Understrength O'Rahillys overcome Rathmore goals to sneak narrow win

Senior Club Championship Group 1 Round 1: Kerins O'Rahillys 1-16 Rathmore 3-9

Darragh McElligott, Kerins O’Rahillys, challenged by Rathmore’s Brian Moynihan in the Senior Club Championship at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin
Darragh McElligott, Kerins O’Rahillys, challenged by Rathmore’s Brian Moynihan in the Senior Club Championship at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Sunday. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin

Paul Brennan

Kerins O'Rahillys staged a gutsy second half comeback to overturn a six-point half time deficit to edge a one-point win over a Rathmore team that failed to capitalise on three first half goals. Kerry senior goalkeeper Shane Ryan turned poacher for his club and had the ball in the O'Rahillys net after 10 minutes as Rathmore enjoyed a lightning start with Brian Friel walking through the O'Rahillys defence two minutes later to place a low shot past Gary Kissane to make it 2-1 to 0-2 after 12 minutes.

O'Rahillys lined out without David Moran, Tommy Walsh and Con Barrett and the absence of their ability, size and experience was notably in that first half, as Rathmore - with Aidan O'Mahonmy back in their starting 15 - threatened to overrun the Tralee club in that first half, who had Chrissie Spiers in fine form at centre forward.

Spiers finished the game with eight points - including six converted frees - but even that was overshadowed by Jack Savage's 10-point haul for O'Rahillys (with eight converted frees) with the former Kerry panellist keeping O'Rahillys in touch on the scoreboard through a first half in which they struggled to contain Rathmore's forward unit when they ran at them.

A Spiers free in the 21st minute put Rathmore 2-4 to 0-3 ahead but then O'Rahillys hit back with consecutive scores from Tom Hoare, Savage (free), Cormac Coffey, Barry John Keane and another Savage free to make it a two-point game, and O'Rahillys would have been happy enough to get to the interval with that, having played against a stiff wind. Instead, Spiers mined a decent score from play before Shane Ryan picked out Cillian O'Connor for another close range goal right on the half time whistle to send Rathmore to the dressing rooms 3-5 to 0-8 ahead.

Three early second half frees from Jack Savage began to see O'Rahillys eat into the deficit, and although Spiers converted a couple of frees to keep Rathmore ahead, the momentum has shifted considerably in O'Rahillys favour as Rathmore stuggled to get the ball forward to Shaen Ryan and the inside forwards.

Paul Murphy had struggled to impose himself on the game in the way he's capable of doing and was replaced at the three-quarter mark injured, at which stage it was 3-7 to 0-15 after scores from Gearoid and Jack Savage and Keane cut the gap to the minimum.

The critical scores of the second half duly arrived when Gavin O'Brien's shot was saved by Kenneth O'Keeffe and after Barry John Keane's directed the rebound onto the crossbar he finally managed to poke the ball over the goal line to make it 1-15 to 3-7.

Gearoid Savage's 53rd minute point nudged O'Rahillys three clear and though they didn't score for the last 10 minutes they shut out a labouring Rathmore side that could only manage two late Spiers frees in additional time to cut the deficit when the East Kerry club really needed a fourth goal to turn this game back in their favour.

Kerins O'Rahillys: Gary Kissane, David Murphy, Ross O'Callaghan, Cormac Coffey 0-1, Darragh McElligott, Shane Brosnan, Karl Mullins, Gearoid Savage 0-2, Gavin O'Brien, Ryan Carroll, Sean Walsh, Jack Savage 0-10 (8f), John Ferguson, Tom Hoare 0-1, Barry John Keane 1-2. Subs: Danny O'Sullivan for D Murphy, Sean Collins for D McElligott, Con Barrett for S Walsh.

Rathmore: Kenneth O'Keeffe, TJ Friel, Mike Joe Kelliher, Cillian O'Connor 1-0, Paul Murphy, Aidan O'Mahony, Brendan O'Keeffe, Daniel O'Sullivan, Mark Ryan, Brian Moynihan, Chrissie Spiers 0-8 (6f), Donal Moynihan, Brian Friel 1-0, Shane Ryan 1-1, John Moynihan. Subs: Colm Kelly for D Moynihan, George O'Keeffe for P Murphy, Mark T Reen for B Moynihan, Tadhg Moynihan for M Ryan.

Referee: Billy O'Shea (Keel)