Templenoe strike early and often to take title

County IFC Final: Templenoe 2-14 An Ghaeltacht 0-12

Templenoe's Patrick Clifford
Templenoe's Patrick Clifford

Damian Stack

You could make an argument that this was a case of instant gratification, after all the game was largely done inside the opening five or ten minutes. Hell you could even make the case that it was gone for An Ghaeltacht after eighteen seconds.

Templenoe though know better than that. They know that this was a long time coming. They know that the wait is what made it all the sweeter. Third time lucky - fourth if you include their semi-final defeat last year - although there wasn't much luck involved on this occasion.

No, Templenoe were very much the masters of their own fate in their third final in four years. Fed up with coming up short, bridesmaids and never the bride, sick of being told they were the second best team in the competition, the sea-blues played with absolute determination, steely-eyed composure and no little class.

That's the thing that strikes you about this Templenoe side. They play football the right way. They play it with style. They play with a panache and a dash that most neutrals would find irresistible.

How could you not admire a team who for the second week running had the ball in the back of the net straight from the throw in? Right down the middle. No messing about. Then a delicate pass from Killian Spillane to Cian Hallissey and to cap it all off a classic finish from the inside man.

Just like that the path to victory was laid out in front of them. Inside the first ten minutes they'd extended their lead to five with points from Stephen O'Sullivan (a free) and Brian Crowley as An Ghaeltacht struggled to get up to the relentless pace set by Templenoe.

An Ghaeltacht were really reeling now under a sustained Templenoe barrage. Were it not for the feline reflexes of Tomás Mac an tSaoir between the sticks when Brian Crowley set Josh Crowley Holland free for a shot at goal it could have been even worse for the West Kerry men.

That said An Ghaeltacht could have had a goal themselves when a brilliant Brian Ó Beaglaoich run on seven minutes resulted in the Kerry defender shooting wide. Ó Beaglaoich's effort though was but a brief respite as Templenoe marched on.

Temple created yet another goal scoring-opportunity on twelve minutes when Gavin Crowley assisted Stephen O'Sullivan. Again An Ghaeltacht had Mac an tSaoir to thank for keeping them in the game, if only just.

Further unanswered points from Brian Crowley - from the same move that saw Mac an tSaoir save from O'Sullivan - Killian Spillane, Stephen O'Sullivan (a free) and Patrick Clifford pushed Templenoe nine points clear after fifteen minutes - 1-6 to 0-0 - and really from there it was as good as a done deal.

There was little chance of An Ghaeltacht turning the game around from such a yawning deficit, not a against a team of that quality, not against a team playing that well. To be fair to An Ghaeltacht their heads never dropped, they never threw in the towel or looked a team inclined to do so.

Twenty four minutes in An Ghaeltacht finally got on the scoreboard through PJ Mac Láimh, on as a first half sub.

A Seán M Ó Conchúir free on twenty six minutes seemed to suggest the West Kerry men were finally gaining something of a foothold in the game, but it proved no more than a chimera as in response Templenoe were utterly ruthless, not to mention beguiling.

When a long ball was sent down towards Killian Spillane in and around the forty yard line he knew exactly what to do. He didn't catch it and try to turn his man - Cathal Ó Luing for the most part on Sunday - instead he demonstrated exceptional spatial awareness, flicking on to Brian Crowley in acres of space behind him.

Crowley then passed to Stephen O'Sullivan who finally got the better of Mac an tSaoir after his earlier chance was saved. After that it really was a case of game over, the only question that remained was of margin.

Templenoe were ten clear at the time - 2-6 to 0-2 - and eight at half-time - 2-7 to 0-5 - the title was theirs as long as they held their nerve and hold their nerve they did, despite something of an An Ghaeltacht revival in the second half.

With Éanna Ó Conchúir playing much deeper and getting much more involved in the game, An Ghaeltacht took the game to Templenoe much more so than they had been doing, even after Templenoe started the half with a Killian Spillane point.

An Ghaeltacht had the deficit down to seven eight minutes into the half and when Ó Conchúir went on a surging run right down the middle of the Temple defence it was possible for one brief moment to visualise a path back into the game for his side.

Ó Conchúir's shot, however, was saved by Dan Cahalane for Templenoe and as if to rub salt in the wound Temple went right down the other end and pointed through Spillane. An four point swing in the space of around ten seconds was the final nail in An Ghaeltacht's coffin.

They did manage to match Templenoe in the second half - seven points each - but there was always this sense that (as in the case of Temple's response to Ó Conchúir goal chance) John Rice's side could up it as and when necessary.

Both sides had further goal scoring chances - Brian Crowley drew a save from Mac an tSaoir on fifty three minutes and Dara Ó Sé hit the underside of the crossbar with a free on fifty six - but there was never any real sense that we were doing anything other than going through the motions.

Templenoe were that good, that composed and that much in control of what they were doing. Two years on after their last final appearance, they weren't going to let the chance to go senior slip them by again.

These are the glory days.

Templenoe: Dan Cahalane, Michael Hallissey, Kieran O'Neill, John Spillane, Gavin Crowley, Tadhg Morley, Patrick Clifford (0-1), Seán Sheehan, Adrian Spillane (0-1), Teddy Doyle, Brian Crowley (0-1), Josh Crowley Holland, Stephen O'Sullivan (1-2, 2f), Killian Spillane (0-8, 6f), Cian Hallissey (1-0) Subs: Kieran McCarthy for P Clifford (inj), 32, Pat Spillane (0-1) for C Hallissey, 53, Tom Spillane for S Sheehan, 59, John Rice for B Crowley, 59, Joseph Sheehan for M Hallissey, 59, Martin Reilly for J Crowley Holland, 61

An Ghaeltacht: Tomás Mac an tSaoir, Cian Ó Murchú, Cathal Ó Luing, Colm Ó Muircheartaigh, Franz Sauerland, Pádraig Ó Sé, Ciarán Ó Coileáin, Roibeard Ó Sé, Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Ruairí Ó Beaglaoich (0-1), Dara Ó Sé (0-3, 2f), Gearóid Mac an tSaoir (0-1), Óigí Ó Sé (0-2), Éanna Ó Conchúir, Seán M Ó Conchúir (0-4, 3f) Subs: PJ Mac Láimh (0-1) for F Sauerland, 23, Adam Mac Amhlaoibh for SM Ó Conchúir, 44, Peter Paul Sauerland for C Ó Murchú, 53, Seán Ó Bambaire for G Mac an tSaoir, 59

Referee: Brendan Griffin (Clounmacon)

The 60-second report

Main man

A couple of contenders here. For An Ghaletacht Éanna Ó Conchúir stood out as a leader in the second half. For Temple Tadhg Morley was quitely effective, while the two Crowley brothers impressed. In the end though it has to be the man who assisted two goals and scored eight points - Killian Spillane.

Key moment

It has to be Cian Hallissey's goal after just eighteen seconds. It set the tone for what was to come and put An Ghaeltacht on the backfoot right from the off.

Talking Point

Can they go all the way? Not just to Croke Park and an All Ireland intermediate title, but can they make meaningful progress as a senior club.