SOMETIMES the elements can conspire against things and the wind in Waterville last Saturday certainly affected matters on the scoring front!
However considering the hammering they took from the same opposition in the competition three years ago, Waterville won't mind too much about the quality as they came from behind on two occasions to deny Gneeveguilla what looked set to be a remarkable victory (and a draw coming towards the end of extra-time) in the Waterville Sportsfield last Saturday.
The East Kerry side, returning to the competition for the first time following their 2010 success, were dogged and determined in defence for the most part but the home side hung in where other sides would have thrown in the towel with the near impossible conditions and got their reward after a protracted 80 minutes.
The South Kerry side had all the play in the first quarter but just could not find a score despite tonnes of possession, Gneeveguilla dropped the numbers back but eventually managed to break out in the 17th minute for the game's first score from Mike 'Stones' Murphy. They would be three ahead five minutes later following a free from Donal Murphy and a second point from the former Kerry Junior captain, capitalising on a poor passing movement in the Waterville defence. A 14-metre free from Stephen O'Dwyer saved the home side the ignominy of not registering a score in the opening half after 28 minutes but Gneeveguilla were thanking their goalkeeper Patrick O'Riordan for his alertness before the half-time whistle, stopping Stephen charging through for a goal after being put through by namesake Barry.
The visitors lead would be 0-3 to 0-1 at half-time in a tough opening 30 minutes for the neutrals!
A second free for O'Dwyer in the 36th minute would be the game's only score until the closing stages as chances really became few and far between although Padraig O'Connor nearly gave Gneeveguilla what would have been a match winning goal in the circumstances on the three-quarter mark as Kevin O'Dwyer just managed to force him wide enough off the target for an otherwise goal bound shot.
As the game got nearer the full-time whistle it was hard not to blame Gneeveguilla for trying to hold on to their lead in such swirling conditions but another potential match winning goal was denied by Waterville goalkeeper Ciaran Dennehy when Liam Murphy fed DJ O'Connor a dangerous high ball, yet Dennehy managed to match O'Connor's fist in palming the ball away for a '45'.
Stephen O'Dwyer had a goal for 'square ball' disallowed at the other end but he held his nerve in floating over a 35 metre free in the final minute of normal time that finally levelled the scores up after a long struggle.
Indeed Waterville looked to have won the match soon after with their first score from play from Barry O'Dwyer yet Gneeveguilla ended a barren 32 minutes without a score with a second free from Liam Murphy meaning extra-time was needed at four points apiece.
Extra-time nearly produced as many scores as normal time (six as opposed to eight) but it followed the path of normal in terms of Gneeveguilla eeking ahead and Waterville trying to haul them back.
DJ and Donie O'Connor looked to have given the visitors a crucial advantage with points but they would lose two players to second yellow cards in separate incidents as John Paul Brosnan and Donal Murphy were sent off reducing them to 13 men. Seamus O'Sullivan's point had score at the end of the first period of extra-time 0-6 to 0-5.
Niall Fitzgerald had the teams level again early in the second period but despite their numerical disadvantage Gneeveguilla looked like coming away with an incredible draw until Stephen O'Dwyer's fourth free and an insurance point from Alan O'Shea finally decided what was a frustrating as well as a gripping tie in equal measure!
Waterville: Ciaran Dennehy, Fionan Clifford, Kevin O'Dwyer, Alan O'Dwyer, Oran Clifford, Greg Gibson, Niall Fitzgerald (0-1), Seamus O'Sullivan (0-1), Gearoid O'Sullivan, Paddy Curran, Denis O'Dwyer, Gary Galvin, Barry O'Dwyer (0-1), Stephen O'Dwyer (0-4f), Alan O'Shea (0-1) Subs: Sam O'Dwyer for Alan O'Shea, Keith Moran for Denis O'Dwyer and Alan O'Shea for Gary Galvin
Gneeveguilla: Patrick O'Riordan, Michael B Murphy, Brendan Sheehan, Timmy O'Leary, John Sheehan, Padraig O'Connor, Fergus McAuliffe, Don Murphy, Michael S Murphy (0-2), Donie O'Connor (0-1), John Paul Brosnan, Sean O'Connor, Danny O'Connor, Liam Murphy (0-2f), DJ O'Connor (0-1) Subs: Donal Murphy for Sean O'Connor, PJ Murphy for Padraig O'Connor and Eoghan Lawlor for John Sheehan
Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O'Rahillys)