Well-oiled West Kerry combine to send Stacks out

Garveys County SFC Quarter-final: West Kerry 1-17 Austin Stacks 0-14

West Kerry firmly announced themselves as senior county championship contenders after an impressive and comprehensive victory over Austin Stacks in the second game of the quarter-final double header in Austin Stacks Park last Saturday.

Fielding 12 An Ghaeltacht players in their starting line up, the West Kerry lads showed an understanding and cohesiveness normally not associated with district sides, and at times the quality of their football drew gasps of admiration from both sets of supporters. West Kerry also showed a desire and determination to win any fifty-fifty ball that might have presented itself, and this sheer will to win went a long way towards determining the eventual outcome.

Austin Stacks came into the game after a poor Division 1 county league campaign after having won just one and drawn two of their 11 games. They did have two good wins in the County Championship over St Kierans (after a replay) and Killarney Legion, but their form in the league was woeful to say the least.

The feeling out there was that the championship would once again be a different story for the Tralee side with the return of some key players to their starting line up, but sadly for them this was not the case as they played second fiddle to the rampant westeners all through. West Kerry, on the other hand, came into the game full of confidence and with their An Gaeltacht contingent finishing second in the the Division 1 County league, and safely through to the County Intermediate final, there was a pep in their step straight from the throw in.

West Kerry came out of the traps with all guns blazing and soon raced into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead after just 9 minutes with Sean Micheal O Conchuir scoring two (one free), and Dara O Se with a lovely effort from 30 metres. Austin Stacks reply came in the ninth minute from Greg Horan. Kieran Donaghy was getting his hands on some good possession around the middle of the field for Stacks, but West Kerry struck a body blow when Eanna O Conchuir goaled in the 11th minute after a superb diagonal crossfield ball from Sean Micheal O Conchuir put him in the clear.

Sean Micheal O Conchuir added another point soon afterwards to make the game 1-4 to 0-1, but in fairness to Austin Stacks they came right back into the game between the 15th and 25th minutes and outscored their opponents by 0-5 to 0-4, with one from play and a free by David Mannix, and three from Darragh O'Brien, one of which he should have goaled but blazed over the bar with only Tomás Mac an tSaoir to beat.

The pick of the West Kerry scores came in the 25th minute from the dynamic Eanna O Conchuir who swivelled, turned and shot over his left shoulder after a good counter attack involving several players, to push his side 1-8 to 0-6 ahead.

Rob O Se was becoming very influential at midfield for West Kerry and points from Jason Hickson and Tomas O Se pushed them further ahead, with Austin Stacks reply coming from three Mannix free kicks. West Kerry's excellent wing back PJ Mac Laimh then saw black on the stroke of half time for blocking an opponents run, but his side did go in at half time with a four-point lead, 1-10 to 0-9.

Austin Stacks made a number of substitutions at half time and they were first off the mark in the second period with a pointed David Mannix free. Brian O Beaglaoich and Kieran Donaghy, with a superb 40-metre curler, traded points but West Kerry then put over three on the bounce with frees from Dara O Se, Sean Miceal O Conchuir, and another from play by O Conchuir, to pull 1-14 to 0-11 ahead with 45 minutes gone.

Tempers flared and the referee issued a number of yellow cards.The West Kerry defence were in no mood for letting their lead slip, and their solid and aggressive tackling was forcing Austin Stacks to shoot from distance. When they did go long to feed Donaghy on the edge of the square, the excellent Cathal O Luing received admirable help from his colleagues to keep the Stacks talisman at bay. Rob O Se, Eanna O Conchuir and Padraig O Se were full of running, and the Stacks rearguard were struggling to come with their pace and energy as the game entered the final quarter.

Austin Stacks did score four points before the finish of the game with two from David Mannix (one free) and substitute Wayne Guthrie, but West Kerry held all the aces and slotted over three of their own from Declan O'Sullivan, another brilliant O Beaglaoich effort and a Dara O Se free kick, to see them emerge as six-point victors, and safely into the senior county championship semi-final.

West Kerry: Tomas Mac an tSaoir, Colm O Muircheartaigh, Cathal O Luing, Cian O Murchu, PJ Mac Lamh (0-1), Padraig Og O Se, Brian O Beaglaoich (0-2), Rob O Se, Jason Hickson (0-1), Tomas O Se (0-1), Dara O Se (0-4, 3f), Alan Fitzgerald (0-1), Declan O'Sullivan (0-1), Eanna O Conchuir (1-1), Sean Micheal O Conchuir (0-5, 2f). Subs: Gearoid O Nuanain for Mac Laimh (31 min, b/c), Donnacha O hUigin for D O'Sullivan (53 min), Cathal Ferriter for S M O Conchuir 59 min), Timmy Moriarty for E O Conchuir (34 min).

Austin Stacks: David Hennessey, Ronan Shanahan, Fearghal McNamara, Sean Ryan, Pa McCarthy, Jack O'Shea, Jack Morgan, Greg Horan (0-1), Shane Guthrie, Michael O'Donnell, Shane O'Callaghan, Shane Carroll, David Mannix (0-8, 7f), Kieran Donaghy (0-1), Darragh O'Brien (0-3). Subs: Wayne Guthrie (0-1) for S Guthrie (h/t), B Walsh for S Ryan (h/t), Fiachna Mangan for M O'Donnell (36 min), Daniel Bohan for S Carroll (45 min), Darragh Scanlon for J O'Shea (59 min).

Referee: James O'Sullivan (Firies)