*The ball is swiped off Éinne O’Connor. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
ÉIRE ÓG’s aspirations of claiming the Munster club senior football title have been ended for this year after they lost out to Kerins O’Rahillys by a single point.
Kerins O’Rahillys 1-09
Éire Óg 1-08
Venue: Austin Stack Part, Tralee
Navigating past the semi-final stage of this competition has been the hurdle to catch Éire Óg in the last two years and on this occasion it was their missed chances that proved most costly coupled with their inability to curb Tommy Walsh.
Given the margin of the loss, the pain of the defeat will be amplified for Éire Óg who trailed for the entirety of the game. This was evident with the disappointment etched on their faces as they exited the field to large applause from their sizeable base of supporters.
It was a perfect start for Kerins O’Rahillys who hit 1-01 before Éire Óg had time to breathe. Jack Savage pointed inside the opening fifteen seconds after Gavin O’Brien caught the throw-in and tore through the defence before offloading.
Savage turned provider with their next attack with his floating delivery palmed to the back of the net by Tommy Walsh to see Éire Óg conceded their first goal in championship football this year.
A stirring response followed from the Clare champions who kicked 0-03 without reply. Gavin Cooney pointed on the double with Mark McInerney teeing him for the first while the duo of Jarlath Collins and Ikem Ugwueru made the vital turnover for the second score on nine minutes.
McInerney opened his account with a mark after excellently fielding possession from a Cooney delivery on eleven minutes.
Crucially, Éire Óg went almost twenty minutes till their next score and coughed up four missed chances in a row while the Kerry champions added 0-03 via Jack Savage and two from Tommy Walsh, his physicality proving to be a constant thorn in the side of the Ennis club.
Three time All-Ireland winner David Moran was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence on twenty one minutes, picking up both yellow cards in the space of two minutes. His loss was not too telling as the strength and physicality of David McNamara and Darren O’Neill had identified that this was not going to be a sector of the field where the tie would be settled.
Red mist also descended on the Townies during the second half with corner forward Mark McInerney dismissed on fifty seven minutes for picking up another yellow card. Twenty six minutes after being substituted, Niall McMahon was shown a red card having ran on the field and knocked his opposing centre forward Jack Savage.
So far as the football was concerned in the second half, missed chances continued to be the source of Éire Óg’s struggles to get in front. Gavin O’Brien and Jack Savage extended the distance between the sides to five points on the restart.
Éinne O’Connor who was one of the best players on the pitch, led the comeback attempt when he won a kickout and in a typical run dodged and weaved through the Kerins O’Rahillys defence, he linked up with Oran Cahill who fed the ball back to him resulting in an excellent finish to the back of the net.
Instead of kicking on, Éire Óg conceded the next two scores. Falling four points adrift, the Ennis side narrowed the deficit to two once again with Gavin Cooney and substitute Philip Talty hitting the target.
A goal chance to O’Brien sailed over the crossbar in what was the host’s last score with forty seven minutes on the clock. Cooney and Ciaran Russell split the posts to get Paul Madden’s side to within a point, the closest they had been all game and regrettably for them as close as they would get.
O’Connor came close to getting a second goal but was denied by the post while Talty almost equalised only for Darragh McElligott to make a vital block.
Difficulty in retaining their own kickout at the beginning of the second half saw Éire Óg punished but overall it was the missed chances that served as their downfall and the key factor in ending their season.
Éinne O’Connor gave his best display of the year for Éire Óg and one likely to pique the interest of Clare boss Colm Collins who was in Tralee. Manus Doherty, Ikem Ugwueru, Gavin Cooney, Ciaran Russell and Jarlath Collins also stood out for the two in a row Clare champions.
Tommy Walsh, Cormac Coffey, Gavin O’Brien, Barry John Keane and Padraig Neenan impressed for the Kerry side.
Scorers Kerins O’Rahillys: T Walsh (1-02 1f 1M), J Savage (0-04 2f), G O’Brien (0-02), C Coffey (0-01).
Scorers Éire Óg: G Cooney (0-05 3f), É O’Connor (1-00), M McInerney (0-01 1M), P Talty (0-01), C Russell (0-01).
1: Shane Foley
3: Ross O’Callaghan
4: Cormac Coffey
2: Darragh McElligott
5: Con Barrett
6: Karl Mullins
7: Padraig Neenan
8: David Moran
9: Tom Hoare
10: Gearoid Savage
11: Jack Savage
12: Gavin O’Brien
13: Barry John Keane
14: Tommy Walsh
15: Conor Hayes
18: Ben Hanafin for G Savage (38)
17: Ryan Carroll for Barrett (48)
20: Diarmuid O’Sullivan for Hoare (58)
16: Shane Daniels
2: Manus Doherty
3: Aaron Fitzgerald
4: Ronan Lanigan
7: Ciaran Russell
6: Aidan McGrath
5: Éinne O’Connor
8: Darren O’Neill
9: David McNamara
12: Niall McMahon
11: Ikem Ugwueru
10: Oran Cahill
15: Mark McInerney
14: Gavin Cooney
17: Jarlath Collins
25: David Reidy for N McMahon (38)
13: Philip Talty for Cahill (39)
18: Conor O’Halloran for Lanigan (48)
19: Dean D’Auria for Collins (61)
Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary)