ALL went pretty much as predicted in last weekend's Third Round of the County Senior Football Championship with only St Michaels / Foilmore and Kenmare keeping us guessing as to the eventual line-up of the quarter-finals.
The game in Foilmore was dominated by some poor shooting and missed chances, but after 80 minutes Stephen O'Brien showed nerves of steel and composure to ensure a replay for his side, one that might not have been needed had it been for the goalkeeping excellence of Brian Smith on the night. Kenmare might well grow as a team after this result and if Paul O'Connor returns in time for the replay they might well fancy their chances on home turf and make Ballyfoilmore regret their own missed chances in the first half.
Kilcummin must be wondering where it all went wrong last Saturday night as they conceded five goals that gave Dingle a victory that did not look likely when Paul Devane was sent off for the West Kerry side after 17 minutes. Billy O'Connor must have thought all his Christmases came at once with a hattrick as Paul Geaney and Marc Evans also took advantage of some desperate naivety on the home side's part to book their place in the quarter-finals, as not even Mike McCarthy or Brendan Kealy who scored a '45' himself could rectify a 5-5 to 0-11 defeat.
St Kierans, meanwhile, added to their growing reputation with a three point win over Kerins O'Rahillys with an Aiden Breen brace on the goalscoring front the difference in a three point win.
The Galvin twins, Matthew and Phillip manmarked the Barry Johns, Keane and Walsh, and while Micheal Quirke and Seamus Scanlon had the expected titanic battle at midfield, the Tralee side will wonder what might have been had John O'Connor not been sent off despite pushing Kierans all the way in Ballymacelligott.
While Saturday's games were played in ideal sunshine, rather greasy weather awaited both games in Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A sparse attendance in the vast ground also has to ask questions of the CCC for fixing the games at the same time as the All-Ireland Hurling Final; the rather sizeable contingent of Rathmore and Killarney Legion supporters who left the ground after the first game was an illustration of where their interest lay.
While they had been in the ground, they saw a contest that was really about Rathmore's experience being the difference once more in another Legion defeat.
The Killarney side took too long to get out of the blocks and while Conor Keane and Tom Moriarty gave them cause for concern, George O'Keeffe and John Buckley in particular had too much craft for the predominantly young side on the day.
The defending champions marched on, East Kerry asked questions of them early on with Jack Sherwood's goal, but when the Crokes got going they were hard to stop. Not even Fionn Fitzgerald's worrying injury after a challenge by Damien Dennehy put them off track as Kieran O'Leary's goal and an impressive display by Brian Looney more than made up for the absence of Eoin Brosnan on the day.
Since Monday lunchtime, the quarter-final pairings have been known and the game on everyone's lips is undoubtedly Dr Crokes vs. Austin Stacks Part Three! A repeat of the meeting at the same stage last year, Crokes won 2010's 'Black & Amber' final and it really is the one both would have wanted to avoid at this juncture.
Wayne Quillinan's side have to prove their worth in this one if they are to be considered potential usurpers to the crown and the fact they have been the only other team to have defeated them in the competition since he has been manager (South Kerry) might give them the confidence to beat the Killarney side when it matters.
The possibility of securing their place in the Munster Senior Club Championship with a win is a big motivation for the defending champions, however. The other club sides involved won't be giving up on that opportunity just yet, Rathmore face Laune Rangers in a repeat of last year's Senior Club Final anxious to finally go beyond the quarter-final stage for the
first time and will feel this is definitely their best chance over a Laune Rangers side they have a good recent record against.
Rangers did what they usually do in proving people wrong with their win over Milltown / Castlemaine however and they will view this as another opportunity to do the same.
St Kierans await the winners of the Kenmare and St Michaels Foilmore replay and will be wondering if the victor is either tired or buoyed on by advancing depending on what way the fixture schedule pans out. One can only imagine what the last few months has been like for Feale Rangers manager Brian Scanlon with all the waiting and even though they now know that Dingle will be their opponents in the quarter-finals, the uncertainty continues with the Finuge players involved in two other very important competitions at the moment.
While we all await clarity on when the dates for those will be confirmed, Dingle have the County League to keep them occupied and the district will continue to probably be in the dark in terms of proper preparation. It will add a certain degree of the mystery to their actual line-up on the day but the situation does throw further doubt on the actual advantages of getting a bye into the quarterfinals of the competition, something no side has won their quarter-final with since 2008, which co-incidentally enough Dingle were the recipients of that year. WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 12 Keanes Super Valu Minor Football Championship John Mitchel's V Kenmare District18:00 THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 13 Keanes Super Valu Minor Football Championship St Brendan's V South Kerry 18:00 FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 14 Credit Union County Senior Hurling League Div 1 Kilmoyley V Ballyheigue 18:00 Molyneaux Cup Laune Rangers V Dr Crokes 18:00 McElligott Cup Gneeveguilla V Ardfert 18:00 SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 15 County Senior Football League Division 1 Milltown/Castlemaine V Dingle 18:00 Gneeveguilla V Spa 18:00 St Michael's-Foilmore V Legion 18:00 Division 2 Finuge V Kenmare 18:00 Tarbert V Castleisland Desmonds 18:00 Skelligs Rangers V Annascaul 18:00 Listowel Emmets V Waterville Frank Caseys 18:00 Division 3 Scartaglin V Firies 18:00 Currow V Glenbeigh-Glencar 18:00 Dromid Pearses V Ballymacelligott 18:00 St Mary's V John Mitchel's 18:00 Cordal V Beaufort 18:00 Division 4 Sneem/Derrynane V Moyvane 18:00 Lispole V St Senan's 18:00 Listry V Na Gaeil 18:00 Beale V Duagh 18:00 Templenoe V Churchill 18:00 Ballyduff V Tuosist 18:00 Division 5 Ballylongford V Brosna 18:00 Knocknagoshel V Valentia 18:00 Kerins O'Rahilly's V Fossa 18:00 Renard V Kilgarvan 18:00 SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 16 County Senior Football League Division 1 Kerins O'Rahilly's V Ardfert 14:30 Laune Rangers V Dr Crokes 14:30 Rathmore V Austin Stacks 14:30 Division 2 Kilcummin V St Pats 14:30 Glenflesk V An Ghaeltacht 14:30 Division 5 Cromane V Ballydonoghue 14:30 Dingle V Laune Rangers 14:30 Keanes Supervalu Minor Hurling Championship Lixnaw V Abbeydorney 13:30 Kilmoyley V Causeway 15:00