O'Sullivan the star for victors Tarbert
IT'S too early, far too early, to start making definitive predictions about the season ahead.
Save to say that this was a fine start to the league season by Tarbert. It was by no means a perfect performance, there's more to come from their forward line for one thing, but it gave enough of an indication that they're building a nice team by the estuary.
Skellig Rangers, meanwhile, left north Kerry with more than a few regrets. They kicked at least eleven wides from scorable positions. They managed just a single point from play over the hour. Were it not for Stephen O'Sullivan's first half goal – which came against the run of play at the time – they would have been in serious trouble.
Kieran Deenihan and Kevin Enright were well on top around the middle in the first half and much of the game was played in Skellig's half of the pitch. If Tarbert had been a little more slick up front they could have built up a comfortable lead for themselves.
As it was the impressive Gerald O'Sullivan kept them ticking over, kicking two frees and one beauty from play. A nice start but nothing special either, as was proven when Skellig scored twice in practically their first two attacks – Stephen O'Sullivan from play and the impish Ciarán Keating from the placed ball.
Kerry Under 21 Keating was giving senior star Shane Enright plenty to think about in those opening exchanges. Alas, aside from O'Sullivan's goal which came after 18 mintues, Skellig didn't get enough of the ball in that part of the pitch and when they did later on they began to squander chance after chance.
It was level – 0-5 for the hosts 1-2 for the visitors – at the break. Having had the benefit of a slight breeze in the first half there was a little bit of unease amongst the Tarbert faithful that they'd missed the boat (or should we say ferry)?
They quickly showed that they hadn't. Just after the break Shane Enright – a dominant figure in the second half – powered up the pitch, passed to Andrew Doherty who took it on and in turn found Donal Leahy. Leahy made no mistake from that distance. A three point lead at the break the least they deserved.
Tarbert continued in that vein for the next ten minutes. Gerald O'Sullivan made it a four point game after 32 minutes. He had the ball in the net moments later. Deenihan sent the ball into the danger area, Andrew Doherty broke it down and O'Sullivan powered forward and struck sweetly for goal.
There wasn't much hope for Skellig at that point. Not the way they were playing. Even as they gradually improved their position around the middle, getting on ball and pushing forward they continued to squander chance after chance. It took until the 50th minute for them to get on the scoreboard in the second half – a free from substitute Bernard Casey.
Tarbert getting a little nervous now retreated into their shell. Two further points from Casey frees brought them to within four. He even had a chance to make it three, but missed. Tarbert rallied. O'Sullivan pointed. Then Andrew Doherty.
The hosts were safe. They deserved it. They just made it a little harder for themselves than they should have.
Tarbert: Shane O'Connor, Jason Wren, Kevin Wren, Daniel O'Connor, Ian Flavin, Shane Enright (0-1), Danny Wren, Kieran Deenihan, Kevin Enright, Micheál Carrig, Gerald O'Sullivan, David Langan, Andrew, Doherty (0-2), Donal Leahy (1-0), John Kelliher (0-1) Subs: Jack Finucane for D O'Connor, Sean Carrig for D Langan, John O'Connell for M Carrig Black cards: Brian Heaphy for I Flavin, D O'Connor for J Wren
Skellig Rangers: Padraig O'Sullivan, Brian O'Sullivan, Seamus O'Sullivan, Stephen O'Sullivan, Anthony O'Driscoll, Bernard Walsh, Brian Murphy, Alan Devane, Aidan Dash O'Sullivan, Ronan O'Shea, Ciarán Keating (0-1f), Brendan O'Sullivan, Diarmuid Keating, Stephen O'Sullivan (1-1), Sean Courtney Subs: Bernard Casey (0-3f) for B O'Sullivan, Brian Hickey for D Keating
Referee: Ger Lynch (Ballymacelligott)