Barry O’Sullivan’s late point gets mediocre Dingle over the winning line as Tom O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney contribute two points each
COUNTY SENIOR CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP A ROUND 2
Na Gaeil 2-6
They certainly don’t do things the easy way, putting their supporters through the mill big-time in the closing stages, but Dingle will be satisfied and very much relieved to have bounced back with a victory in the Kerry Petroleum Senior Club Football Championship on Saturday evening.
Coming into this Group A encounter with a buoyant Na Gaeil (fresh from their memorable debut win over Kenmare Shamrocks last weekend), the hosts at Pairc an Aghasaigh were virtually in the last chance saloon after their opening reversal to Spa. They simply had to stand up and be counted.
In the end, after blowing a five-point cushion in the early stages of the second half, conceding two goals in an action-packed third quarter, Padraig Corcoran’s charges showed enough resilience and never-say-die attitude to pip their opponents at the post in an error-prone and extremely nervy finale.
Barry O’Sullivan’s pointed free in the 58th minute proved to be the difference between the protagonists at the final whistle, but Dingle’s game management (or lack of it) had their backroom team tearing their hair out in the closing minutes as they just could not keep possession and run down the clock.
Na Gaeil, for their part, kept persevering to the finish, continued to turn over their opponents when the ball was brought into contact, but the lack of real attacking punch all night would ultimately lead to their downfall. They definitely had their chances to eke out a draw, or even better, but it wasn’t to be.
In the heel of the hunt, it was Gavin Curran’s point-blank save from Na Gaeil substitute Dan Goggin as the contest ticked into second half added time that proved to be the game’s crucial moment. Dara Reen’s up and under didn’t look threatening, but when the ball broke to Goggin, his eyes lit up, Curran spreading himself well to concede a ‘45’.
While opposing goalkeeper Devon Burns was wide from the resultant dead ball, the Tralee outfit still had two more opportunities to resurrect their situation, but Kerry midfield stars Diarmuid O’Connor and Jack Barry were the wasteful parties this time, the former shooting wide from long range, the latter having his last-gasp effort half-blocked into the welcoming arms of Dingle’s Darragh O’Sullivan.
A disappointing first half never set the pulses racing, with Dingle retiring at the break with a one-point advantage, 0-5 to 0-4, after an opening 30 minutes where the shooting accuracy from both sides was not what the doctor ordered (13 wides summing up the poor quality on offer).
Things had to improve on the resumption, and within 35 seconds, Ruan McCarthy had the ball in the Na Gaeil net, coolly slotting home the rebound, soccer-style, after Paul Geaney had evaded the clutches of Niall O’Mahony to strike a left-footed effort that was parried by Burns into the goalscorer’s path.
When George Durrant added a point from a mark, the hosts were five points to the good, 1-6 to 0-4, and with the pendulum swinging in their favour. Billy O’Connor was battling away manfully against Jack Barry, while Diarmuid O’Connor was being shadowed by Tom O’Sullivan every time he attempted to go on a trademark swashbuckling run.
Na Gaeil were teetering on the brink. They needed inspiration, and it was corner-forward Jack Sheehan that provided it. Found with an astute pass by Goggin, the number 15 turned inside his man and, under severe pressure, he let rip with a stunning left-footed missile to the top corner of the Dingle net. Game on again.
Now we were being treated to some serious entertainment. Dingle were next to threaten to raise another green flag, Paul Geaney putting Dylan Geaney in on goal, but his left-footed rocket from close range was magnificently tipped over the bar by a combination of Burns and Na Gaeil wing-forward James O’Connor.
Following his heroics at one end, the latter took centre stage at the other end in the 39th minute when, after Curran was penalised for delaying a kick-out, Jack Barry flicked the hop ball into the path of the unmarked O’Connor, and with a deft flick over the advancing Dingle netminder, the sides were at parity, 1-7 to 2-4, after a spell-binding period of attacking sorcery.
Alas, the final quarter regressed badly to more of what we had endured in the first half, with only three scores recorded (all from frees), but that won’t bother Dingle in the slightest this week. When their backs were firmly against the wall, they, just about, came up trumps. Round 3 in this group next weekend will be very interesting indeed.
DINGLE: Gavin Curran; Michael Flannery, Darragh O’Sullivan, Niall Geaney; Conor Flannery, Padraig O’Connor, Mikey Geaney; Barry O’Sullivan 0-3 (1m, 1f), Billy O’Connor 0-1; George Durrant 0-1(m), Tom O’Sullivan 0-2 (1f), Padraig Sheehy; Dylan Geaney 0-1, Paul Geaney 0-2 (1f), Ruan McCarthy 1-0. Subs: Matthew Flaherty for Sheehy (47 mins), Cathal Bambury for D Geaney (50 mins), Tadhg de Brun for McCarthy (54 mins), Brian Devane for Durrant (59 mins).
NA GAEIL: Devon Burns; Enda O’Connor, Niall O’Mahony, Luke Barrett; Fergal Barry, Eoin Doody, Jack Doyle; Diarmuid O’Connor 0-3 (f), Jack Barry; Kieran O’Donovan 0-1, Dara Reen, James O’Connor 1-0; Jack Bourke 0-1 (m), Dan O’Connor, Jack Sheehan 1-1. Subs: Dan Goggin for Dan O’Connor (ht), Damien Bourke for O’Donovan (47 mins), Sean O’Connor for Doody (56 mins).
REFEREE: Billy O’Shea (Keel).