REPORT/PHOTOS: Na Gaeil Heartache As They Fall To Firies Firepower

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Firies 3-12

Na Gaeil 0-18

Pat Browne drops to his knees while James O’Donoghue also celebrates after Firies win on Saturday against Na Gaeil. Photo by Dermot Crean

THE agony and the ecstasy.

Na Gaeil failed to reach the final of the Junior Premier Championship because they didn’t get goals. It’s a simple way of looking at it, but Firies ability to breach their defence for three-pointers was essentially the difference.

That’s not to say Firies didn’t deserve their victory in the semi-final yesterday in Castleisland Desmonds GAA grounds, in front of a good crowd of supporters from both clubs.

Firies were sharp, focussed, clinical in their shooting and showed no little guile all over the park, despite a game comeback in the fourth quarter from the Oakpark side.

Continued below…

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Na Gaeil must be devastated after this. Having come so close last year against Glenbeigh/Glencar, they ticked all the boxes for another final appearance at least after a successful league campaign where they were Division 3 champs and have Kerry stars at senior, under 21 and minor grades littered around the field.

Firies, who finished an average campaign in Division 4 had other, lofty, ideas. Despite a great start the East Kerry side suffered two early setbacks.

After Eoin O’Neill opened the scoring for Na Gaeil after 30 seconds, Firies hit back with a Colm O’Shea point a minute later and then Jack Sherwood ran through the Oakpark side’s defence to strike a goal.

Firies No.10 Jack Sherwood blasts their first goal. Photo by Dermot Crean

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Three minutes gone, 1-1 to 0-1. Almost immediately after the kickout, Sherwood was black carded for a foul and Firies had lost a key player. Minutes later, Shane O’Donoghue also saw black for a misdemeanour.

Jack Sherwood is black carded. Photo by Dermot Crean

Firies were the more composed side though and Padraig de Brún, Donnchadh O’Sullivan, Pat Browne and Colm O’Shea had them up 1-5 to 0-3 and looking worth that five point lead after 24 minutes, the Na Gaeil points in that period coming  from Darragh Carmody and Diarmuid Herlihy.

Na Gaeil narrowed the gap with Jack Barry and Michael Griffin scoring two points in as many minutes. Injury time saw Donnchadh O’Sullivan and Niall Donohue with fine scores while Michael Griffin’s effort made sure Na Gaeil were four points behind at the break.

Jack Barry and Liam Brosnan contest a kickout. Photo by Dermot Crean

The half-time rest seemed to do Na Gaeil some good as they came out looking sharp with more purpose to their play. They were level by the 37th minute with Eoin O’Neill, Darragh Carmody (free) and two from Diarmuid Herlihy — who was looking very lively — bringing parity and the Tralee team seemed to be getting into a groove.

Then disaster struck for them as some terrific work by Conal Murphy saw him blast the ball past Timmy Culloty for a fine goal on 39 minutes. He followed it up with a point a minute later and Na Gaeil had it all to do again.

Conal Murphy rattles the net for Firies second. Photo by by Dermot Crean

Firies showed their ruthlessness when — following a Seamie O’Neill score from Na Gaeil — Donnchadh O’Sullivan worked his way in from the right to shoot another three pointer.

It was 3-8 to 0-11 now and Na Gaeil were rocked. Two frees from Darragh Carmody settled them but there was still much to do. Donnchadh O’Sullivan responded to make it a four point game on 48 minutes.

Na Gaeil were beginning to dominate now and Eoin O’Neill’s rasping shot from distance bounced out from the crossbar was a let-off for Firies. Darragh Carmody’s frees were keeping them in touch though and on 57 minutes they had reduced the gap to two and the comeback looked on.

However sub William Courtney and Donnchadh O’Sullivan made sure of the win for Firies, with a late free from Carmody reducing the margin to three at the end.

Seamie O’Neill attempts to pass Pat Browne. Photo by Dermot Crean

The relief and joy at the final whistle showed that this victory was a hard fought one by the underdogs who now face Dromid Pearses in the final. SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE PHOTOS

Padraig O’Connor, James O’Donoghue and Pat Browne celebrate at the final whistle. Photo by Dermot Crean

Scorers:

Firies: Donnchadh O’Sullivan 1-5 (0-2 frees), Conal Murphy 1-1, Jack Sherwood 1-0, Colm O’Shea 0-2, Niall Donohue, Pat Browne, William Courtney, Padraig de Brúin 0-1 ech.

Na Gaeil: Darragh Carmody 0-8 frees, Diarmuid Herlihy 0-3, Jack Barry, Micheal Griffin and Eoin O’Neill 0-2 each, Seamie O’Neill 0-1.

James O’Donoghue tries to block Dara Devine’s shot. Photo by Dermot Crean

Jamie Lowhan passed to Andrew Barry. Photo by Dermot Crean

Diarmuid Herlihy tackled by Padraig O’Connor. Photo by Dermot Crean

Kieran O’Donovan seeks a teammate chased by Padraig de Brún. Photo by Dermot Crean

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