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Austin Stacks dump out champions East Kerry in fully deserved but nervous win

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Kieran Donaghy, who was making a club record 60th appearance for Stacks today, in action against East Kerry this evening in Austin Stack Park, Tralee. Photo by Domnick Walsh

Kieran Donaghy, who was making a club record 60th appearance for Stacks today, in action against East Kerry this evening in Austin Stack Park, Tralee. Photo by Domnick Walsh

Kieran Donaghy, who was making a club record 60th appearance for Stacks today, in action against East Kerry this evening in Austin Stack Park, Tralee. Photo by Domnick Walsh

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GARVEY’S COUNTY SFC – ROUND 1

Austin Stacks 1-7

East Kerry 1-5

East Kerry’s three-in-a-row dream is dead after they were beaten by Austin Stacks in a largely underwhelming county SFC first round game, the quality of which won’t bother the Tralee club in the slightest.

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This contest was headed for a comprehensive Stacks win until eight incident-laden minutes of additional time when East Kerry scored a goal and a point to cut what would have been a six-point hammering to a two-point loss; but make no mistake, Stacks were streets ahead in this game.

It is no stretch to say the defending champions were flattered by the result, and had Stacks brought any degree of accuracy to their finishing they might have won by double figures. They didn’t, of course, and that will be one of the key ‘work-ons’ for the week ahead of a quarter-final next weekend.

This was the Stacks show from start to finish, but the Rockies’ inability to capitalise on their majority possession and many chances always left the door open for East Kerry, and they almost fell through it at the end, which was bitter.

The champions finished with 13 men on the field. David Clifford – who was superbly curtailed by the Stacks defence – saw a second yellow and subsequent red card for an off the ball incident, and he joined Niall Donohue in the dug-out after the Firies defender was dismissed earlier in the half.

It was that kind of frustrating night for East Kerry. As the weather deteriorated so too did East Kerry’s game plan, for what it was in the first place. Much of the pre-match chatter wondered if the champions would be undercooked and simply not hot-housed and primed to take on the one club team many believed could beat them at this early stage of the championship.

Stacks – who were without manager Wayne Quillinan on the sideline – were the form club in the county and certainly had their work done on the training field. They came with a plan, which was more to curtail the champions than to shoot the floodlights out themselves, and so it transpired. Not that Stacks didn’t have their chances to put this game well beyond East Kerry long before those dramatic final few minutes.

The first half was as much a story of what Stacks missed as what they scored: a conservative count would be two goals and four points left behind them in the first 31 minutes.

Kieran Donaghy – making a record 60th county SFC appearance for his club – did all the hard work in the 10th minute to gather Shane O’Callaghan’s pass and round Brendan Kealy, but he couldn’t quite wrap his left foot around the ball and his shot came back off the knuckle of the post and the crossbar.

Nine minutes later Donaghy collected a long pass from Conor Jordan and drew the East Kerry defence before teeing up O’Callaghan for what looked a simple slap into the goal, but Paul Murphy made a goal line block just as the umpire seemed ready to reach for the green flag.

Two early Fiachna Mangan points helped Stacks to a 0-3 to 0-1 lead at the water break, and at half time it was 0-5 to 0-2 to the Tralee side, David Clifford and Darragh Roche mining East Kerry’s scores from free kicks.

The third quarter was no better in terms of expansive play or shooting accuracy, as Stacks policy of defending in numbers and counter-attacking quickly was still working for them. By the second water break Stacks were 1-6 to 0-2 ahead and looking a safe bet by then to advance. As the game headed past the 60th minute it looked no better for the champions; down Donohue by then and still with just four points to their credit, and incredibly nothing from play.

The four signalled additional minutes had elapsed when sub Paul O’Shea smashed in an East Kerry goal, and a wayward Stacks kick-out almost presented Paudie Clifford the chance of another but he could only muster a point.

Stacks were wobbling at the end but they got there.

On the day the East Kerry minor team won a sixth consecutive county title, their senior team crashed out of the county championship at the first hurdle. It was an ignominious end to a near three-year reign.

There will be no three-in-a-row for East Kerry now, but who’d bet against a one-in-a-row for Stacks?

AUSTIN STACKS: Wayne Guthrie 0-1 ‘45’, Colin Griffin, Dylan Casey 0-1, Jack O’Shea 0-2, Paul O’Sullivan, Conor Jordan, Ronan Shanahan, Joseph O’Connor 1-0, Greg Horan, Michael O’Gara, Fiachna Mangan 0-2, Armin Heinrich, Michael O’Donnell, Kieran Donaghy 0-1, Shane O’Callaghan. Subs: Sean Quilter for M O’Donnell (38), Darragh O’Brien for S O’Callaghan (49), Barry Shanahan for G Horan (56), Adam Curran for F Mangan (58), Donagh McMahon for J O’Shea (63) 

EAST KERRY: Brendan Kealy (Kilcummin), Niall Donohue (Firies), Chris O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), Pa Warren (Gneeveguilla), Daniel O’Brien (Glenflesk), Jack Sherwood (Firies), Brendan O’Keeffe (Rathmore), Mark Ryan (Rathmore), Ronan Buckley (Listry), Paul Murphy (Rathmore), Paudie Clifford 0-2 (1 ‘45’) (Fossa), Kevin McCarthy (Kilcummin), David Clifford 0-2 (f) (Fossa), Darragh Roche 0-1 (f) (Glenflesk), Patrick Darcy (Glenflesk). Subs: Donal O’Sullivan (Kilgarvan) for P Darcy (40), Darragh Rahilly (Rathmore) for B O’Keeffe (44), Kieran Murphy (Kilcummin) for M Ryan (44), Paul O’Shea 1-0 (Kilcummin) for K McCarthy (49), Brian O’Donoghue (Glenflesk) for R Buckley (61).

Referee: Brendan Griffin (Clounmacon) 


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