Knockbeg College 1-15
Intermediate School, Killorglin 2-8
By Kieran Murphy
IT is not too early to say this is a special group of footballers. Admittedly there is no All-Ireland won yet but this Knockbeg team owes nobody anything. In the space of 11 days they have produced the goods on three occasions and their reward is a place in the All-Ireland final against the mighty St Colman’s of Newry.
In the Leinster semi-final, it took a three-goal blitz in extra time to progress. In the provincial decider they could have won by 10 but held out to scrape through by one. Here at the University of Limerick sportsgrounds on Saturday they conceded two soft first-half goals and still bounced back. They thoroughly deserved their win.
The Killorglin boys are said to have four players on their way to playing minor with Kerry this year. At times in the first half Sean O’Brien and Matthew Leslie underlined their class but at the end they were left powerless by a superb Knockbeg performance.
“We had heard all about them. They had won the Munster final by 10 points. We knew what we were coming up against,” said Knockbeg coach Stephen Attride after the game.
“I said to the lads if we could play to our ability I don’t think anyone could live with us. Possibly in the first half we were a step or two off and in the second half we got to the pitch of it.”
In a tight opening 10 minutes Oisin Byrne with two points, Fionn Bergin and Oisin Doyle with one each accounted for the Knockbeg total. Then in a four-minute period the Leinster champions conceded a goal each to Dara McKeefrey and Eoghan Hassett who were on the end of ponderous passing movements as the Knockbeg defence seemed rooted to the ground.
They also lost Orrie Doran to a black card on 25 minutes. For senior intercounty the punishment is only 10 minutes in the bin, but at this level the old laws still stand so the full-back was replaced by Jesse McEvoy.
The eventual winners weren’t fazed.
“We brought on lads who had injuries during the year but Oisin Nolan and Jessie McEvoy came on and made a great impact. In fairness, they follow instructions very well. They pull it through time and time again,” noted Attride.
At half-time Knockbeg had nudged ahead once more by 0-12 to 2-5. It was hard to say who benefitted most from the cross-field wind but it wasn’t something Knockbeg dwelt on.
In a three-minute spell the Kerry boys outscored their rivals by 0-3 to 0-1 to go in front. Incredibly they wouldn’t score again. And that included over 10 minutes’ injury-time.
The Knockbeg goal came on 51 minutes when a patient build-up saw Bryan McMahon release Ian Shanahan who ran one and one with the keeper and easily netted.
Killorglin lost the plot. Twice they had frees turned over for hitting out when the whistle had gone. Matt Reenstierna walked for an elbow offence. Leslie missed a simple free in front of the posts and even when Oisin Nolan picked up a second yellow with a black which equalled red, Knockbeg were not going to be caught.
They did enjoy a smidgen of good fortune when a Killorglin defender was adjudged to have fouled after the ball was released. That gave Fionn Bergin a free in front of the posts which he duly converted. That was the insurance and Knockbeg never looked back.
“We were three points ahead and closed it out well. A dogged defence which might not have been the prettiest got us over the line,” said an exultant Stephen Attride at the end.
Knockbeg College: Sean Dollard; Jamie Kelly (0-1), Orrie Doran, Brendan McDonald; Tomas Byrne, Shane Buggy, Ben Crotty; Ciaran Burke, Ian Shanahan (1-0); Oisin Hooney (0-2), Colin Dunne (0-1), Oisin Doyle (0-1); Bryan McMahon (0-1), Oisin Byrne (0-4), Fionn Bergin (0-5 frees). Subs: Jesse McEvoy for Doran (25 mins, black card), Oisin Nolan for T Byrne (h/t), Conall Bergin for McMahon (68 mins).
IS Killorglin: Cian Knight; Ivan Crowley, Ethan Coffey, Matt Reenstierna; Sean Cleary, Kieran Sullivan, Niall Carey; Rory O’Connor, Sean O’Brien; Conor Spillane (0-1), Matthew Leslie (0-4), Callum Moriarity; Diarmuid McGulligan (0-1), Dara McKeefrey (1-1), Eoghan Hassett (1-1). Subs: Dara Blenner Hassett for McGulligan (35 mins), Kieran Dennehy for Spillane (45 mins),
Referee: Mike Sexton (Limerick)