By Mike Fitzpatrick
This senior football B semifinal was a thrilling game which finally resulted in a last gasp victory for Longford, but it was never a match where one could have predicted the outcome. The lead changed hands on numerous occasions throughout the contest, with Kerry grabbing the lead through Colm Wilson’s expert free taking and stirring performances from Mike Carmody in midfield, and Robbie Dowd in goal.
Brendan Donoghue opened the scoring early on in the second half with a point for Longford, only to see Kerry’s Wilson equalize after only a few minutes.
Further points from Longford’s on-form Kevin Lilly, Ross Carr and a great solo effort from Brendan Lennon gave Kerry a commanding, if a tad flattering lead early on in this game. Lennon’s point resulted in the combination of some strong shirking off of Kerry’s challenges, and some extra speed on his behalf to give the Longford men a four point lead.
All this seemed to do however was stir Kerry on toward a fine performance late in the first half. Midfielder Willie O’Donnell added to Kerry’s tally after good unselfish play by Padraig O’Gorman and Wilson himself got in on the action with another point before the break.
A superb drive followed this flurry seeing Wilson slam the ball in to the net after amazing work on the right flank by O’Connor. Despite a free kick from Lilly, which sailed over the bar for another Longford point, and a point from Phil Bermingham, which bounced lightly over the bar having seen his shot toward goal seemingly lose pace in mid-air much to his delight, Kerry went in at half time two points in front, 1-5 to 0-6.
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The second half opened at a slower pace, with both sides seeming a little cautious. Ross Carr’s first effort of the second half sailed over the bar for Longford’s seventh to bring the game to within one point, only to see Kerry substitute Ciaran Cull reply almost immediately to inform Longford that Kerry meant business. Donaghue scored one more point for Longford after holding on to the ball in a tussle with his marker, and Wilson replied with a free kick after having had his teammate O’Donnell fouled.
Wilson, Kerry’s reliable free taker, scored another minutes later in this game which Kerry suddenly began thinking that they would win. Leading by 1-8 to 0-8, Kerry began to slip defensively, allowing such dangerous players as Lilly and Lennon to get forward. It was, predictably, Lilly who did score next. After good interactive teamwork between Lennon and Brian O’Connor, Lilly found himself twice in scoring position, and, much to Kerry’s dismay, he took full advantage both times. But for Robbie Dowd in the Kerry goal, Lennon’s inevitable equalizer would have come a lot sooner. Kerry allowed Longford back into a game in which they should really not have been allowed.
When Longford’s Dermot McCabe scored the winning point in the closing minutes, nobody was more delighted than the scrappy Longford lads, or more disappointed than the desperately unlucky Kerry team and the outstanding Padraig O’Connor.
Kerry: Robbie Dowd, Niall Sugrue, Adrian Riley, Paul Dillon, Kenneth Leen, Padraic O’Connor, Peter Riney, Willie O’Donnell, Gerry McElligott, Mike Carmody, ‘neas O’Leary, Kevin Shalvey, Timmy Foley, Colm Wilson, Tommy Mannion.
Scorers: Wilson 1-6, O’Donnell 0-1, Cull 0-1.
Longford: Gerry Fox, Declan Humphries, Terry Farley, Phil Bermingham, Des McGoldrick, Brendan Considine, Barry Kavanagh, Dermot McCabe, Brendan Lennon, Brendan Donoghue, Ross Carr, Brian O’Connor, Kevin Lilly, Collie Baul, Mike McKenna. Sub: Mike McGoldrick.
Scorers: Donoghue 0-2, Lilly 0-4, McCabe 0-1, Lennon 0-2, Bermingham 0-1, Carr 0-2.