only to show some pride as, with less than quarter of an hour to go, the game was gone.
Bryan Murphy – on for the injured Nigel O'Connor – pointed a couple of frees and when a Sean McCarthy effort for a point came back off the upright Kennelly showed all his experience and guile to plant the ball in the back of the net.
Pride had been restored at least, but only to a point. Mid Kerry were never under any sort of pressure – bar maybe the opening thirty seconds – in this game. They looked every inch the championship contender Feale Rangers folk had hoped their side might be at the start of the championship.
James Sheehan had a twinkle in his eye after the game. It was easy to see why.
Feale Rangers: Brendan Galvin (Moyvane), Aaron O'Connor (Duagh), Brendan Guiney (Listowel Emmets), Sean T Dillon (St Senans), Paudie Galvin (Finuge), Maurice Corridan (Finuge), Cormac Mulvihill (Listowel Emmets), Maurice O'Connor (Duagh), Anthony Maher (Duagh), Paul Galvin (Finuge), Denis Walsh (1-0) (Listowel Emmets), Sean McCarthy (0-1) (Listowel Emmets), Pádraig Quille (St Senans), Nigel O'Connor (Duagh), Noel Kennelly (1-1) (Listowel Emmets) Subs: Bryan Murphy (0-3, 2f) (Listowel Emmets) for N O'Connor, David Sheehy (Listowel Emmets) for P Quille, Bill Madden (Moyvane) for M O'Connor, Conor Mulivhill (Listowel Emmets) for A O'Connor, Shane Stack (Moyvane) for Paudie Galvin
Mid Kerry: Mike Moriarty (Beaufort), Michael John O'Connor (Beaufort), Gary Nagle (Keel), Ger Hartnett (Beaufort), Ronan Murphy (Beaufort), Fergal Griffin (Glenbeigh / Glencar), Colin McGillicuddy (Glenbeigh / Glencar), Tomás Ladden (Keel), Gary Sayers (0-1) (Keel), Darran O'Sullivan (1-1) (Glenbeigh / Glencar), Martin Burke (Keel), Gavan O'Grady (1-7, 3f, 1 '45) (Glenbeigh / Glencar), Donnchadh Walsh (0-1) (Cromane), Aaron Cahillane (Keel) Subs: Fergal Hallissey (0-1) (Beaufort) for M Burke, Kieran Doyle (Glenbeigh / Glencar) for F Griffin, Liam Carey (0-1) (Beaufort) for G Sayers, Liam Walsh (Cromane) for D Walsh
Referee: Denis Sayers (Austin Stacks)