Sean O’Shea drags Kenmare back from the brink after Stephen O’Brien was sent off after 28 minutes
KERRY PETROLEUM SENIOR CLUB FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP A ROUND 2
Kenmare Shamrocks 1-14
Spa have taken control of Group A after a draw against Kenmare Shamrocks puts the Killarney club top of the table, but nothing will be decided in this group until everything is decided next weekend, and Spa may yet rue conceding a late point to Griffin Wharton, which keeps Kenmare Shamrocks very much in contention to secure a semi-final place.
Wharton popped up in the closing seconds of this engaging contest in Spa to punch an equalising point for the visiting team and keep Kenmare in the hunt for a semi-final spot despite them propping up the table with just one point after two games.
On two occasions Spa left two decent leads evaporate in the second half, and though they still have qualification to the semi-finals in their own hands, they really should have got the job done on Saturday evening against a Kenmare Shamrocks side that was led by the excellent Sean O’Shea who scored nine points, including three from play.
Kenmare will, no doubt, be the happier of the teams given that they played all of the second half without their Kerry talisman Stephen O’Brien who was sent off in the 28th minute after receiving a second yellow card – though the Shamrocks will be far from happy with what they will consider a harsh second booking for O’Brien. The Kerry forward was caught up in an off the ball incident that involved a coming together with his Spa opponent, but the general consensus was that O'Brien was unfortunate to be censured for a minor and somewhat harmless matter.
In what was a tough, uncompromising but sporting game, Kenmare were a more cohesive and purposeful team that the one that lost to Na gaeil the previous weekend, and they took an early 0-2 to 0-0 lead with points from James McCarthy and Seanie O’Shea.
Spa – taking confidence from their first round win over Dingle – settled into their business with Liam Kearney a driving presence at midfield, and Evan and Shane Cronin leading the charge, though further points from O’Shea (2) and O’Brien had the visitors leading 0-5 to 0-2 at the water break.
The second quarter was dominated by Spa, and points from David Spillane (2), Cian Murphy, Mike Foley, Shane Cronin and Evan Cronin, they took a 0-8 to 0-6 lead to half time, with Sean O’Shea scoring his fourth point for Kenmare.
O’Brien’s dismissal robbed Kenmare of a cutting edge in attack, and saw them more players into a deeper formation to counter-attack Spa’s extra player, as Kearney continue to dictate matters at midfield for the home side. By the second water break Spa were in a dominant position, leading 0-14 to 0-9 thanks to scores from Kearney and two each from David Spillane and Evan Cronin.
O’Shea continued to be a huge presence for Kenmare, with his free taking keeping his team in contention, while a Paul O'Connor point cut the margin to three as the visitors drew on all their reserves in a game they simply could not lose.
By the 57th minute Spa were still four clear, 0-16 to 0-12, and odds on to see out the game with a win, but they fluffed a couple of easy scoring chances to put further daylight between the sides.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Kenmare kept working hard against a Spa team – without Dara Moynihan – now coming under increasing pressure, and the visitors got due reward in the 59th minute when Tommy O’Sullivan – redeployed from the Kenmare defence to the edge of the Spa goal gathered a high ball in and smashed it past James Devane to cut the margin to the minimum, 0-16 to 1-12.
The playing numbers were evened up when Spa full forward Mike Foley was dismissed for a second yellow card, and just as the game clock rolled past the hour Sean O’Shea converted a free to level the game.
Back came Spa, with Even Cronin converting a free that looked like it was the winner, but there was one final twist in an fascinating contest as Wharton rose best in a thicket of bodies to slap Paul O’Connor’s dropping ball over the bar to snatch a well deserved draw for Kenmare.
Spa will be cross with themselves for coughing up a four-point lead so late in the game, especially with O’Brien out of the game, and the result leaves the group wide open with Spa going to Na Gaeil and Kenmare hosting Dingle with all four teams still with a chance of securing a semi-final place.
SPA: James Devane, Eric O’Donoghue, Dan O’Donoghue, Eoin Fitzgerald, Shane Lynch, Shane Cronin 0-2 (1 ‘45’), Gary Vaughan, Liam Kearney 0-1, Ciaran Spillane 0-1, Ryan Carroll, Evan Cronin 0-5 (1f), Conor Stack, Cian Murphy 0-2, Mike Foley 0-2 (1f), David Spillane 0-4. Subs: Mike O’Donoghue for C Stack (50), Cian Tobin for C Murphy (53), Liam Spillane for S Lynch (58), Brian Lynch for E O’Donoghue (60+4)
KENMARE SHAMROCKS: Kieran Fitzgibbon, Tommy Cronin, Tommy O’Sullivan 1-0, David Cronin, Dara O’Shea, James McCarthy 0-2 (1m), Jamie O’Regan, David Hallissey, Seanie O’Shea 0-9 (5f, 1m), Shane O’Sullivan, Kevin O’Sullivan, Stephen O’Brien 0-1, Griffin Wharton 0-1, Tommy A O’Sullivan, Paul O’Connor 0-1. Subs: David Ciuciu for Griffin Wharton (39), Jimmy Lehane for T O’Sullivan (Atlantic) (50), Griffin Wharton for K O’Sullivan (54), Ruairi O’Sullivan for J O’Regan (54), Pearse O’Brien for J McCarthy (56).
Referee: Tom Corbett (Firies)