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Monday 15 October 2018

Kiskeam rise to shock Fermoy

County PIFC Final

AJ O'Connor, Kiskeam captain, lifts the Cup during his speech, after their win against Fermoy. Photo: Jim Coughlan
AJ O'Connor, Kiskeam captain, lifts the Cup during his speech, after their win against Fermoy. Photo: Jim Coughlan

Noel Horgan

The adage that a good start is half the battle certainly rang true in last Sunday's county PIFC final at Pairc Ui Rinn.

Kiskeam 2-12 Fermoy 0-14

With 13 minutes gone, Kiskeam, much quicker to settle into the game, had scorched into a two-goal lead, and their sparkling play up to that point provided the platform upon which their historic triumph against the odds over Fermoy was built.

It was by no means plain sailing for the Duhallow men after that, however, but the cushion they enjoyed allowed them to put a strong emphasis on massed defending, which meant Fermoy were repeatedly frustrated in their efforts to erase the deficit.

Coming just two weeks after Fermoy, with the bulk of the same players on board, were beaten in the hurling final by Bandon, it was a particularly painful experience for the Avondhu side, but they can have no real complaints about the outcome.

The fact is they were fairly outplayed during the opening quarter, and it would be churlish to suggest their sluggish start had anything to do with pressure stemming either from the fear of losing a second county final in a fortnight or the burden of expectation they carried into this contest.

Rather had it to do with the quality of the football Kiskeam produced, with wing back Michael Casey setting the pattern for their early flourish when surging upfield after taking a pass from midfielder Tomás Dennehy to get them off the mark inside two minutes.

They had stretched the gap to three points before Ronan O'Callaghan opened Fermoy's account in the 8th minute, and after Ruairi O'Hagan cut the gap to the minimum from a free, Kiskeam delivered the first hammer-blow three minutes later.

It came from David Scannell, who initiated the attack himself when feeding Michael Herlihy before surging forward to receive the latter's clever return pass and knock the ball home from close range.

The Fermoy rearguard was soon to be clinically carved open again after Tom O'Sullivan made a great run to create a chance that Tomas Dennehy simply couldn't miss.

Leading by 2-3 to 0-3, and playing into a strong wind, Kiskeam's prospects had clearly taken on a very rosy hue at that juncture, but Fermoy gradually got their act together, and they proceeded to apply the bulk of the pressure in the second quarter.

From the outset, Kiskeam had employed full forward Daniel Fitzgerald as a sweeper in front of the full back line, and they became even more defensively-minded after they had gone two goals clear.

It was playing with fire to a certain extent, but it worked out well enough, although they had reason to feel relieved after AJ O'Connor intercepted a fisted pass by Ruairi O'Hagan at the edge of the square to deny Fermoy a goal chance in the 16th minute.

Later, Fermoy endured even greater frustration when Padraig De Roiste, put clean through by O'Hagan, had his first-timed shot brilliantly deflected outside the posts by Kiskeam 'keeper Anthony Casey.

Casey's opposite number Liam Coleman converted the resultant '45 to cut the gap to four points with 29 minutes gone, and further Fermoy points followed from free-taker O'Hagan and Alan O'Connor, which made it 2-4 to 0-8 at half-time.

Kiskeam's only point in the second quarter came from David Scannell, who completed a superb move involving Gene Casey, Michael Casey, Tomás Dennehy, Sean Linehan and Adrian Carroll.

It underlined Kiskeam's ability to break from the back with speed, fluency and purpose, something that served them well when they continued to adopt a rearguard action, despite playing with the aid of the strong wind, in the second half.

It ensured that Fermoy were always going to struggle to make up the leeway, as their persistent running with the ball from deep more often than not led them into a cul-de-sac, while Kiskeam's snappy counter-attacks enabled them to keep the scoreboard ticking over when needed.

After Fermoy's heroic centre-back Tomás Clancy completed a powerful run with an inspirational point in the 39th minute, they trailed by 2-6 to 0-10, and impressive substitute Jack Hutchings gained possession from the kick-out to create a goal-chance for Padraig De Roiste.

Again Anthony Casey came to Kiskeam's rescue with a smart save, and the ball was quickly transferred to the other end of the pitch where Tom O'Sullivan pointed. That summed up the story of the second half, with Fermoy having to work extremely hard to create openings, and Kiskeam availing of their limited opportunities with the utmost efficiency..

Kiskeam were five points to the good, 2-9 to 0-10, after the excellent David Scannell slotted over a beauty in the 44th minute, and everything was going very much according to plan for their well-drilled side at that stage.

Still, Fermoy kept beavering away, reducing the gap to two points after Liam Coleman converted a free from distance in the 57th minute. But Kiskeam eased to safety on the run-in, with Gene Casey, placed by substitute Sean O'Sullivan, pushing them three ahead before substitute Billy Dennehy and Den Joe O'Sullivan combined to set AJ O'Connor up for the insurance score in stoppage time.

Scorers

Kiskeam: D Scannell 1-4 (1f), T Dennehy 1-0, G Casey 0-3, T O'Sullivan 0-2, M Casey, M Herlihy and AJ O'Connor 0-1 each

Fermoy: R O'Hagan 0-7 (6f), R O'Callaghan 0-3, L Coleman 0-2 (1f, 1'45), A O'Connor and T Clancy 0-1 each

Kiskeam: A Casey: AJ O'Connor, DJ Casey, K O'Connor; M Casey, J Dennehy, S Linehan; T Dennehy, P O'Leary; G Casey, M Herlihy, A Carroll; D Scannell, D Fitzgerald, T O'Sullivan Sub: S O'Sullivan for Carroll, 50, B Dennehy for O'Leary (injured), 60

Fermoy: L Coleman; A Bargary, S Shanahan, J Daly; B O'Sullivan, T Clancy, P Murphy; S Aherne, P De Rosite; K Morrison, R O'Callaghan, P Clancy; M Brennan, R O'Hagan, A O'Connor Subs: D O'Carroll for Aherne, 18, J Hutchings for O'Connor, ht, K Dorgan for Morrison, 49, A Aherne for Brennan, 57

Referee: M Collins (Clonakilty)

The Game in 60 seconds

Main Man

Gene Casey and Tom O'Sullivan kicked some wonderful scores for Kiskeam, Michael Herlihy, AJ O'Connor and Anthony Casey were others to make particularly generous contribution to their memorable triumph, but the top rating has to go to David Scannell, who oozed class at corner-forward.

Key Moment

Anthony Casey's second save from Padraig De Roiste prevented Fermoy from hitting the front with 20 minutes remaining, and after Tom O'Sullivan pointed at the other end seconds later, Kiskeam's advantage wasn't to be seriously threatened again.

Talking Point

They were almost relegated two seasons ago, and they were well-beaten by Na Piarsaigh in the first round this year, so there was certainly a fairy-tale dimension attached to Kiskeam's graduation to senior ranks.

Ref Watch

Experienced whistle-blower Michael Collins of Clonakilty handled the game with assurance and efficiency from start to finish.

Corkman

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