Slicker Kierans make it through

County SFC Qualifier Round - St Kierans 2-11, Feale Rangers 0-8

Edmund Breen, St Kierans, looks to take the ball past Paudie Quille, Feale Rangers, in their County SFC Qualifier Round match in Austin Stack Park, Tralee. Photo by Domnick Walsh
Edmund Breen, St Kierans, looks to take the ball past Paudie Quille, Feale Rangers, in their County SFC Qualifier Round match in Austin Stack Park, Tralee. Photo by Domnick Walsh

Timmy Sheehan at Austin Stack Park

Two goals early in the second half provided the basis for what was, in the end, a pretty comfortable and fully deserved victory for St Kierans in the qualifier round in this year's County Senior Football Championship played in the Austin Stack Park last Thursday evening.

Overall, it was a pretty indifferent performance from them, but it was still sufficient against a Feale Rangers combination, who after a pretty promising first half showing fell far short throughout all of the second and, while they had some scoring opportunities to keep their challenge intact, they were unable to capitalise and with eight points separating the teams going into the fourth and final quarter the end result was essentially a foregone conclusion long before the final whistle.

Scores were largely at a premium for long periods of the first half, which was a reflection of the impact of both defensive units, with Pádraig Reidy in particular outstanding for St Kierans in terms of coping with the threat posed by Conor Cox who kicked the very first score of the game inside the opening minute of play.

After Adam Barry who was impressive throughout had kicked the equaliser for St Kierans three minutes later, they subsequently went ahead and led by the bare minimum 0-3 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter.

Seamus Scanlon was seen to good effect for them in midfield up until this particular juncture as indeed was Anthony Maher, on occasion for Feale Rangers. Scanlon's point in the twenty second minute maintained a slender one point advantage in favour of St Kierans, a lead which was doubled 0-5 0-3 by Adam Barry in the twenty third minute.

However, Feale Rangers finished the half much stronger and kicked three unanswered points to lead by a point 0-6 0-5 at the half-time break. With the aid of the breeze to follow in the second half they looked, at that stage to be in a pretty good position in terms of negotiating this particular hurdle, given the fact also that St Kierans didn't offer an awful lot in attack in that first half, which was due to a large extent to the resolve and resilience of the Feale Rangers defence.

However, within four minutes of the restart the encounter had taken a dramatic twist. A foul on Aidan Breen in the very first minute resulted in a penalty being awarded, which was converted by Edmund Walsh.

It was an opportunity which presented itself from a lofted delivery, aimed at a score, which fell short and wasn't really dealt with by the Feale Rangers defence. Given the timing of it, it afforded St Kierans a real boost, and, three minutes later Aidan Breen was, once again a central figure when he out jumped a defender and the advancing goalkeeper to fist the ball to an empty net for goal number two.

Feale Rangers were again unable to cope with a pretty routine delivery, which was kicked more in hope than in confidence, but one would have to credit the goalscorer in this particular situation for being pretty direct and decisive.

Five points adrift Feale Rangers still had ample time to retrieve the situation, but these scores seemed to give St Kierans new found momentum, with the workrate of Philip O'Connor being a notable feature.

A lot more methodical in their build up play, two very good points from Edmund Walsh and Philip O'Connor extended their lead even further by the end of the third quarter 2-8 0-6.

Feale Rangers had opportunities to reduce the deficit but, despite some good approach play, their finishing from good positions was pretty poor, to say the very least. Conor Cox was by this stage operating in the middle of the pitch and any attempts by him to initiate openings from deep positions was dealt with pretty capably by St Kierans who always had sufficient numbers, with players tracking back, to help in defensive situations.

Using the opportunity to introduce a full complement of substitutes, St Kierans were in complete control entering the latter stages, with the win being sealed by the game's top scorer Adam Barry who converted St Kierans final two scores.

In fact Feale Rangers didn't register a score in the half until the twenty sixth minute, that being a pointed free from Conor Cox. St Kierans had by that stage booked a meeting with Mid Kerry in the first round proper of the competition.

For Feale Rangers, it's the end of the road for this particular season, and, while there was no lack of effort on their part, a sufficient level of quality was lacking, especially in attack.

St Kierans: Seán Óg Ó Ciardubhain, John O'Connor, Pádraig Reidy, Michael Reidy, Luka Brosnan, Eamonn Kiely, Brian Leonard, Seamus Scanlon (0-1), Adam Donoghue, Philip O'Connor (0-2), Aidan Breen (1-0), Maurice Hickey, Eddie Horan, Edmund Walsh (1-2; 1-0 pen, 0-1f), Adam Barry (0-6; 2f) Subs: Paul Walsh for M Hickey, Mike Walsh for L Brosnan, Pa McCarthy for E Horan, Sean O'Connell for A Donoghue, Seamus Brosnan for A Breen, Luke Lyons for J O'Connor

Feale Rangers: Jeremiah Kelly (Duagh), Eddie Browne (Emmetts), Sean T Dillon (St Senans), Aaron O'Connor (Duagh), Niall Collins (Emmetts), Shane Stack (Moyvane) (0-1), Tom McCarthy (Emmetts), Anthony Maher (Duagh), Joe Jo Grimes (Emmetts) (0-1), Sean Keane (Emmetts) (0-1), Barry Mahony (St Senans), Nigel O'Connor (Duagh), Paudie Quille (St Senans) (0-1), Conor Cox (Emmetts) (0-3, 2f), Martin Stack (Moyvane) (0-1 free) Subs: Sam Tarrant (Emmetts) for M Stack, Eamonn Flaherty (Moyvane) for S Keane, Tom Scanlon (Duagh) for S Stack

Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O'Rahillys)