Hill boys reach 2A summit
When a team have the passion and desire to succeed in any game nothing is impossible and Shanakill Athletic displayed that emphatically on Sunday when they lifted the Denny Division 2A title with a thrilling victory over a gallant Skelliga side in an entertaining final at Mounthawk Park on Sunday.
Seldom has such an electric atmosphere before a game been witnessed, as the whole of the Shanakill estate in Tralee seemed to be present to cheer on The Hill Boys as they are known in that part of the town.
The flag of the club was proudly on display by all of the fans and their vocal encouragement during the game was a great source of encouragement for the team.
Skelliga were not short of support either with the Iveragh Peninsula well represented at the big showdown.
Unfortunately the weather was very unsuitable for the game with a strong gale and intermittent rain making conditions very difficult for the players.
Consequently it was extremely hard to put constructive football together but to their credit both sides approached the game in a positive manner and contested every ball with great passion and commitment.
Skelliga had the wind advantage in the first half but scoring chances were very limited in the opening quarter of the game.
The Shanakill keeper saved an early long-range effort for Skelliga from Sean Cournane easily enough. However Skelliga had a great chance in the 10th minute when Stevie Boyle was put in in by a long delivery but his effort to chip the advancing goalie was not good enough.
Kevin Quirke had the ball in the net for Shanakill shortly afterwards but it did not stand as he had strayed offside.
Now Brendan Coffey was making his presence felt in the middle of the park for Shanakill while Kevin Quirke was proving to be a real menace up front with his speed and scintillating runs at defenders.
The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute when Shanakill forced a corner.
It was floated into the goalmouth by Brendan Coffey and as it bobbled about an effort was blocked on the line and it came out to Shane Dowd and he drilled a low shot to the bottom corner. There was a suggestion that he handled the ball before he controlled it but I think the referee got it right it is was purely accidental.
Then Skelliga put an attack together which led to a free kick and Sean Cournane effort was only a whisker away hitting the top of the crossbar.
Then Skelliga attacked in a sweeping move and an overhead kick by Jimmy Stapleton was saved by the Shanakill keeper.
He then sent a long ball right down into the Skelliga half and Kevin Quirke stole a march on defenders drew out the Skelliga goalie Cormac O Shea and applied a neat finish to put Shanakill in a very healthy position at the break.
Skelliga began the second half in all out attack and they should have got one back in the 55th minute when Sean Cournane put Stevie Boyle in with a great ball and with the Shanakill goalie off his line his effort to chip him was held up in the wind and Brendan Coffey got in a great challenge to avert the danger.
Jimmy Stapleton then had the ball in the net for Skelliga but it was not allowed as he was judged to have fouled the Shanakill goalie Gordon Carey.
Then Sean Cournane created another chance this time for Niall O Driscoll but he shot straight at the keeper.
Their best chance in the game came in the 68th minute when Sean Cournane delivered a sweet cross to sub Rad Keating who had a free header from 6 yards and could not find the net.
Shanakill should have put the game to bed in the 80th minute when James O Sullivan, Graham O Leary and sub Tony O Brien combined to set up Kevin Quirke who rounded the Skelliga goalie but with the goals gaping at him from 6 yards he blazed over the top.
Skelliga continued to try and get one back but the Shanakill defence held firm and the Tralee side ran out deserving winners.
Shanakill done their homework well for this game defending well at the back and putting the shackles on Skelliga ace striker Stevie Boyle.
There was a great reception for the captain of the Shanakill side Rob Lynch as he was presented with the cup by the secretary of the KDL John O Regan.
In his first big final referee Tom Kerrisk done a very good job as did his linesmen Tom O'Sullivan and Stuart Templemen.
Shanakill Athletic: Gordon Carey, Emmy Quirke, Lorcan Seymore, Kieran McCaughley, James O'Sullivan, Robert Lynch, Scott Hennessy, Brendan Coffey, Shane O'Dowd, Graham O'Leary, Kevin Quirke. Subs: Tony O'Brien for Shane Dowd
Skelliga FC: Cormac O'Shea, Eoghan O'Riordan, Kenneth Casey, Barry O'Sullivan, Patrick Cournane, Niall O'Driscoll, Johnny Clifford, Darragh O'Sullivan, Sean Cournane, Jimmy Stapleton and Stevie Boyle. Subs: Rad Keating for Patrick Cournane, Brian Smith for Eoghan O'Riordan.
Referee: Tom Kerrisk