Feenagh-Kilmeedy booked their place in the Munster Club JHC semi-final on Sunday thanks to a 2-8 to 0-9 win over Kerry’s Kenmare Shamrocks.
An afternoon of incessant rain turned this Munster junior hurling quarter-final into a swamp fight and the hosts had that edge in finishing options over their Kerry opponents to progess to meet Clare champions Bodyke next Sunday.
Goals at crucial moments were a big help. The first, ten minutes before the break, gave them a lead going into the dressing rooom despite playing into the strong wind. The second, two minutes from time from a harmless-looking free floating into the square from inside their own half, stopped a Kenmare rally that had reduced the deficit to two.
But even if they hadn’t raised the game’s only green flags, the Limerick champions always looked the more likely to succeed. Thirteen wides to their opponents’ five showed their superior ability to create the openings despite no more than breaking even in terms possession and, under pressure, their backs had a better understanding of when and where to commit themselves.
If there was a worry, it was the number of frees conceded that kept the Kerrymen in touch. James Duncan chalked up over half of the Shamrocks’ haul as he sent five of them between the posts while, apart from their late goal, Feenagh depended on just a single point from placed balls. Once they ran at the opposing defence, the confident touch of John O’Gorman, Gerard O’Gorman and Liam Lynch allowed them to draw the marker and lay off with precision despite the awful conditions.
Kenmare made the most of the wind from the throw-in as Paul O’Connor twice pooped up for the pass to send between the posts. Feenagh fared better when they started to run with the ball rather than driving it forward as John O’Gorman and John Gaffney put them level. Their big break came when O’Gorman split the middle of the defence before laying off to Liam Lynch to drive to the net but they failed to build on it as Fionán O’Sullivan came out to add to the Shamrocks midfield and the scrappy ball won under the puckout led to his side wiping out the deficit through a pair of James Duncan frees either side of Kevin O’Sullivan.
The Limerick side fared better once they got out of their own half and after Lynch sent his attempt at a second goal just inches wide of the upright, Diarmuid Coleman restored a lead that would have been more had they not missed a run of chances. Kieran Fitzgibbon punished their waste when splitting the posts from halfway but, with the last puck of the first half, O’Gorman shot Feenagh into a half-time lead of 1-4 to 0-6.
As Kenmare resumed without the injured Fionán O’Sullivan who had been their most effective attacker, they fell further behind to a long O’Gorman strike before Duncan’s free brought the gap back to the minimum. However, Gerard O’Gorman was now putting his stamp on midfield and, when he, John O’Gorman and he again found the target, it looked as if the Kilmeedy club had finally taken control. However, the Kerrymen refused to lie down and, even though they were relieved to see another Lynch goal chance drift wide, a pair of Duncan frees pulled the gap back to two.
However, with the rain pouring down, the spaces were refusing to open up to the forwards. The Feenagh defence held as Kenmare’s cracked under a 80-metre Edward Murphy free floating into the top corner of Séanus Mac Gearailt’s net and hopes of a Kerry breakthrough were left to wait for another season.
SCORERS – Feenagh-Kilmeedy: Liam Lynch, Edward Murphy (free) 1-0 each, John O’Gorman 0-3, Diarmuid Coleman (0-1 free), Gerard O’Gorman 0-2 each, John Gaffney 0-1; Kenmare Shamrocks: James Duncan 0-5 (all frees), Paul O’Connor 0-2, Kevin O’Sullivan, Kieran Fitzgibbon 0-1 each.
FEENAGH-KILMEEDY: Daniel Egan; Nelius Irwin, Liam Murphy, James O’Regan; Bryan Hannigan, Edward Murphy, John Gaffney; Donal Harrold, Gerard O’Gorman; Diarmuid Coleman, Peter Irwin, John O’Gorman; Liam Lynch, Jimmy O’Sullivan, Darragh Kiely. Sub: John Coleman for Bryan Hannigan (47 mins).
KENMARE SHAMROCKS: Séamus Mac Gearailt; Tommy O’Sullivan, Maurice Fitzgerald, Aidan Quinlan; Aidan Crowley, Alan O’Leary, Michael O’Sullivan; Colm O’Sullivan, Shane Duncan; James Duncan, Paul O’Connor, Fionán O’Sullivan; Kevin O’Sulllivan, Kieran Fitzgibbon, Liam O’Shea. Subs: David Crowley for Aidan Crowley (inj 10 mins), Denis O’Sullivan for Fionán O’Sullivan (inj half-time), Jimmy Wharton for Kieran Fitzgibbon (45 mins).
REFEREE: Paul Foley (Waterford)