Rathmore show the requisite verve
Senior Club Group 2 Round 2: Legion 0-7 Rathmore 1-11
It was calm rather than fiery, more solid than stunning, but Rathmore's response to their eight-point defeat against Dingle was as admirable as it was unexpected.
With their championship hopes reduced to a flicker in Austin Stack Park ten days ago, many felt their dreams would quench altogether in Direen. That they trotted to the field with an unfamiliar band of starters only weakened their supporters' confidence. Instead, they left Killarney with pride, points and renewed optimism heading into their final group game - even if Dingle's win over Kenmare effectively ended their hopes of making the final.
Legion, while disappointing, weren't timid; they launched attacks from half-back continuously, leaving parts of the field as worn as a racecourse recovering from a lengthy card.
Their ills, instead, stemmed from a lack of ring-craft in facing Rathmore's defence; on the seldom occasions they weren't robbed of possession, they often drove wide from distance.
Rathmore themselves kicked four wides inside the opening ten minutes; their only score in this period came from a short-range free by Mark Reen. A pair of points by Legion's Jamie O'Sullivan, including a superb effort just in from the right wing, put his team 0-2 to 0-1 ahead - and when referee Seán Joy waved a black card at Rathmore wing-forward George O'Keeffe, this match looked set to follow pre-game predictions.
Even a one-point deficit seemed harsh on Rathmore; they'd looked the livelier team. But they went about addressing their early failings, kicking only two wides from the 10th minute onwards.
An excellent score from near the right wing by John Moynihan and a pointed free by Reen put them ahead, with Dean Fitzgerald trading points with Legion's Aidan Slattery for a 0-4 to 0-3 score-line.
Rathmore should have netted on 23 minutes when captain Shane Ryan soared to touch the ball towards goal, but Legion goalkeeper Brian Kelly threw shapes worthy of Beyoncé to parry the strike. His save was the product of instinct and string-like flexibility, but did nothing to inspire his team as they conceded further points to Moynihan and Ryan.
Rathmore lost five of their first six kick-outs; Legion's midfield pairing of Billy McGuire and Padraig Lucey took enough marks from those restarts to raise suspicion they had superglue on their fingers. But a lack of imagination by Legion's forwards in trying to open Rathmore's defence meant those kick-outs went largely unpunished, their harmless attacks leaving them 0-3 to 0-6 down at half-time.
Almost immediately upon the restart, Legion's Conor Keane accepted a pass from Peter McCarthy to boot the first point of the second half and his team-mate Jamie O'Sullivan kicked his third point after Legion's forwards pressed up on Rathmore's defence to force a short-range free.
Some 20 minutes would pass, however, before the Killarney team found the mark again - a fatal famine. A quick double from Ryan and Brian Friel made it 0-8 to 0-5, before the game's crucial play pushed the match beyond Legion. As a long punt by Reen on 46 minutes descended towards goal like a hawk, Shane Ryan - with his best impression of a man diving for a falling vase - lunged at the dipping ball and touched it to the net. It made it 1-8 to 0-5, and a cool finish to the match by Rathmore quelled any hope of a Legion fightback; a straight off-the-ball red card for home corner-back Chris Davis only eased their passage to victory.
Another long-range strike by Reen further boosted the away team's account, and while Legion countered quickly with Billy McGuire curling one over with the outside of his boot and O'Sullivan landing a '45, Rathmore looked unshakeable. Ryan and Daniel O'Sullivan points made victory certain; the straight red card flashed at Eoin Lawlor for a striking offence arrived too late to help Legion.
Legion: Brian Kelly, Cian Gammell, Danny Sheehan, Chris Davis (r/c 50 minutes), Darragh O'Doherty, Damien O'Sullivan, Jonathan Lyne, Billy McGuire (0-1), Padraig Lucey, Aidan Slattery (0-1), Finbarr Murphy, Jack O'Neill, Jamie O'Sullivan (0-4, 0-1 frees, 0-1 '45'), Conor Keane (0-1), Peter McCarthy Subs: Luke O'Donoghue for Peter McCarthy, 44, Rob Leen for Finbarr Murphy, 47, Alan Moriarty for Aidan Slattery, 47 Black Card: Sean McCarthy for Darragh O'Doherty, 63
Rathmore: Padraig McCarthy, Michael Joe Kelliher, Brendan O'Keeffe, Colm Kelly, TJ Friel, Cathal Murphy, Paul Murphy, Brian Moynihan, Daniel O'Sullivan (0-1), George O'Keeffe, Brian Friel (0-1), Mark Reen (0-3, 0-2 frees), Shane Ryan (1-3, 0-1 frees), Dean Fitzgerald (0-1), John Moynihan (0-2) Black Card: Eoin Lawlor for George O'Keeffe, 12.
Referee: Seán Joy (Laune Rangers)