St Brendans more comfortable against Kilcummin than scoreline suggests

County SFC Round 1: St Brendans 2-17 Kilcummin 2-14

Timmy Sheehan, Blennerville

The final scoreline might suggest a close encounter in this particular contest in Blennerville last Saturday, and it was for long periods, but two late Kilcummin goals put a better complexion on the scoreboard after St Brendans had opened up a sizeable gap with less than ten minutes left.

Comfortable winners over Shannon Rangers in the preliminary round St Brendans would probably have been the slight favourites going into this particular game, but with Jack Barry, David O'Callaghan and Kevin Shanahan all confirmed absentees prior to throw in, it tilted the balance in favour of the East Kerry side.

The unavailability of Kerry midfielder Barry was due to he sitting an exam in Dublin that afternoon, and given the circumstances, surely the game could have been rescheduled for Sunday afternoon. As events transpired, St Brendans coped admirably in the absence of three of their key performers, and while Kilcummin will rue their inaccuracy in the first half when they had the advantage of a strong breeze.

St Brendans, overall, were more resourceful and economical at a period in the second half when the issue was delicately poised. Central to their dominance at that juncture was the input of Alan O'Donoghue on the 'forty', whose darting runs through the heart of the Kilcummin defence was a notable feature, while the precision finishing of Ivan Parker was a significant factor in his side's success. He opened the scoring in the fourth minute and five minutes later the encounter was deadlocked on two points apiece, after Noel Duggan had been denied of a Kilcummin goal at the end of a defence splitting run.

With Shane McSweeney a dominant figure in midfield, Kilcummin created most of the scoring opportunities and were 0-3 to 0-2 ahead by the 12th minute courtesy of a superb long-range effort from Philip Casey. However, St Brendans were 0-4 to 0-3 in front by the end of the first quarter, before Philip Casey levelled matters in the 19th minute.

Ahead 0-5 to 0-4 by the 20th minute Kilcummin's lead remained intact after Brendan Kealy had effected an excellent diving save one minute later to deny marauding wing back Mike Griffin. However, a goal did materialise in the 22nd minute when Diarmuid Herlihy got the final vital fisted touch to beat Brendan Kealy with Kilcummin having had the opportunity to avert the danger twice as the ball bounced dangerously in front of goal. Kilcummin did have a goal chance all of their own shortly afterwards but Donal Maher was denied from close range by the advancing Eoghan O'Brien.

Level 1-4 to 0-7 by the 26th minute St Brendans retired for the interval break in front (1-5 0-7) after Alan O'Donoghue's pace opened up the Kilcummin defence and his finish produced the final score of the half in added time.

Kilcummin relocated Kevin McCarthy at full forward at the outset of the second half, and, it yielded immediate dividends with the Kerry attacker levelling matters within a minute of the restart. He added two more pointed frees to leave the encounter still deadlocked, 1-7 to 0-10, within seven minutes of the restart, but a goal from Ivan Parker, converted with a lot of composure and confidence in the 40th minute, opened up some daylight between the teams, 2-8 to 0-11, increased with points from play from both the aforementioned Parker and Mike Griffin.

Five points still separated the sides going into the final quarter, increased to six by the 49th minute with substitute Paul McMahon having effected a huge catch close to goal and blasting over the bar with a gilt-edged goal chance on offer.

With Andrew Barry surging forward in support of his attack St Brendans were eight points clear (2-15 0-13) with as many minutes left in the clock. Cruising, and, in control the game was drifting to its inevitable conclusion when Kilcummin produced a two goal salvo from Matt Keane and Daniel Moynihan in the dying moments. The scores came too late to influence the eventual outcome and really St Brendans overall were the superior outfit, being, much more clinical with the scoring chances which were created by them. Kilcummin's inaccuracy in the first half which yielded ten wides cost them, as indeed did their failure to convert a few clear cut goal opportunities.

Crucially, St Brendans had a superior cutting edge in their attack, supplemented by the support provided from deep from such as Mike Griffin and Andrew Barry.

Certainly, the level of this particular performance augers well for their Championship prospects, even if much stiffer tests lie ahead, beginning with the defending champions Dr Crokes on this Saturday evening in Lewis Road.

St Brendans: Eoghan O'Brien (Churchill), Trevor Wallace (Ardfert), Laurence Bastible (John Mitchels), Luke Mulligan (St Pats), Michael Griffin (Na Gaeil) (0-1), Andrew Barry (Na Gaeil), Kieran O'Donovan (Na Gaeil), Liam O'Sullivan (St Pats) (0-3, 1 '45'), Stefan Okunbar (Na Gaeil), David Griffin (Ardfert), Alan O'Donoghue (John Mitchels) (0-5, 3f), Brandon Barrett (Ardfert) (0-1), Ivan Parker (Churchill) (1-5, 0-1f), Cillian Fitzgerald (Churchill), Diarmuid Herlihy (Na Gaeil) (1-1). Subs: Paul McMahon (St Pats) (0-1) for S Okunbar, Kevin O'Shea (St Pats) for B Barrett, Eoin Doody (Na Gaeil) for K O'Donovan, Paudie Baily (St Pats) for C Fitzgerald (B/C), Eoghan Courtney (Ardfert) for D Griffin.

Kilcummin: Brendan Kealy (0-1 '45'), Donal Maher, Damien O'Leary, Jamie O'Donoghue, Mikey O'Shea, Chris O'Leary, Daniel O'Leary, Daniel Moynihan (1-0), Shane McSweeney (0-1), Philip Casey (0-3, 1f), Noel Duggan (0-1), Paul O'Riordan, Kevin McCarthy (0-5, 4f), Kelvin Teahan (0-1), Matthew Keane (1-2, 0-1 '45'). Subs: William Maher for D O'Leary, Richie O'Connor for N Duggan.

Referee: Jonathan Griffin (Glenbeigh).