Kerins O'Rahilly's Tommy Walsh celebrates at Austin Stack Park.
Kerins O'Rahilly's Tommy Walsh celebrates at Austin Stack Park.

AIB Munster Club SFC: Kerins O'Rahillys advance

AIB Munster Club SFC Semi-Final

Kerins O'Rahillys 1-9 Éire Óg, Ennis 1-8

By Paul Brennan at Austin Stack Park

They might have fallen well short in the County Senior Football Championship, failing to win a game in the group stage of the competition, but 14-man Kerins O’Rahillys advanced to the Munster Club SFC final after beating Clare champions Éire Óg.

O’Rahillys had earned their place as Kerry’s representative in the provincial championship through a combination of East Kerry (a divisional team) winning the County SFC, and O’Rahillys winning the County Senior Club Championship, and they needed to recapture some of that steel and character to get them over the line this afternoon after their midfield talisman David Moran was sent off after 22 minutes.

It left O’Rahillys with a rod for their back for the next 40-plus minutes, but they hung on against an Éire Óg team that was big on effort but short on precision in front of the posts.

O’Rahillys were helped by a brilliant start, taking the lead after just 12 seconds a after which they were never behind, and further boosted by Tommy Walsh’s goal in the third minute.

Unperturbed by that poor start, Éire Óg settled into their work thereafter and points from Gavin Cooney (2) and Mark McInerney had them to within a point of O’Rahillys after 12 minutes.

Jack Savage scored his second point but then hit the post with a very scorable free by his standards as the game remained scrappy in testing weather conditions, with the referee issuing a few yellow cards, two of which went to Moran which significantly shifted the dynamic of the game.

Tommy Walsh, who was a big target and threat at full forward for the home side, landed a point from play and then converted a free as O’Rahillys took a 1-4 to 0-4 lead to the half time interval, Cooney getting Éire Óg’s last score of the half from a close-range free.

A man down, O’Rahillys needed a strong start to the second half and they got it with two early points from Gavin O’Brien but the Clare champions hit back with a great goal from wing-back Einne O’Connor after being set up by Cooney.

O’Rahillys responded in the best way, points from Jack Savage and Cormac Coffey they led 1-8 to 1-4 after 42 minutes.

Savage and Coffey were brought home from Dubai for the game, while Gavin O’Brien was flown back from his New York base, and all three made the effort worthwhile with six points between them.

Moran’s absence around midfield was apparent for O’Rahillys, who moved Tommy Walsh to the middle of the field to try and win some badly needed primary possession and stifle Éire Óg from getting on the front foot. It worked up to a point but the Ennis men clawed their way back with scores from Talty, Ciaran Russell and two Cooney to make it 1-9 to 1-8.

They played the last five minutes with 14 men after Mark McInerney was sent off for a double yellow, but in between Talty fluffed his chance to level the scores and maybe take the game to extra-time.

Big of effort but short on execution, Éire Og will be left rue what might have been as O’Rahillys will contest their first Munster Club SFC Final since 2009, which they lost to Kilmurry-Ibrickane.

Scorers for Kerins O’Rahillys: T Walsh 1-2 (0-1 mark); J Savage 0-4 (0-2 frees); G O’Brien (0-2); C Coffey (0-1 each).

Scorers for Éire Óg Ennis: G Cooney 0-5 (0-3 frees); E O’Connor (1-0); C Russell, M McInerney (0-1 mark), P Talty (0-1 each).

Kerins O’Rahillys: Shane Foley; Darragh McElligott, Ross O’Callaghan, Cormac Coffey; Con Barrett, Karl Mullins, Padraig Neenan; David Moran, Tom Hoare; Cian Sayers, Jack Savage, Gavin O’Brien; Barry John Keane, Tommy Walsh, Conor Hayes

Subs: Ben Hanafin for G Savage (39); Ryan Carroll for Barrett (49); Diarmuid O’Sullivan for Hoare (58).

*Éire Óg: *S Daniels; Manus Doherty, A Fitzgerald, R Lanigan; C Russell, A McGrath, É O’Connor; Darren O’Neill, D McNamara; N McMahon, I Ugwueru, O Cahill; Gavin Cooney, M McInerney, J Collins.

Subs: David Reidy for McMahon (37); Philip Talty for Cahill (40); Conor O’Halloran for Lanigan (48); Dean D’Auria for Collins (62).

Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)