They gave their all and then some, but it still wasn’t enough for Lancashire as they succumbed to a powerful Kerry outfit at a sultry and humid Old Bedians on Saturday last
By Martin Mannering at Old Bedians
In an end-to-end first half played at a cracking pace they gave as good as they got and had the Kingdom more than a little concerned going in at the break. Lancashire suffered a blow before the game as star forward Michael Molloy failed to recover from a hamstring injury sustained in a club match last weekend and the Donegal man’s ability to hold up the ball as well as take vital scores was a huge part of their game plan.
They did however make up for his absence in some part but the forward passes were gathered up more often by the Kerry defence than may have been the case had he been in there.
Michael Higgins got the home side off the mark within two minutes of the start when he came up from his wing back back berth to fire over from distance. The next seven minutes gave us a taste of what was to come later as the Kerry full forward line showed clear intent every time they gained possession.
Niall O’Shea was first provider for Sean O’Conchuir and then executioner before full forward Kieran Hurley fired over twice to go three clear. The next score also came from a Kerryman but it was at the other end of the pitch. A long range effort from Ciaran Harper came down off the left hand post and was collected by Darren Russell, The Asdee man headed for goal and though his first attempt was blocked the ensuing scramble saw the ball fall for him to punch to the net.
Suddenly Lancs had a spring in their step and Pauric McGurk made a powerful run through the middle to fire over. A Harper free put Lancs two clear by the turn of the quarter as their confidence soared. Niall O’Shea and Colm Conway exchanged minors as the game ebbed and flowed at a furious pace but over the next ten minutes Kieran Hurley’s third of the game was the only score registered.
As the half neared its end Kerry reasserted themselves to a degree and a fine move between Adrian Spilane and O’Conchuir ended with corner back Fionan Clifford in an advanced position to fire over. Stephen Sands responded in kind but Kerry had the last say of the first period when O’Conchuir and then David Foran both pointed to go in level at the break 1-6 to 0-9.
The question at the break was could Lancashire continue at the helter-skelter pace of the first half. Two weeks ago they reemerged with a fury against London but this time they were to be on the receiving end.
Kerry manager Stephen Wallace rang the changes with a triple substitution and it worked with devastating effect. Patrick Clifford, John C O’Connor and Lee O’Donoghue were all introduced and immediately the defending champions took a grip on the game. Adrian Spillane found his mojo at midfield and along with Clifford drove his side forward.
Before five minutes had elapsed O’Conchuir had added two more points to his tally along with one from John C before Patrick Clifford floated the ball into the square from out on the right where Kevin O’Sullivan rose highest to fist to the net. With the spirit they have shown throughout this campaign the Saffrons responded and Ger McCaughey was on the end of their next attack to bury the ball in the net.
Like the Spanish Armada they were being attacked from all sides and before we were half way through the second half their ship had been hulled. They took to the lifeboats and rowed heroically but safe waters were nowhere to be found.
Man of the match Hurley netted with Clifford again being instrumental. Paul O’Donoghue was introduced ten minutes in and his first contribution was to take a 45, his effort came down off the post and fell invitingly for Niall O’Shea who lashed it home. Four minutes later and Robert Wharton powered forward exchanging passes with Brian O’Seanachain before nailing goal number four.
It was pretty much mission accomplished by Kerry and though Lancs showed great strength of character to the final whistle they were always kept at a safe distance.
Before it finished Ger McCaughey hit a well merited second goal but like many before them the bravest of efforts floundered on the rocks of the Kingdom.
Manager Liam Coyne, though disappointed was immensely proud of his charges afterwards and praised each and every one for their contribution this summer.
“We gave our all and left everything on the pitch but we were beaten by a very strong and talented team who will probably win the All Ireland”.
In the end that half time question proved pertinent and that Kerry power surge after the break was impossible to withstand but Lancashire can walk from this years championship with their heads held high.
KERRY: Darragh O’Shea, Fionan Clifford(0-2), Jason Foley, Cathal O’Luing, Laurence Bastible, Andrew Barry, Robert Wharton( 1-0), Adrian Spillane, Michael O’Donnell, Brian O’Seanachain, Kevin O’Sullivan (1-0), David Foran (0-1), Sean M O’Conchuir (0-6), Kieran Hurley (1-4), Niall O’Shea (1-2) SUBS: Patrick Clifford for Bastible, John C O’Connor (0-1) for O’Donnell, Lee O’Donoghue for David Foran, Paul O’Donoghue for Kevin O’Sullivan, Dara Roche
LANCASHIRE: Michael Donnelly, Craig Owen, Dave McTeggart, Michael Collins, Michael Higgins (0-1), Pauric McGurk (0-1), Gary Morris, Stephen Sands (0-3), Niall Donnelly, Michael Comney, Ger McCaughey (2-0), Chris Mullen, Darren Russell (1-1), Colm Conway (0-1), Ciaran Harper (0-2) SUBS: Denis O’Neill for Mullen, Ryan Devlin for Connolly, John O’Hagan for Collins, Desie O’Malley (0-1) for Ciaran Harper, Paddy Murphy for Conway