Sport can be cruel, particularly penalties after 90 minutes of football, and sudden-death even more cruel again. Delight for one team, bitter disappointment for another. So, it was with irony that, with the last kick of the game, arguably Kilbrin’s best player on the night, failed to see the back of the net, sending Garnish into a semi final by the slimmest of margins.
There were hero’s, of course, for Garnish – Jack Andy, Jerome O’Dwyer and Cian O’Neill running ’till their legs could carry them no further; Eanna Murphy and Tommy O’Sullivan, marshalling the talented Will Heffernan in front of goal and, Captain, Ross Murphy pulling off the penalty save to keep Garnish in the competition. Yet, in truth, whilst faith tipped the result in Garnish’ favour, further improvements are required if this current generation of players are to advance beyond a semi-final. Sean Terry, Rory O’Driscoll and Fintan JL clocked up 1-4 in the first quarter with only an Eoin Sheehan free in response. Yet, slowly Kilbrin came into the game and Sean O’Reilly’s bullet to the back of the net on 28 minutes was a key tipping point. With Heffernan drifting out, Kilbrin’s corner forwards found more space. For the second quarter, Garnish dug deep, holding Kilbrin to a scoreline of 1-6 to 1-2 at half-time. Despite Darren Deery’s introduction, the third quarter belonged to Kilbrin, looking the fitter team and outscoring scoring Garnish 1-2 to to 0-1. Hugh Suanais brought a freshness to the forward line and a late sending off gave the Garnish players a numerical advantage, yet they failed to put away the opposition. Full-Time: Garnish 1-8 Kilbrin 2-5.
To their credit, Garnish bounced back in extra-time. Darragh Henshaw and Paul Neill started to get forward more and Jamie O’Driscoll worked really hard, slowing Kilbrin’s attack. 3 points up at sos uisce and it started to look like Garnish’ day. Yet, mistakes allowed the Duhallow side back into the match for a second time and a moment of indiscipline gave Will Heffernan the final-free of the match in the dying seconds, which he duly pointed, sending the game to penalties. Dave Griffin saved from Brian Terry. In response, Ross Murphy saved from Shane Crowley. On to sudden death! Paul O’Neill converted and with that final kick of the ball, there was that brief moment of elation for the Béara side.
It is almost a quarter of a century since Ollie Rue lifted the Andy Scannel cup for the Béara division. Some of the current Garnish players have only heard the focklore. Perhaps, if they can chase those extra inches of improvement over the coming weeks, they might give him his sweetest football memories of all and the tide can turn again. In the words of one astute politician: Is féidir linn ach tá go leor oibre le déanamh againn!
Ross Murphy (Cpt), Matthew O’Leary, Eanna Murphy, Tommy O’Sullivan, Darragh Henshaw, Paul O’Neill (0-1), Jack Andy, Jerome O’Dwyer, Brian Terry, Rory O’Driscoll (0-2), Cian O’Neill, Sean Terry (1-3), Fintan JL O’Sullivan (0-2), John O’Dwyer, Dylan Henshaw. Subs: Darren Deery, Jamie O’Driscoll, Ollie O’Sullivan, Hugh Suanais