'NOTHING beats being there' the GAA have been telling us all summer. Well, Dingle are there now, finally. After 61 years in the wilderness a Dingle GAA club team has made it back to the county senior football final.
DINGLE 4-5 ST KIERANS 0-14
That this will be the first ever county final that a team from just Dingle town will contest will make it even sweeter. And even sweeter again will be the sobering realisation that they could have been beaten out the gate at this penultimate stage by St Kierans but weren't.
Not many teams that score only five points win championship semi-finals; but then not many teams that score four goals lose those games either. Dingle were outscored by 14 times to nine by a St Kierans side that truly believed they could win this match but, no matter, they won by a three-point margin in the end by virtue of four goals that knocked the stuffing out of the divisional team.
Dingle's very own troika – the Geaneys – helped themselves to a goal each in a strange first half of a game, while Billy O'Connor's sensational goal scoring feats continued in the second half with a somewhat fortuitous goal that finally sank a St Kierans team that was badly listing but not quite gone under.
Dingle manager Murt Moriarty wasn't too concerned with the lop-sided look of the scoreboard, nor should he have been. That will be addressed over the next fortnight before his team returns to Austin Stack Park to try and torpedo the reigning champions, Dr Crokes, three-in-a-row bid.
Moriarty's counterpart, Martin Horgan, admitted in the aftermath that he absolutely knew that Dingle would not out-point his St Kierans team; the concession of four goals (and a missed penalty on their own side) was not part of the gameplan.
Bizarre as this semi-final was in some respects, the telling of it is simple. St Kierans coughed up the ball too many times in critical areas are were punished ruthlessly by Dingle's ability to mine goals. Dingle struggled to find any sustained fluency through their attack, however, and managed just two points from play over the hour.
St Kierans – well drilled, disciplined and industrious – for too long lacked fluency also, though they did retain that ability to pick off points from several outlets.
However, despite a saved penalty from Tom McGoldrick and one other fluffed goal chance from Eamon John O'Donoghue, just when St Kierans needed a lifeline, the divisional side lacked a necessary ruthlessness in attack. In the end four green flags will almost always prevail over none.
St Kierans led 0-3 to 0-1 when Dingle's first goal arrived; Paul Geaney seizing on a James Walsh turnover to put Mikey Geaney through to crash the ball beyond Sean Óg Ó Ciardubháin from 20 metres. Three minutes later it was the Paul and David Geaney act; the former bundled over as he was about to shoot at goal, with the latter neatly dispatching the penalty past Ó Ciardubháin. That left Dingle 2-1 to 0-4 ahead and the next score - 14 minutes later - came from Paul Geaney himself. This time the corner forward reacted quickest when the ball squirted from a goalmouth scramble and he picked and kicked to the net to extend Dingle's lead, and they led 3-1 to 05 at half-time.
St Kierans drew first blood in the second half, Thomas Hickey pointing after three minutes, before James Walsh and Paul Geaney free) exchanged points.
St Kierans, mainly through the efforts of Thomas Hickey, the Walsh brother and Aidan Breen, chipped into Dingle's lead and by the 53rd minute they trailed by just two, 3-4 to 0-11.
Paul Geaney pointed from play but then underhit another effort, which Billy O'Connor flicked past Sean Og O Ciardubhain for Dingle's fourth goal, and the final nail in St Kierans coffin. DINGLE: S Ó Flatharta; TBO Brosnachain, J O Murchu, G O Currain, Pol O Dubhain, B O Ceilleachair, JBO Brosnachain, CBO Muircheartaigh, D O Suilleabhain, Padraig O Dubhain, M O Geibheannaigh (1-0), S Mac An tSithigh (0-1f), P O Geibheannaigh (1-4, 02f), B O Conchuir (1-0), D O Geibheannaigh (1-0 pen). Subs: R O Beaglaoich for Padraig O Dubhain (41); S O Ceilleachair for B O Ceilleachair (60). ST KIERAN'S: S Óg Ó Ciardubháin (Cordal); P Galvin (Ballymacelligott), M Galvin (Ballymacelligott), P Reidy (Scartaglin); M Hickey (Desmonds), J Walsh (0-3, 2f) (Knocknagoshel), D O'Sullivan (Currow); S Scanlon (0-1) (Currow), M Coakley (0-1) (Scartaglin); F McAuliffe (Brosna), T Hickey (01) (Desmonds), A Breen (Ballymacelligott); E Walsh (0-4) (Knocknagoshel), EJ O'Donoghue (Cordal); T McGoldrick (0-1) (Brosna). Subs: P O'Connor (0-1) (Cordal) for McGoldrick (h-t); P McCarthy (Currow) for Coakley (36); D Murphy (Scartaglin) for McCarthy (56); D O'Connor (Scartaglin) for O'Sullivan (58). REFEREE: M Curran (Dromid)