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Spa finish Group 2 with a bang against Kerins O’Rahillys who finish campaign with another whimper

Killarney club score four goals in strong showing against Senior Club Championship finalists


Liam Spillane of Spa in action against Ben Hanafin and Karl Mullins of Kerins O'Rahilly's during their Garvey's County SFC Group 2 Round 3 match in Spa. Photo by Tatyana McGough

Liam Spillane of Spa in action against Ben Hanafin and Karl Mullins of Kerins O'Rahilly's during their Garvey's County SFC Group 2 Round 3 match in Spa. Photo by Tatyana McGough

Liam Spillane of Spa in action against Ben Hanafin and Karl Mullins of Kerins O'Rahilly's during their Garvey's County SFC Group 2 Round 3 match in Spa. Photo by Tatyana McGough



Spa 4-13

Kerins O’Rahilly’s 0-16

In a game played in a rather surreal atmosphere with barely a ripple of applause after a team scored, Spa took the spoils in a contest that was entertaining at times but totally lacked the bite that one would associate with senior championship football.

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As we all know the result mattered very little in the broader scheme of things as both clubs were out of contention to qualify for the quarter-finals, with the outcome only deciding who would finish third, and who would collect the wooden spoon in Group 2.

Kerins O’Rahillys started with five changes to the team named in the program with captain Ross O’Callaghan rested, whilst David Moran and Gavin O’Brien watched the game in their civvies and Jack Savage and Cormac Coffey were in Dubai. Spa were without the suspended Dara Moynihan and the injured Dan O’Donoghue, but otherwise they lined out in a familiar formation.

In a way the pressure was on Spa to deliver as they were playing at home and had the more settled line up but to their credit Kerins O’Rahilly’s put it up to them, although Spa’s tour de force in the last twelve minutes of the game gave a nice sheen to the scoreboard in the finish.

The visitors had shown mighty resilience to draw level in the 48th minute, 2-8 to 0-14, when Darragh O’Connor slotted over (assist Conor Hayes), as they had trailed by five points at half time Spa showed what they are capable of though as they put on the after burners subsequently and outscored their rivals by 2-5 to 0-2 in the last 12 minutes.

Midfielder Ciarán Spillane scored a goal in the 49th minutes after a series of passes and substitute Cian Tobin added a point straight afterwards. O’Rahillys replied with a Cian Sayers point three minutes later but next came goal number four for the winners.

It was Conor Stack that did the groundwork and his pass across goal left Evan Cronin with the handy task of palming the ball into the empty net. Thomas Cronin added a point with a neat finish, Darragh O’Connor replied with a free, but the last act of the game fell to Evan Cronin after the hard-working Liam Spillane fed him in space, and the rangy centre half forward pointed to seal a nine point win.

It was Kerins O’Rahilly’s that actually started the game brighter and after David Spillane and Barry John Keane, with a beautiful right footed slicer, exchanged scores and the Tralee side got the next two on the trot from a Keane free and Darragh O’Connor from play.

Both sides were guilty of some really sloppy play in this opening period with turnovers, poor decision making, balls dropped into the goalkeepers hands, and messy unnecessary wides blighting proceedings on a night that was perfect for playing better quality football. Thankfully, things would improve as the game went on.

Mike O’Donoghue was foraging very well for the home side and he scored a lovely goal in the ninth minute after Evan Cronin did very well to find him with the pass. O’Donoghue was left with a one on one with Shane Foley and the experienced marksman rarely scuffs such opportunities and left the net dancing.

On the quarter mark Spa had a shout for a penalty turned away when it appeared that Liam Spillane was fouled when shooting but Ciaran Spillane and Gary Vaughan dotted the scoreboard before O’Rahillys dangerous corner forward Conor Hayes punched over the bar after a good cut in.

Next came Spa’s second goal in the 23rd minute and what a beauty it was. Liam Kearney played a neat return pass with Mike  O’Donoghue and finished soccer style to the onion sack in excellent fashion. Strand Road had a chance of their own immediately afterwards, but James Devane saved smartly at point blank range from Tom Hoare.

The sides then traded a couple of scores a piece coming up to half time and Spa looked well in control as they took a 2-5 to 0-6 lead into the dressing room.

Tom Hoare and Evan Cronin (free) traded scores early in the second half but the Strand Road men then slotted three on the bounce from Cian Sayers, Tom Hoare (free) and Ben Hanifan before David Spillane got a welcome reply for Spa in the 38th minute to push his side three ahead, 2-7 to 0-10, once more.

The sides traded points again but Kerins O’Rahilly’s with Sean Walsh, Barry John Keane and Tom Hoare prominent, slotted over three points on the trot from Diarmuid O’Sullivan (free), Ben Hanafin, and Darragh O’Connor to level the game with 12 minutes left to play.

It was from here on that Spa went into overdrive, and helped by the goals from Ciaran Spillane and Evan Cronin, they finished impressively to round off their Championship campaign with a win, as participation in this year’s Senior County Championship came to a finish for both teams.

SPA: James Devane; Eric O’Donoghue, Eoin Fitzgerald (0-1), Brian Lynch; Shane Lynch, Shane Cronin, Gary Vaughan (0-1); Liam Kearney (1-0), Ciaran Spillane (1-1); Ryan Carroll, Evan Cronin 1-2 (0-1f), Liam Spillane (0-3); Mike O’Donoghue (1-0), Mike Foley, David Spillane (0-2). Subs: Rian O’Neill for E Fitzgerald (45 mins), Thomas Cronin (0-1) for R O’Carroll (48 mins), Conor Stack for S Lynch (48 mins), Cian Tobin (0-2) for M O’Donoghue (50 mins), Mikey Moynihan for D Spillane (52 mins).

KERINS O’RAHILLYS: Shane Foley; Darragh McElligott, TJ Heaphy, Padraig Neenan; Ben Hanifan (0-2) , Karl Mullan, Cian Sayers (0-2), Sean Walsh (0-1), Tom Hoare 0-3 (2f), Daniel Bowler, Barry John Keane 0-3 (2f, 1m), Padraig Griffin; Darragh O’Connor 0-3 (1f), Diarmuid O’Sullivan (0-1f), Conor Hayes (0-1). Subs: Keelan Crowe for P Griffin (ht), Gearoid Dillane for D O’Sullivan (45 mins), Stephen Nix for TJ Heaphy (50 mins).

Referee: Donal Casey (Scartaglen)