Kilcummin win a classic to bounce back straight away

County IFC Final: Kilcummin 4-13 Glenflesk 2-13

Damian Stack, Austin Stack Park, Tralee

Now that's how it's done. That's how you shrug off the disappointment of relegation and embrace a new set of circumstances.

Less than a year after their relegation to the grade - the relegation play-off was played before last year's County Senior Football Final in the same venue just last October - Kilcummin stand as the champions of it. That's the very definition of bouncebackability.

It's a remarkable achievement by Willie Maher and his side to have done what nobody else has done in the modern era. Kilcummin attacked this championship with a fresh enthusiasm and a vigour and stormed their way to the title.

Last Sunday's final was the crowning achievement of a brilliant run for the club and it was only fitting that the game was such a classic encounter. Much like the game which preceded it, it had a little bit of everything.

Goals galore. Blocks and tackles and last minute interventions. Leads and comebacks and nerves of steel to finish off the job. It was game where either team could easily have lost their heads, it says a lot that neither side did.

The day was undoubtedly Kilcummin's, but Glenflesk contributed handsomely to a remarkable day for football in Austin Stack Park. The opening fifteen minutes would have been enough to sink a lesser team, it would have been enough to sink the vast majority of teams as a matter of fact and, yet, Glenflesk never once dropped their heads.

Kilcummin started like a whirlwind. Just two minutes in Seán O'Leary - taking a pass from the ever alert Noel Duggan - slammed the ball to the back of Roy Kelliher's net with real ferocity.

Glenflesk did respond through Cian Horan - taking advantage of a turnover - but Kilcummin were clearly the dominant force at this stage in the match. Points from Shane McSweeney (assist Gary O'Leary), Kevin McCarthy and Duggan (a free) followed before the East Kerry outfit goaled for a second time.

Just a few minutes after McSweeney flashed an effort at goal just wide - Kilcummin were rampant at the time - Duggan assisted McCarthy (who evaded the attentions of Chris O'Donoghue) for yet another goal.

Glenflesk did manage a point through Michael O'Shea before Kilcummin got in for their third goal. Once again the somewhat underrated Duggan provided the assist, this time to Pádraig Nagle who made no mistake with his finish. Fifteen minutes gone, Kilcummin 3-3, Glenflesk 0-2.

With that a lot of us watching on felt that was that. Kilcummin's ten point advantage looked all but insurmountable, all the day's drama would surely be confined to the curtain-raiser.

If so Glenflesk hadn't read the script. In response to Nagle's goal they scored 1-3 of their own unanswered - 1-2 of that from the excellent Darragh Roche, assist Lee O'Donoghue for the goal, with a point from first half sub Jamie O'Donoghue - to make the game a competitive proposition again.

By the time the half-time whistle came around Glenflesk had managed to whittle that lead down a little further, it stood at three at the break 3-5 to 1-8, with any fears that this final might turn out to be a damp squib comprehensively debunked.

Glenflesk were sure to be on a high as they made their way down the tunnel at the break. Kilcummin, meanwhile, had to have had mixed emotions. Despite all they'd done they were still in a game, despite all they'd done Glenflesk were still very much alive.

On the positive side Kilcummin had showed a capacity to score goals - both teams in fact had further chances for goals in the five minutes before the break - even so Glenflesk weren't going away.

A lead that once stood at ten was now three and soon enough would be wiped out completely when Glenflesk started the second half with real intent. A point from Brian O'Donoghue (assist Lee O'Donoghue) got them up and running.

Four minutes in the game was blown apart completely when Lee O'Donoghue assisted Darragh Roche for a chance at goal. With plenty to do and with one of the best keepers in the country between the sticks for the opposition, Roche still had it all to do, but do it he did. Glenflesk in front 2-9 to 3-5.

It was some turnaround. At ten points down Denis Reen's men kept their cool. That was now Kilcummin's challenge. Could they be as cool under pressure as their rivals?

They could, largely thanks the instant intervention of their star man, Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy responded straight away and Kilcummin quickly got back on an even keel.

With Kilcummin scoring three on the bounce to retake their lead - 2-9 to 3-8 - Glenflesk lost midfielder Kieran Murphy to a black card, but carried on regardless levelling the game back up by the forty third minute with a Lee O'Donoghue point.

By the forty seventh minute it was a three point game again following a couple of points by McCarthy - by now really stamping his authority on the game - and a free by Duggan.

What followed was a five minute spell that could have won this title for Glenflesk. They had three clear-cut goal scoring opportunities between the forty eighth and fifty second minutes and took none of them.

The first chance for Lee O'Donoghue was saved brilliantly and sent out for a forty five by Brendan Kealy. The second, coming from that forty five, was saved on the line by Kevin Gorman from Darragh O'Roche (who collected Jeff O'Donoghue's effort) and the final one was driven wide from the penalty spot.

The penalty was earned when Ian Roche passed to Michael O'Shea and he was hauled down by Chris O'Leary (lucky not to pick up a black card for his troubles). Darragh Roche stepped up, but drove the ball wide on the left hand side into the Mitchels' end.

Glenflesk did soon after get a point through Daniel O'Brien to make it a two point game again with six minutes on the clock - 2-12 to 3-11 - but it was scant consolation, especially when Kilcummin struck for their fourth goal seconds later through Seán O'Leary (assist McSweeney).

This time that really was that. Stephen O'Donoghue did hit the side-netting for Glenflesk on fifty five minutes, but it was clear Kilcummin weren't going to let it slip this time around.

Deserving winners of a riveting game on a perfect day for football.

Kerryman

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