Kilcummin will provide another stiff test for St. Enda’s

St. Enda’s opponents at Croke Park on Saturday are Kilcummin of Kerry. The Kerry champions have impressed on their way to Croke Park and Kerry clubs have fared well in this competition in the past so they will start Saturday’s final against St. Enda’s as favourites. Nothing new there then. St. Enda’s have been cast in the underdog’s role throughout their Ulster campaign and again in the All Ireland semi-final against An Spideal so Frank Fitzsimmons and his team are unlikely to be too worried by the underdog’s tag.

A recent post on the club website read “ Kilcummin GAA club would like to thank all those who have contributed in any way, be it financial or moral support, to the senior team and management in its preparation for the All-Ireland Intermediate Final next Saturday. That support is greatly appreciated and will be acknowledged but for now we would like to wish all our supporters a safe journey to and from Dublin and to those who travelled from abroad as far away as Australia and USA. This is a truly historic occasion and the messages of goodwill from neighbouring parishes and clubs has been overwhelming, so let’s make it a day to be proud of and one that we will always remember. Our young members have recorded a special song for the day, compiled by Martina O’Sullivan. Learn the words and let’s raise the roof in CROKER.

St. Enda’s have a team who are quite capable of putting an end to those celebrations before they have started and a support I expect to be singing their own songs as the full-time whistle sounds at Croke Park on Saturday but for now let’s take a look at the men from Kerry.

Munster Intermediate Quarter-Final  (Courtesy of Kilcummin web. Site)

Kilrush Shamrocks 0-7 Kilcummin 0-10

Kilcummin travelled to Kilrush with a little trepidation, expecting a hard battle but confident they would be up for the challenge. As it transpired their expectations were realised in the presence of a huge support who contributed greatly to the occasion with their burst of colour and encouragement.

Kilrush had many fine players on their team and played some really good football at times. Indeed playing with the wind they caused some concern early on but some good defending allied to a fine save from Brendan Kealy saw Kilcummin match them score for score. The Kerry side trailed at half time by a single point 0-5 to 0-4 with Noel Duggan, twice from frees Shane McSweeney and Gary O’Leary their scorers. That first half saw Daniel O’Leary and Matt Keane being introduced in place of Sean Brosnan and Kevin Gorman (Black Card).

The second-half started with Kilrush scoring first and leaving two points between the sides after five minutes but they were not to score again until well into injury time. This was due to a controlled performance and some good defending throughout. However scores were difficult to come by owing to a strong defence and difficult crosswind. Matt Keane brought the side’s  level after 10 minutes after Gary O’Leary had kicked a fine point to reduce the deficit to a single point three minutes earlier.

Chris O’Leary put Kilcummin in front for the first time in the 50th minute after they had wasted a number of chances and they kicked on after that with two great frees from Philip Casey. Despite being in complete control it was only when Noel Duggan kicked a fine score from a difficult angle that the Kerry men could celebrate and look forward to the next round of the competition against Waterford opposition. Kieran Murphy returned  from injury replacing John McCarthy after 45 minutes. Damien O’Leary and James Nagle were also introduced late on for Ian Devane and Sean O’Leary.

Team: Brendan Kealy, Sean Brosnan, Donal Maher, Daniel Moynihan, William Maher, Philip Casey, Sean O’Leary, Kevin Gorman, Chris O’Leary, Shane McSweeney. Gary O’Leary, Padraig Nagle, Ian Devane, John McCarthy, Noel Duggan.

Munster Club Intermediate Championship Semi-Final

Kilcummin 2-17 Kilmacthomas 0-1

A comprehensive victory against the Waterford champions in very difficult conditions saw Kilcummin now looking forward to the Munster final. The winners played against the breeze and picked off points on a steady basis, with Noel Duggan (0-2), Gary O Leary (0-2), Philip Casey, Shane McSweeney and Chris O’Leary accounting for those scores. When Noel Duggan finished off a great move to the net any chance of a rally by Kilmacthomas was ended.

The second-half saw much of the same as Kilcummin dominated possession and it became a damage limitation exercise for the outclassed losers. Ian Devane opened the scoring and Noel Duggan quickly followed up but it was another 10 minutes before Kelvin Teahan got the next score. Scoring opportunities were wasted as Kilcummin ran out convincing winners. Noel Duggan and Gary O’Leary added further scores before Mikey O’Shea found the net after a quick slick passing move.

The remaining scores were an O’Leary affair with Gary, Chris and Sean all scoring late points.

Team: Brendan Kealy, Shane McSweeney, Donal Maher, Daniel Moynihan, Sean O’Leary, Philip Casey, William Maher, Kevin Gorman, Chris O’Leary, Gary O’Leary, Matt Keane, Padraig Nagle, Ian Devane, Damien O’Leary, Noel Duggan Subs: Kelvin Teahan (black card) Kieran Murphy, Daniel O’Leary, Sean Brosnan, Mikey O’Shea and James Nagle.

Munster Final

Sunday 25th November

Kilcummin 1-11

Fermoy 1-3

Kilcummin collected their first Munster championship title by defeating Fermoy in Mallow. Noel Duggan opened the scoring with a free but minutes later Fermoy were awarded a penalty from which they scored to go ahead. After a number of missed chances by both sides Fermoy were awarded a second penalty and it wasn’t looking that good for the Kerry champions at this stage. This time Brendan Kealy shepherded the poorly struck effort wide of his right-hand post. A let off for the Kerry side and Noel Duggan responded with a fine point and when Matt Keane tapped over a beauty a minute later they were back on level terms 0-3 to 1-0.

Trailing by a point nearing the end of the half, Sean O’Leary had a goal chance cleared and then Gary O’Leary had a penalty claim waved aside. Kilcummin were unfazed however and added three points before the half time whistle. Firstly Noel Duggan levelled, Matt Keane added his second and then Kevin McCarthy shook off his marker to kick a sublime point to leave the half time score 0-6 to 1-1 in favour of Kilcummin.

The second half got underway with Kelvin Teahan replacing the injured Padraig Nagle and within two minutes Matt Keane kicked his third point to extend Kilcummin’s lead to three. Five minutes later Sean O’Leary increased that lead to four before they lost Noel Duggan to injury. Ian Devane entered the fray as Fermoy convert another free and it was back to three again. Fermoy continue to probe but the Kilcummin defence repelled their best efforts with Brendan Kealy saving superbly while William Maher cleared the follow up off the line. Donal Maher was having a blinder while the cousins Philip Casey and Daniel Moynihan had their opponents under their control.

With ten minutes remaining Kieran Murphy stepped up with a massive point however back came Fermoy with another free to keep their fading hopes alive but when the ever-reliable Philip Casey came forward to kick one of his trademark points the Kerry side were really starting to believe. With three minutes left Gary O’Leary landed a great score following an interception in defence. O’Leary was shown a black card to be replaced for the final minutes by Damien O’Leary

Kilcummin finished strongly however as Daniel O’Leary gathered in defence and set a move in motion that involves six Kilcummin players and culminated with Ian Devane finishing to the net.

Brendan Kealy as player and captain showed once more his All-Star class and leadership qualities. Philip Casey, Donal Maher and Daniel Moynihan were superb and kept their direct opponents scoreless from play. William Maher showed all his astuteness and ability to read a game so well and his clearance off the line was crucial.

Sean O’Leary and Chris O’Leary played a massive role in this victory as they mastered their illustrious opponents over the hour. Kevin Gorman gave an inspirational performance throughout and executed a marvellous catch under the crossbar late in the game. Kieran Murphy was crucial to Kilcummin and his return to form after a long layoff from injury was welcomed. The half forward line of Shane McSweeney, Gary O’Leary and Padraig Nagle put in a great shift helping in defence throughout and getting forward to create scoring opportunities for the full forward line. The inside line of Matt Keane, Noel Duggan and Kevin McCarthy were superb and accounted for seven points between them

Team: Brendan Kealy, Philip Casey, Donal Maher, Daniel Moynihan, Sean O’Leary, Chris O’Leary, William Maher, Kieran Murphy, Kevin Gorman, Shane McSweeney, Gary O’Leary, Padraig Nagle, Matt Keane, Kevin McCarthy, Noel Duggan Subs Used: Kelvin Teahan, Ian Devane, Daniel O’Leary, Damien O’Leary, John McCarthy.

All Ireland Semi-Final

Kilcummin 0-11 Two Mile House (Kildare) 0-10

Kilcummin booked a place at Croke Park on February 9th to contest the All Ireland Intermediate club final after an extremely hard earned but deserved one-point victory over an excellent Two-Mile House on Sunday last in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. Their opponents came with a good reputation having won the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship in 2014 and it showed in the first 10 minutes of this game.

They started confidently and were three points up after eight minutes. However, the opposition lost a key performer in Peter Kelly for a drag back on Kieran Murphy as he was encroaching on goal and this gave a considerable boost to the Kilcummin lads. Kevin Gorman became very influential in midfield and the team responded with some fine positive play resulting in two points from Matt Keane and Noel Duggan to level things up at 3 points each after 15 minutes. Noel Duggan kicked the next two scores but another free from Two Mile showed they had no intention of lying down.

Indeed, it was a very physically demanding encounter and with space at a premium and both defences on top, scores were very hard to come by. Gary O Leary’s second point in the 20th minute saw Kilcummin lead by 0-6 to 0-4 but they needed big interventions from Sean O’Leary and Donal Maher to keep the advantage. The last 10 minutes of the half saw the Kerry men create several chances and play some fast and precise football but they had only two further points from Matt Keane and Noel Duggan to show for them while Two Mile House landed two long range efforts to stay in touch.

Half time arrived with the scoreline 0-8 to 0-6 in the Munster sides favour but as the two teams left the field to great applause, we knew that the second half was going to be a titanic struggle. The Kilcummin defence was particularly outstanding in that first half and despite a nervy start they settled well and every man played a part in them being ahead, having played against the breeze.

As in the first-half Two Mile started the brighter and were level after 40 minutes. Kilcummin missed a good number of scoring opportunities before they were dealt a serious blow in the 42nd minute when Kevin Gorman received a second yellow and they were down to 14 men. This seemed to be a huge wake- up call and the team responded accordingly. Kieran Murphy took a grip at midfield and showed his intentions with a fine long-range point to give his team the lead again after 45 minutes and settle the nerves of the supporters.

Shane McSweeney made some fine interventions when needed and the Kerry champions  appeared to have weathered the crisis of being a man short. The game was intense now with both set of supporters driving on their team and not afraid to let the referee know what they thought of him. Kelvin Teahan replaced Padraig Nagle as Dan Moynihan came to his team’s rescue once more in defence.

Kilcummin rang the changes with Daniel O’Leary and John McCarthy being introduced and both were to make telling interventions in the latter stages with driving runs at their defence. Despite having the greater share of possession they found it hard to break down a determined Two Mile defence who themselves depended a lot on breaking from the back. Chris Healy was their constant target and it took some great defending at times from Chris O’Leary to keep him at bay.

Approaching full time Philip Casey landed a difficult free to see Kilcummin push ahead again but Two Mile were awarded a free in front of the posts which they scored to level affairs at 10 points apiece. The tension was unbelievable as extra time beckoned.

Kevin McCarthy entered the fray in extra-time, but it was the lion hearted, yet cool Philip Casey that landed the winning score as the 1000 or so Kilcummin faithful held their breath many not even able to watch. When the referee blew his whistle there were tears of joy amid the marvellous realisation that their team were going to Croke Park.

Team: Brendan Kealy, Sean O’Leary, Donal Maher, Dan Moynihan, Philip Casey, Chris O’Leary, William Maher, Kieran Murphy, Kevin Gorman, Shane McSweeney, Gary O’Leary, Padraig Nagle, Noel Duggan, Ian Devane, Matt Keane, Subs used: Kelvin Teahan, Daniel O’Leary, John McCarthy and Kevin McCarthy.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT KILCUMMIN?

Matt Keane and Gary O Leary have received All Star awards at the East Kerry GAA Banquet. In July Kieran Murphy captained the Kerry Juniors to All Ireland success with Gary O’Leary also collecting his winner’s medal. August saw Kilcummin promoted to Division 1 following an 11-game campaign finishing second to Austin Stacks.

Sean O’Leary and James Nagle won County championship U-21 medals with East Kerry while in September Paul O’Shea and Keith O’Leary won All-Ireland medals with the Kerry minors with O’Shea captaining the side.

Brendan Kealy in goals is a former Kerry All Star and the team has talented players throughout the side but they are unlikely to have faced a side as fit, fast or deadly than the present St. Enda’s team. The vast expanses of Croke Park will suit the Antrim and Ulster champions and I expect them to repeat the fete of Moy last year and collect a first All Ireland title at this level for an Antrim side.

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