Defending champions East Kerry survive a real scare from Mid Kerry in U-21 football quarter-final


East Kerry 1-12

Mid Kerry 1-11

East Kerry’s long unbeaten run in this competition stretches all the way back to 2018, but their quest for four in a row came very close to being ended in Fossa as a determined Mid Kerry side had them under the cosh for most of this high-octane thriller, but just couldn’t apply the coup de grace. In the the champions advanced to the final four by the skin of their teeth.

East Kerry made the early running but made very hard work of putting it on the scoreboard, with Aaron O’Shea’s pointed free the only flag raised in the opening ten minutes. Anthony Kelliher jinked through to level matters. Keith Evans doubled the lead and Aodhán Roche gathered a perfectly weighed Conor Spillane pass to make it 0-3 to 0-1 after the first quarter.

Aaron O’Shea kicked a great score and had a goal effort taken off the Mid Kerry line. Fionán Griffin replied for Mid Kerry and Conor Spillane with a free made it 0-5 to 0-2. Mid Kerry were much the better side now, showing great teamwork as well as some great individual skills.

Harry Kelly pulled back a point for East Kerry but Shane Evans won a free converted by Darragh O’Connor. Paudie O’Leary was East Kerry’s best player at this stage and won a free tapped over by Jack Walsh. Mid Kerry’s response was immediate, though, with Fionán Griffin gathering a superb ball in from Keith Evans and exquisitely lobbing the hapless keeper for a superb goal.

Just before half-time Jack Walsh pulled back a badly wanted score for East Kerry to make it Mid Kerry 1-6 East Kerry 0-5 at the interval.

Ruairí Doyle cut the gap to a goal with a great point early in the second half. Aaron O’Shea, looking more dangerous with every minute, clipped over another two.

Fionán Griffin fisted over a close range effort to give Mid Kerry breathing space. That seemed to give them confidence as he added another, with Darragh O’Connor and Timmy Casey adding well-taken scores, to make it 1-10 to 0-8 and Mid Kerry looking likely for the win.

East Kerry needed a goal and got it, maybe with a smidgeon of luck as Colm Kelliher was fouled in the box as he tried to reach a ball across from Paudie O’Leary – it didn’t look as if he was likely to reach it in time. Up stepped Aaron O’Shea to stroke the penalty to the net. O’Shea quickly added a point and the margin was down to a point with O’Shea winning and adding a free to make it level pegging.

Darragh O’Connor was unlucky to hit the post with a free, while Jack Walsh made no mistake at the other end. Paudie O’Leary nervelessly adding another one, but Conor Spillane pointed a free to cut the gap to a minimum. Mid Kerry pressed hard for an equaliser, but East Kerry did well to clear their lines from a high ball lofted in Keith Evans and Jack O’Connor, who looked rusty after a long injury lay-off, couldn’t direct a late long range on target.

East Kerry survive, but will need to improve, while Mid Kerry can rue their luck after being the better team for long periods of this game but just not able to find a knockout blow.

EAST KERRY: Jack O’Sullivan, Damien Cronin, Dara O’Callaghan, Cian Doyle, Ruairí Doyle (0-1), Paudie O’Leary (0-1), James Williams, Ronan Collins, Mark O’Shea, Cian Foley, Philip O’Leary, Timmy Moynihan, Jack Walsh 0-3 (2f), Aaron O’Shea 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), Harry Kelly (0-1). Subs: Oisín O’Leary for Timmy Moynihan (8), Colm Kelliher for Oisín O’Leary (ht), Darren Ryan for Harry Kelly (52).

MID KERRY: Darragh Crosby, Josh Coffey, Sean Corcoran, Liam O’Neill, Aodhán Roche (0-1), Liam Evans, Anthony Kelliher (0-1), Liam Smith, Timmy Casey (0-1), Fionán Griffin (1-3), Shane Evans, Conor Spillane 0-2 (2f), Darragh O’Connor 0-2 (1f), Jack O’Connor, Keith Evans (0-1). Sub: Lachlan Griffin for Fionán Griffin (57).

Referee: Denis Kennelly (Moyvane)

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