East Kerry minors make it four championships in a row

County MFC Final - East Kerry 3-10, St Brendans 0-13

Jason O'Connor

A fourth consecutive County Minor title for East Kerry and a fifth in total for the decade was won on Tuesday last week in Austin Stack Park as they defeated St Brendans for the second time in three years in a decider.

Although without Killarney Legion and Rathmore in this campaign, the district had won all four of their matches on their way to last Tuesday night week. They accounted for South Kerry and Austin Stacks in the Group Stages before a win over Mid Kerry in the quarter-finals and a second win over Stacks in the semi-finals.

Three goals, all set up by Man-of-the-Match Dylan O'Callaghan, were the difference between them and a dogged St Brendans effort on the night as both sides shared 13 scores apiece. St Brendans had come through one of the four team groups in the Round Robin as despite losing to Laune Rangers they advanced to the quarter-finals following victories over both Dr Crokes and Legion. They would subsequently defeated Kenmare District and then got the better of Rathmore in the other Semi-Final.

As well as East Kerry's goals, some important saves from East Kerry goalkeeper Keith O'Leary denied Brendans victory as both sides struggled in difficult conditions. St Brendans took the early lead on the scoreboard, but O'Callaghan set Kerry Minor Emmet O'Shea up for East Kerry's first goal in the seventh minute and a 1-1 to 0-2 advantage. It took a great save from O'Shea's inter-county team-mate Devon Burns to stop another from Patrick D'Arcy going in soon after as the game was level after 13 minutes at 1-2 to 0-5 following a Conor Hayes point for St Brendans.

Three frees from O'Shea had East Kerry back in front but Fergal O'Brien and Nathan O'Driscoll were keeping St Brendans within range as the latter responded to a point from last year's All-Ireland Minor winning captain Paul O'Shea for East Kerry in making it 1-6 to 0-8 at the break to the holders.

O'Brien levelled matters after the restart but the first of O'Leary's key saves came from St Brendans Dara Courtney as East Kerry captain Owen Fitzgerald cleared the rebound to safety. Oisín Maunsell made an important block on Emmet O'Shea at the other end as the match was level at 1-9 to 0-12 around the three-quarter mark following another O'Driscoll point for St Brendans as it looked to be set-up for a thrilling finish.

Then came the decisive period that ensured the Frank King Cup would stay in East Kerry's hands, two goals without reply in almost the blink of an eye! O'Callaghan was the provider to substitute Aaron Flynn for the second East Kerry goal in the 47th minute as he found himself in possession of the ball again after the restart and this time Ruairi Murphy was the beneficiary of a pass that led to a third goal for East Kerry and a lead of 3-10 to 0-12. Both goals took the life out of the game as St Brendans really had no response from there except for a sixth point for O'Driscoll in an impressive personal display.

Although other East Kerry wins in the previous three years might have been put down to the sheer volume of clubs available to them, this success was perhaps more notable having two big providers of underage footballers to Kerry in recent years in Rathmore and Legion not available too them. Despite the loss St Brendans can reflect on a strong and competitive year at Minor Football level with their 2012 success over Kenmare District alongside reaching two of the last three Finals.

The decade belongs to the eastern half of the county in the competition however, not just with the district's own five wins but also with Kilcummin's win in 2010 as West Kerry (2011) and Dingle (2014 and 2015) were the only other sides to win the Frank King Cup this decade.

East Kerry: Keith O'Leary (Kilcummin); Caolan Ryan (Listry), Owen Fitzgerald (Gneeveguilla), Brian O'Leary (Firies); Eoghan O'Rahilly (Gneeveguilla), Eoin Talbot (Fossa), Ruairi Doyle (do); Paul O'Shea (Kilcummin, 0-1), Ronan Collins (Gneeveguilla), Dylan O'Callaghan (Firies, 0-1), Darragh Donohoe (do), Ruairi Murphy (Listry, 1-1), Paul O'Leary (Gneeveguilla), Patrick D'Arcy (Glenflesk, 0-2), Emmet O'Shea (Fossa, 1-5, 5f). Subs: Aaron Flynn (Firies, 1-0) for Donohoe, Phillip O'Leary (Kilcummin) for Murphy, Damien Cronin (Gneeveguilla) for B O'Leary, Cian Doe (Firies) for O'Callaghan.

St Brendans: Devon Burns (Na Gaeil); Stephen Bowler (John Mitchels), Ruairi O'Sullivan (Na Gaeil), Padraig White (John Mitchels), Enda O'Connor (Na Gaeil), Kevin O'Connor (Churchill), Oisín Maunsell (Na Gaeil); Tomás Ó hAiniféin (do), Joe Lenihan (Churchill); Dara Courtney (Ardfert), Dara Reen (Na Gaeil), Jack Sheehan (do); Fergal O'Brien (St Pats Blennerville, 0-4, 2f), Nathan O'Driscoll (Ardfert, 0-6, 4f), Conor Hayes (Kerins O'Rahillys, 0-3).Subs: Daniel Bowler (Kerins O'Rahillys) for Reen, Conor O'Sullivan (do) for Sheehan, Darragh Sullivan (Churchill) for Courtney and Damien Doherty (do) for O'Brien.

Referee: Tom McCarthy (Desmonds)