THE third time truly was a charm for Scartaglin in Austin Stack Park last Sunday as they finally buried the bad memories of defeats to Tuosist in 2008 and Brosna 10 short months ago in winning their first Novice title since 1983.
There were a number of mini scares along the way to claiming the Hickey/ Quirke Cup, not least when Padraig Reidy had to go off after eight minutes following an accidental clash of heads with Lispole's Colm Galvin that saw the latter take no further part in the game but Reidy re- emerged from the dressing room in the 20th minute to a rapturous applause from the Scartaglin faithful present. Reidy made the decisive break for what would prove to be the decisive score in the 36th minute, finding himself hauled down inside the area while bearing down on goal and Daniel Murphy converted the spot-kick that ultimately took the steam of Lispole's challenge.
Overall the game was a poor stop-start affair as a contest but Scart were clinical in the manner of their victory, drawing fouls in scoreable positions well throughout the match as Lispole offered very little threat up front bar the exploits of Declan O'Sullivan. Reidy's brief withdrawal had come after the game's first score, the Trojan Pa Rahilly and Phillip O'Sullivan combining to put Denis Lenihan through for the game's opening score. Lenihan was the lynchpin in the Scart attack, scoring four of their first half total of six points but he too suffered injury, this one meaning he could no further part, just before half-time but Mike Horan's conversion of a free showed that Scart were not going to let that setback get to them either. Lispole failed to score until the 21st minute, Declan O'Sullivan getting them off the mark but a free from Cathal O'Sullivan and a second point from the former Kerry Minor gave hope that the game would still be alive as a contest after the restart, 0-6 to 0-3 the halftime score in favour of the St Kierans side.
Horan drove two chances wide early in the second half to cause a bit of worry amongst the Scartaglin supporters, which increased when Declan O'Sullivan scored his third point in the 33rd minute. However that would be the closest the West Kerry side would get to them. Substitute Pat O'Sullivan found Reidy making a darting run and Reidy looked set to shoot for goal only to be taken down inside the area and Sean Joy waved his arms out wide for a penalty. Daniel Murphy slotted the ball past Conor Hanafin and the Scart supporters finally started to believe that this would be the day they would get the Novice 'monkey' off their backs. Lispole started to get very disjointed in their play and when Ger O'Connor dispossessed Noel Higgins in a very promising position in the 44th minute and Denis Devane dropped a free into Martin Hewitt's hands soon after one sensed that Scart were not going to let the game slip away from them like they did with Brosna the year before. The final 10 minutes had the strong feel of a procession about it, a free from Murphy and a Brendan Rahilly point completing the scoring for the victors. Substitute Adrian O Raoill drove a late Lispole chance straight into a wall of bodies with the resulting ' 45' dropped short to Denis Devane for a consolation point but Lispole's misery was soon ended to the sound of the final whistle.
Scartaglin may not have appealed to the purists with the manner in which they finally claimed the much coveted prize, but they devised a system that maximized their strengths as a team and after the heartache of two final losses in the recent past, any sort of victory would have done to overcome that pain. They have shown what a team lacks in skill certainly can be made up for in determination and effort. Lispole have an eye of the future, they do have promising players but will need to add toughness, craft and experience if they are to be a force at this level in the coming years. SCARTAGLIN: Martin Hewitt, Declan O'Mahony, Bernard Cronin, Ger O'Connor, Seamus O'Riordan, Padraig Reidy, Pa Murphy, Mike Coakley (0-1), Daniel Murphy (1-1, 1f), Mike Horan (0-1, 1f), Brendan Rahilly (0-1), Noel Rahilly, Denis Lenihan (0-4, 2f), Phillip O'Sullivan, Pa Rahilly (0-1) Subs: Pat O'Sullivan for Lenihan, Tim Coakley for Noel Rahilly, Tom Boyle for Pa Rahilly, Jeremiah O'Sullivan for Phillip O'Sullivan and Mike Fitzgerald for Horan LISPOLE: Conor Hanafin, Darren O'Carroll, Padraig O'Sullivan, Dara O'Sullivan, Damien O'Sullivan, Sean Dorgan, Denis Devane (0-1). Kieran O'Sullivan, Donnacha Higgins, Noel Higgins, Shane O'Sullivan, Colm Galvin, Tom Kavanagh, Cathal O'Sullivan (0-1, 1f), Declan O'Sullivan (0-3, 1f) Subs: Micheal Kavanagh for Galvin, Matthew Sean O Grifin for Tom Kavanagh and Adrian O Raoill for Micheal Kavanagh. REFEREE: Sean Joy (Laune Rangers)