Kenmare fall short to clinical and classy Tribesmen in Croker
AFTER eleven outings in an effort to claim the ultimate glory, Kenmare's heroic efforts along the way ultimately counted for little in the All-Ireland Junior club final.
They were defeated by a clinical and assured Ballinasloe side, who punished Kenmare for a lot of loose passing and slow movement on the day. It was clear from early on that Kenmare would have their work cut out for them, a long, patient period of possession from the Kerry side coming to nothing as Shane Dalton drove the ball wide inside the opening 90 seconds.
Two Darragh McCormack points settled Ballinasloe as they led after the first six minutes as their midfield duo of Liam Lynch and Luke Tierney were giving both Dalton and Jimmy Wharton plenty of problems.
Paul O'Connor ploughed a lonely furrow for most of the game, two Ballinasloe markers watching his every move, but he did have Kenmare level by the 14th minute and was unlucky not to get what would have been a morale boosting goal three minutes later when Alan O'Leary fed him the ball, but Ballinasloe goalkeeper Nathan King managed to get his fingertips to his goal-bound shot as Kenmare took the lead for the first and only time.
DJ Brennan came forward to put the Shamrocks 0-4 to 0-2 straight after, while he revelled in his 'sweeper' role against Castleknock sadly it was not working out on this occasion as they was not enough support and ball going into O'Connor to trouble Ballinasloe. Kenmare brought in both Shane Duncan and Paddy O'Dwyer for Aidan Crowley and Ritchie O'Sullivan in an effort to change things, but it was clear they were struggling to win primary possession as Ballinasloe were picking up all the breaks.
The Galway side dominated the last 10 minutes of the first-half scoring five unanswered points, the most impressive being a 30 metre run by wing-forward Darragh Burke before fisting the ball over the bar for the equaliser in the 21st minute. Gary Canavan, Padraic Cunningham and a free from Keith Kelly gave them a 0-7 to 0-4 lead at half-time with a missed chance for Mark Crowley before the half-time whistle summing up the sense of frustration for Kenmare.
It was obvious that Kenmare would need the first score or two of the second half to settle their nerves, sadly that did not come until the 43rd minute as Ballinasloe would add another four unanswered points to turn a tall order for the Kerry side into a mountain.
James Shaughnessy's 33rd minute point typified Ballinasloe's success on the day. He got out in front of a ball that seemed destined for Paul O'Connor and ran from his own half and stuck the ball over the bar as the space denied to O'Connor due to Shaughnessy's role in front of him was all too obvious to see.
Another Kelly free and a point for Paul Whelehan had Ballinasloe in total control at 0-11 to 0-4 10 minutes into the second-half with Kenmare in need of a dramatic turnaround. Sean O'Leary was fouled to give O'Connor a free, which he slotted over before Brennan, in a more advanced position, cut the deficit to five. Liam Lynch's free had the advantage back out to six, but Stanley Harrington's introduction nearly paid dividends as he stole in for a rare goal chance that Nathan King was equal to.
O'Leary and Brennan had Kenmare within four points with 10 minutes to go, but they were always chasing a losing battle. Padraic Cunningham scored his second point after a good ball into the path of Crowley had been intercepted and even though O'Connor's fifth and final point was an impressive solo effort, another free from DJ Brennan was replied with Whelehan's third point on the stroke of full-time and the Galway side were deserving four point winners.
It's the second year-in-a-row that a Galway side have won this competition, certainly indicative of a changing of the guard from the Kerry dominance in some respects, but a long 11 game run for All-Ireland glory over the last 12 months sadly came a cropper at the final hurdle for Kenmare Shamrocks.
Kenmare: Hughie Murphy, Dara Crowley, Tommy O'Sullivan, Colm O'Sullivan, Aaron O'Callaghan, Seanie O'Leary (0-1), Aidan Crowley, Shane Dalton, Jimmy Wharton, Ritchie O'Sullivan, Mark Crowley, Alan O'Leary, DJ Brennan (0-4, 3f), Paul O'Connor (0-5, 1f), Kevin O'Sullivan Subs: Shane Duncan for Aidan Crowley, Paddy O'Dwyer for Ritchie O'Sullivan, Stanley Harrington for Shane Dalton and Stephen O'Brien for Harrington
Ballinasloe: N King, E Fenton, D Nevin, J Shaughnessy (0-1), N Hynes, K Kelly (0-3, 3f), S Kenny, L Lynch (0-1, 1f), L Tierney, D Burke (0-1), P Cunningham (0-2), G Canavan (0-1), D McCormack (0-2), M Colohan, P Whelehan (0-3) Subs: C Casey for Kenny and S Cogavin for Colohan
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down)