Heavyweight billing turns into lightweight affair as South Kerry easily dismiss Dingle

County SFC Round 3: Dingle 0-10 South Kerry 1-13

Dan Kearney

This was billed as the heavyweight contest - the clash of two genuine county championship contenders with all of the blockbuster names involved. The reality was somewhat different, however, as the game turned out to be a pretty tame affair with South Kerry having that bit of extra guile and craft that Dingle lacked.

Ronan Hussey's goal from the penalty spot for South Kerry in the 59th minute of the game effectively finished the contest. The penalty came after Paul O'Donoghue was taken down by Dingle goalkeeper Gavin Curran in the large parallelogram, and Hussey shot low and hard to Curran's left hand side. The goal put South Kerry seven points ahead and effectively killed any chance of a Dingle comeback at that late stage of the game.

South Kerry assigned Mark Griffin to mark Paul Geaney, while Killian Young was given the task of looking after Mikey Geaney. It would be fair to say that the South Kerry got their match-ups spot on with Griffin restricting Paul Geaney to one point from play, and Young turning in a man of the match performance. With their two big guns struggling, and Conor Geaney unavailable for selection, the Dingle attack didn't function with any great cohesion and they found it very difficult to find scores.

The South Kerry attack was livelier and Ronan Hussey proved to be an excellent target man. Hussey finished with a goal and five points, but his biggest contribution was his ability to bring others into the game.

South Kerry came out of the blocks with all guns blazing and by 20 minutes led by 0-6 points to 0-1. Dingle did score first with a super effort from Brendan Kelliher after just 53 seconds, but thereafter it was South Kerry that dominated. Bryan Sheehan struck an audacious effort from 45 metres over his left shoulder after four minutes to equalise, but he had to leave the field immediately afterwards through injury. Sheehan had damaged his ribs in a training incident on Thursday night and South Kerry manager William Harmon admitted after the game that it was a gamble to start him.

The southern lads made light of his loss however and rattled over five points in a row after the St Mary's man was forced to leave. Points from the livewire Ian Galvin, Ronan Hussey with two free kicks and one from play, and Paul O'Donoghue, gave them a healthy five-point lead as the Dingle lads struggled to get any kind of pattern going in their play.

Dingle midfielder Barry O'Sullivan should have goaled in the 14th minute when he shot harmlessly wide with the goal at his mercy, after a good move involving Mikey O'Boyle and Tom O'Sullivan. A goal at that stage would have drawn Dingle level at 1-1 to 0-4 and we might have seen a different type of game thereafter. Paul Geaney had a similar chance soon afterwards but a South Kerry defender forced his scuffed shot out for a '45' which they subsequently put wide.

In fairness to the Dingle lads they did grow into the game from the 20th minute on, and with Barry O'Sullivan starting to get his hands on ball around the middle of the field, Paul Geaney pointed 3 free kicks in a row to bring them to within two points of their opponents at the half time whistle, 0-6 to 0-4.

Whatever was said in the Dingle dressing room at half time worked, and five minutes into the second half the sides were level. Another Paul Geaney free kick and an excellent effort from Darragh O'Sullivan tied the game at 0-6 points each. Ronan Hussey pushed South Kerry one ahead once more but straight afterwards Paul Geaney scored from play to level the game at 0-7 each. It was around this period of the game that Killian Young, ably assisted by midfielder Brendan O'Sullivan, really began to power into the game. Young went on a surging run through the middle and Paul O'Donoghue pointed a free kick after he was fouled. Ian Galvin slotted over his second point of the game after a Barry Dwyer pass and South Kerry now led by 0-9 to 0-7 with 40 minutes gone.

Cathal Bambury brought the game back to one with a good point from play but South Kerry responded with points of their own from Graham O'Sullivan and a Paul O'Donoghue '45' to push them three ahead once more. The South Kerry backs were dogged and resilient and the Dingle forwards were finding it very difficult to penetrate the South Kerry rearguard with corner back Fionan Clifford leading the way with an inspirational block in the 42nd minute. Credit to Dingle though as they kept plugging away and they were rewarded with Darragh O'Sullivan's second point of the game on 51 minutes to bring the game back to two points.

Another Hussey free kick and a brilliant point from Young pushed South Kerry four ahead. Hussey then slotted home the penalty in the 59th minute, and it really was lights out for Dingle at that stage.

Mikey Geaney did slot over the bar in added time but it was too little too late for Dingle as the South Kerry deservedly advanced to the quarter-finals.

South Kerry: Padraig O'Sullivan, Paul O'Sullivan, Mark Griffin, Fionan Clifford, Robert Wharton, Oran Clifford, Killian Young (0-1), Bryan Sheehan (0-1), Brendan O'Sullivan, John Curran, Paul O'Donoghue (0-3; 1f, 1 '45'), Conor O'Shea, Barry Dwyer, Ronan Hussey (1-5; 3f, 1-0 pen), Ian Galvin (0-2). Subs: Graham O'Sullivan (0-1) for B Sheehan (4 mins), Brian Sugrue for R Wharton (h/t), Anthony Cournane for B Dwyer (49 mins), Bernard Walsh for P O'Donoghue (60 mins), Darragh Scanlan for Paul O'Sullivan (60 mins).

Dingle: Gavin Curran, Tom Leo O'Sullivan, Micheal Flannery, Patrick O'Connor, Aiden O'Connor, Breandán Kelliher (0-1), Tom O'Sullivan, Barry O'Sullivan, Darragh O'Sullivan (0-2), Paul Devane, Mikey Geaney (0-1f), Mikey O'Boyle, Cathal Bambury (0-1), Paul Geaney (0-5; 4f), Tomás Sheehy. Subs: Gareth Brosnan for T Sheehy (49 min), Tom B Brosnan for M Flannery (55 min).

Referee: Sean Joy (Laune Rangers)


South Kerry manager William Harmon was understandably buoyant after seeing his depleted side emerge victorious.

"We are delighted, we lost the quarter final to Dingle last year so I suppose that gave us the motivation to go one better today. We were down a number of players for various reasons and I think that especially in the second half there were some phenomenal performances from our lads.

"Even the fellas that came off the bench were exceptional. It's great to be in the quarter final, but I suppose a quarter final is all that we are in but still, we are delighted to be there. We were down about 10 players today but hopefully we will have a few extra lads back for the next round."

Dingle manager Paul Fitzmaurice was too devastated to talk after the game. His side had gone into the game with high hopes and expectations of going further in the competition but they just didn't perform to their capabilities on the day.