O'Shea shines as Kenmare fend off Feale
County SFC Round 3: Feale Rangers 0-12 Kenmare Shamrocks 0-17
After the crushing nature of their All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final loss to Westport back in January it would have been hard to convince even the most positive of Kenmare Shamrocks supporters that they could pick themselves up for the new campaign.
Now nearly six months later, however, the club has not only reached a County Championship quarter-final at its first attempt but also has a Senior Club Final with Dr Crokes to look forward to. Last Sunday's win over Feale Rangers was far from straight forward but there was never a real sense that the club side were in any grave danger throughout.
The district side were not at full strength but they were competitive in keeping the Shamrocks on their toes throughout. Ultimately the lack of a scoring threat other than Conor Cox came against them despite Anthony Maher's best efforts at midfield. It was Sean O'Shea's ability to handle himself at the midfield berth though that was an eye-catching feature of the club side's win.
The only real goal chance of the game came inside the opening 10 minutes, as O'Shea appeared to have put Paul O'Connor through with Keith Hughes off his line, yet Jack Maguire was brave in clearing the ball off the line and keeping the score at 0-3 to 0-1 in Kenmare's favour.
One feature of Kenmare's win was the fact their entire starting half-back line scored, Sean O'Leary and Shane O'Sullivan amongst the first half scorers as Conor Cox had two points with an O'Shea effort in between as Kenmare led by 0-9 to 0-6 at half-time. While Rangers did bring the deficit back within two during the second period, Shamrocks just seemed to have the cohesion expected of a club side in responding to their efforts. The return of Mark Crowley to competitive action since the aforementioned day in Ennis is another boost for them. He would come off the bench to hit two points at a crucial stage upon his introduction to keep them in the ascendancy.
Feale Rangers' last real surge would come with three unanswered points around the 48 minute mark. Anthony Maher scored his second as Kieran Quirke was the only other player for the North Kerry side to score on the day with the game still live at 0-13 to 0-11 after Cox's eighth point.
Again though the togetherness of the club outfit became apparent as O'Shea and O'Connor responded with points as Kevin O'Sullivan finished off a fine move for Kenmare's penultimate score.
Conor Cox might have been the game's top scorer with 0-9 (seven by way of frees) but Sean O'Shea finished with 0-7 (5f) as he put the seal on their win with the victors playing possession football to the sound of the final whistle.
With all due respect to their native district this was the first real test of Shamrocks against a seasoned divisional outfit in the county, one they came through well as they can focus on either Crokes, Rathmore, Stacks or O'Rahillys in the last eight.
For Feale Rangers while they might have gone a stage further in the competition this year, in realistic terms they are far removed the 2007 class for Bishop Moynihan honours. Jimmy Deenihan has started a conversation about the general state of play up north, maybe it's one all interested parties should be engaged in with the future in mind.
Feale Rangers: Keith Hughes (Listowel Emmets); Shane Stack (Moyvane), Jack McGuire (Emmets), Aaron O'Connor (Duagh); Ger McCarthy (Emmets), Brendan Guiney (do), Maurice Corridan (Finuge); Damien Somers (St Senans), Anthony Maher (Duagh, 0-2); Cormac Mulvihill (Emmets), David Sheehy (do), Kieran Quirke (Duagh, 0-1); Conor Cox (Emmets, 0-9, 7f) Brian Sweeney (do), Padraig Quille (St Senans). Subs: Darragh Broderick (Emmets) for Corridan (temp), Maurice Corridan for Broderick, Shane Conway (Finuge) for Sheehy, Donal Leahy (Moyvane) for Somers, Tommy McCarthy (Emmets) for Sweeney.
Kenmare Shamrocks: Kieran Fitzgibbon, Denis Cronin, Tommy O'Sullivan, Dara Crowley, Sean O'Leary (0-1), Shane O'Sullivan (0-1), Dara O'Shea (0-1), Sean O'Shea (0-7, 5f), David Hallissey, Donal O'Connor, Stephen O'Brien (0-1), Michéal McCarthy, Kevin O'Sullivan (0-1), Paul O'Connor (0-3), Brian O'Sullivan. Subs: Dean Cassidy for Hallissey, Mark Crowley (0-2) for Brian O'Sullivan, Aidan Crowley for Shane O'Sullivan, Brian Clifford for Donal O'Connor, Matt Murnane for McCarthy.
Referee: Eddie Walsh (Rathmore)
With six first choice players unavailable it was always going to be a difficult task for Feale Rangers but selector Jimmy Deenihan praised the effort of the divisional players in such circumstances.
"The absence of those players probably told in the end especially against a good cohesive club side like Kenmare. I thought their use of the sweeper worked very well for them and we didn't threaten for a goal like we did in our other matches. It's been very difficult for us to prepare with all the other matches players have had with their clubs, you can't train to the same level a club side can. Having said that the effort of the players was very whole hearted and they stuck with Kenmare as best they could," the Finuge clubman said.
Deenihan sticks by his view that there should be only one North Kerry team in the County Championship.
"I'm not saying it should be the same for all levels, I still think for Minor and U-21 that Feale Rangers and Shannon Rangers should field sides but at senior level I think there should be only one North Kerry side. It's won't guarantee that they will win the County Championship but it is a better structure for everyone to develop and improve especially if it is bought into."
Kenmare Shamrocks manager John O'Sullivan Morgan said that he is delighted with how his side are responding to each challenge they are facing as a senior side thus far.
"Ennis (All-Ireland Intermediate semi-final defeat) is in the past now but the one thing that is amazing us is how the fitness levels of the team are keeping up after nearly 18-19 months on the go. We took only a two week break after the Westport game but they are learning quickly at this level and that was a massive game for us today in terms of our development. We know it will get harder from here but we have a couple of County League games to sink our teeth into before we plan for the quarter-finals and the (Senior) Club final with Dr Crokes."