Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-7 Kerins O’Rahillys 0-6
For a few desperate, darkening seconds, Kilmurry Ibrickane’s dream was in smithereens. One minute of second-half injury time had elapsed and Declan Quill had availed of the added time to fist a David Moran free into Dermot O’Brien’s net, as the goalkeeper came off his line. This Kilmurry team would not have recovered if the goal had stood. Definitely not last Sunday and perhaps never. Where would they find the heart for it in 2010, if they had narrowly lost a second successive Munster final?
Significantly, the umpire neither flinched nor even glanced towards the green flag as O’Rahilly’s implored him to raise it, while Kilmurry pleaded for a square ball.
The umpire and Maurice Condon swapped a few brief words before Condon pointed outfield, having awarded a free to Kilmurry. Dermot O’Brien’s first attempt to take a quick free was deemed to have taken place before Condon’s whistle was heard. The Kilmurry goalkeeper kept his composure though and spotted Mark Killeen on his own with the second free.
With space gaping at the city end of the field, the ball was slipped to Evan Talty, via Ian McInerney and Noel Downes. Displaying nerve and confidence, without which Kilmurry would not be Munster club champions, the Kilmurry substitute imparted an excellent technical kick, which when it landed had fired Kilmurry to their second Munster crown, five years after their maiden provincial title.
Although the thickening clouds were lying low enough to touch, Kilmurry’s celebrations lit up the Gaelic Grounds. On hearing Maurice Condon’s game-ending whistle, they went wild.
And why not? This was a win chiselled directly from a willingness to put the collective before the individual. Playing winning December football in the Gaelic Grounds demands work rate, discipline and an element of luck.
The Kilmurry forwards exemplified the willingness within the panel to work first and play later. While the likes of Martin McMahon and Shane Hickey defended with guile and control, their task was helped by the manner in which the forwards defended from the front, making it difficult for the Tralee men to build from the back.
While Kilmurry won it in late, dramatic circumstances, their first-half display was equally important in winning their second provincial title.
They were fortunate to have been tied at 0-4 each after 30 minutes. The Clare champions were 0-3 to 0-0 down after just eight minutes, while Kerins O’Rahillys kicked nine first-half wides, when playing with a strong breeze.
After John O’Connor, David Moran, who started at full-forward and Declan Quill had pointed the Kerry club 0-3 up, Kilmurry Ibrickane responded with four points inside a 10-minute spell.
Ian McInerney pointed the first two; one after a foul on Peter O’Dwyer and the second from play after he linked up with Stephen Moloney, Odran and Michael O’Dwyer.
Moloney curled over the equaliser in the 17th minute after Callinan and Enda Coughlan had burst forward from the half-back line. Two minutes later, Michael O’Dwyer, who was isolated for much of the first half at full-forward, won a free, which Johnny Daly pointed.
Barry John Keane was playing well at centre-forward for the Tralee men, although the direct ball into David Moran at full-forward, didn’t work. He was subsequently relocated to midfield, where Micheál Quirke caught some excellent ball for the Strand Road team.
Just before half-time, Moran ended a 24-minute scoreless spell for his team after Declan Quill found him with an astute free.
The sides remained deadlocked at 0-4 each for 14 second-half minutes until Quill pointed after Moran had been fouled. However, Shane Hickey equalised with a top-class score from distance two minutes later.
Earlier in the first half, John O’Connor was shown two yellow cards inside two minutes following a couple of incidents with Shane Hickey. Ironically, O’Rahillys played better with 14 men than they had with 15.
A lovely Stephen Moloney cross found Paul O’Connor in space seven minutes from full time. O’Conor fisted Kilmurry into a one-point lead in what is now a trademark effort. He scored the winning point against Doonbeg in the county semi-final with the same fist.
Quill equalised from a dead ball two minutes from time before Mark Killeen played a nice one-two with Enda Coughlan but panicked slightly when he looked up. About 40 yards out Killeen could have gone for his own score but instead he laid it off to substitute Noel Downes, who kicked well wide.
A draw looked inevitable. A minute into injury time, Barry John Walsh was fouled again, as Kilmurry went a bit ragged defensively. The minute that followed was the most dramatic in the history of Kilmurry Ibrickane GAA Club.
Although Micheál McDermott said afterwards that Evan Talty had been going well in training, the identity of the man who kicked the Munster final winning point still needed a double take before confirming who it was.
While the Kilmurry defence was collectively outstanding, Darren Hickey and Declan Callinan, especially in the first half, excelled along with Mark Killeen.
Stephen Moloney kicked a point from play and was involved in creating two more, while Michael O’Dwyer, along with his attacking colleagues, worked himself into the ground in the Ennis Road stadium.
As for Evan Talty’s seismic contribution, who knew?
Kilmurry Ibrickane: Dermot O’Brien; Darren Hickey, Mark Killeen, Martin McMahon; Shane Hickey, Enda Coughlan (captain), Declan Callinan; Paul O’Connor, Peter O’Dwyer; Michael Hogan, Ian McInerney, Stephen Moloney; Michael O’Dwyer, Odran O’Dwyer, Johnny Daly.
Subs: Evan Talty for Michael Hogan (40), Noel Downes for Odran O’Dwyer (47), Peter O’Dwyer for Stephen Moloney and Mark McCarthy for Johnny Daly (60).
Scorers: Ian McInerney (0-2, 1f), Stephen Moloney, Shane Hickey, Paul O’Connor and Evan Talty (0-1 each) and Johnny Daly 0-1f.
Frees won: 18. Wides: 7.
Yellow cards: Mark Killeen and Declan Callinan.
Kerins O’Rahillys: David Hennessy; Pat Begley, Morgan O’Shea, Barry O’Shea; Giles O’Grady, Brian Moran, Ross O’Callagahan; Gavin Duffy, Micheál Quirke (captain); John O’Connor, Barry John Keane, Timmy O’Sullivan; Barry John Walsh, David Moran, Declan Quill.
Scorers: Declan Quill (0-3f), David Moran (0-2) and John O’Connor (0-1f).
Frees won: 26. Wides: 11.
Yellow cards: Giles O’Grady and John O’Connor.
Red card: John O’Connor.
Referee: Maurice Condon (Waterford).
Relief for O’Brien as goal disallowed
Although Kilmurry Ibrickane goalkeeper Dermot O’Brien was central to Declan Quill’s late disallowed goal, he had perhaps the worst view of what had happened.
O’Brien came off his line in an effort to fist David Moran’s dropping free to safety. With the game tied at 0-6 apiece, any slip or misjudgement would have finished Kilmurry.
“When I was coming out, I don’t know did I slip or what happened,” O’Brien told The Clare Champion afterwards.
“I just saw the ball coming and I went to fist it. Then I looked back into the net and there was the ball. But I heard nearly every Kilmurry player saying it was a square ball. To be honest, I don’t know. I didn’t see it but once I saw the ref’s hand going up, I knew it was a good opportunity because I saw seven or eight Kerins O’Rahillys lads around the ref and the umpire,” he added.
In his haste to find a free man, O’Brien took the resultant free before Maurice Condon blew his whistle.
“The first free I took, I think I hit it to Paul O’Dwyer. Then the referee blew it back because he hadn’t the whistle blown. As soon as I got the ball back again, I saw Mark Killeen in front of me and I just kicked it out to him. He was on his own. I looked down the field and I could see seven or eight of our lads and maybe four or five from Kerins O’Rahillys, so I said this is a great opportunity for an overlap. Time was ticking away so it was going to be the last play of the game. In 10 seconds there was a huge turnaround. For a minute there, emotions were all over the place,” he recalled.
Such were the conditions in Limerick, O’Brien had to warm up outside of the goal area. “I don’t know what it was like outfield but anything inside the six yard box was very, very soft. I even had to go to the outside of the goals just to do a warm-up because I was slipping all over the place. A high ball coming in, you could have lost your footing very easy and the ball could have gone anywhere,” he explained.
The Kilmurry goalkeeper felt that his side’s strength in depth stood to them when they needed input from the bench. Kerins O’Rahillys didn’t introduce a single substitute.
“This year, you could see that the depth and experience of the panel we had was unbelievable. We could bring on any of 15 lads. Even at training, the intensity is so tough.
“Everyone is trying to make their place on the team and that stood to us, I think, today. Everyone was outstanding today, even the lads that came on. Even when the forwards hadn’t the ball they were like defenders,” noted O’Brien, who has now won two Munster club medals.
Match winner can’t believe it
Kicking the winning point in a Munster club final didn’t immediately result in Evan Talty likening himself to Maurice Fitzgerald or Peter Canavan.
In fact, Talty’s description of his injury-time match winner, was a commendable exercise in self-effacement. If he’d had a choice of people to find themselves all alone 40 yards from goal, the last Kilmurry Ibrickane footballer Evan Talty would have picked would have been Evan Talty.
“I came on against Drom-Broadford and I’d two horrendous wides. The last thing I wanted to do was have to shoot and then when Noel Downes popped it to me, I said ‘What are you doing?’ Jesus above, of all people, to be passing to me,” he said laughing at the memory, which was just minutes old.
“I can’t remember too much about it to be honest. I just looked up and I saw it going between the two posts. I just said either way if I kill the ball, it’ll be a bonus and luckily enough it went over,” Talty added.
About eight minutes earlier, Paul O’Connor had fisted Kilmurry 0-6 to 0-5 ahead. The score was a replica of the point that beat Doonbeg in the county semi-final.
“I think Paul, like myself, knows that we’re not the best kickers. If I could have fisted it, I would have done it myself,” Talty claimed, clearly not believing that it had fallen to himself and O’Connor to slot over such critical scores.
Kilmurry, Talty says, are as united off the field as they are driven and focused on it. “This team has been together for two years solid. We’re together all the time and we’re the best of friends off the field. You saw Noel Downes there today. He was injured but he was out there. It’s just brilliant camaraderie. To win this, for me, is even better than 2004. To put the second one on the board for Clare football is just brilliant,” he maintained.
A year ago, Kilmurry couldn’t remove their head from their hands. Last Sunday evening, the mid-winter chill passed unnoticed as Kilmurry supporters trampled joyously all over the Gaelic Grounds.
“This time last year we were in the dressing room crying and everything. We never put the heads down there. We kept to our game plan. We kept working it short until we got into a scoring position,” Kilmurry’s last gasp match winner concluded.