By Mike Fitzpatrick
Rockland 0-7, Kerry 2-20
Rockland’s fairy tale season came to a crashing end in this senior football championship semi final as Kerry turned on the style at Gaelic Park on Sunday.
The Rockies, only a junior team last season, first shocked the Gaelic Park regulars by clinching the second division championship after coming through with some fine displays of football. As if that wasn’t enough, they then defeated Stamford, a side some felt were dark horses for the championship. The Rockland dream went on, but if anybody thought that lightening could strike twice and they could defeat mighty Kerry, well, take a look at the scoreline.
Kerry came out fighting with practically a full strength side, and stars such as Bingo Driscoll, Willie O’Donnell and Paddy O’Connor made sure that the Kingdom would make this year’s senior championship final a repeat of last year’s, when they met up with Donegal in the final.
Rockland opened the tie as arguably the stronger side, doing more of the attacking. Alas, they could not convert all their forward efforts into dents on the scoreboard, and Kerry were off the hook. The defensive line of Paul Galvin, Adrian Riney and Paddy O’Connor prevented Rockland from taking the lead, and some bad luck in front of the posts proved to be the upstate sides downfall.
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Midway through the opening half, Kerry upped the tempo, with Sean Og O’hAilpin orchestrating things from the middle of the park, and Bingo Driscoll banging points in from every angle imaginable.
At half time, the Munster side led by an eight point margin, and the win looked almost assured.
Dave McSweeney’s introduction after half time proved to make a massive difference as he ran riot, making some telling moves forward.
Kerry eventually ran out winners emphatic nineteen point victors, and the message to Donegal is clear, come and have a go, if you think you’re good enough. An eagerly anticipated final will take place next Sunday, between the two best sides in New York.
Miss this one at your peril.
Rockland: Jimmy Dwyer, Dermot Yorke, Jimmy O’Flynn, Tom O’Riordan, Tommy Acton, Ronan Keane, Shay Forbes, Paddy Corcoran, Tom McHugh, Dave Fitzgerald (0-2), Gerry O’Riordan, Damien O’Brien, Ger Heavin (0-3), Mike Joe Hennessy, Mike Fitzpatrick (0-1). Subs: Billy Horan (0-1), Mike Healy, Sean Roche.
Kerry: Finbarr Flood, Paul Galvin, Adrian Riney, Paul Dillon, Paddy O’Connor, Johnny Driscoll, Peter Riney, Willie O’Donnell (0-2), Sean Og O’hAilpin (1-2), Mike Carmody (0-2), Liam Hartnett, Bingo Driscoll (0-7), Dave McCarthy (0-1), John Crowley (1-3), Paudie Mulvihill (0-1). Subs: Damien Finn, Kieran Cull, Mark Fitzgerald (0-2), Jake Rooney, Dave McSweeney.