All-Ireland Intermediate Semi-Final: Kilcummin 0-11 Two Mile House (Kildare) 0-10
We booked a place at Croke Park on February 9th to contest the All Ireland Intermediate club final after an extremely hard earned but deserved one-point victory over an excellent Two-Mile House on Sunday last in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds. Their opponents came with a good reputation having won the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship in 2014 and it showed in the first 10 minutes of this game.
They started confidently and were three points up after eight minutes. However, the opposition lost a key performer in Peter Kelly for a drag back on Kieran Murphy as he was encroaching on goal and this gave a considerable boost to the Kilcummin lads. Kevin Gorman became very influential in midfield and the team responded with some fine positive play resulting in two points from Matt Keane and Noel Duggan to level things up at 3 points each after 15 minutes. Noel Duggan kicked the next two scores but another free from Two Mile showed they had no intention of lying down.
Indeed, it was a very physically demanding encounter and with space at a premium and both defences on top, scores were very hard to come by. Gary O Leary’s second point on the 20th minute saw us lead by 0-6 to 0-4 but they needed big interventions from Sean O’Leary and Donal Maher to keep the advantage. The last 10 minutes of the half saw us create several chances and play some fast and precise football but we only two further points from Matt Keane and Noel Duggan to show for them while Two Mile House landed two long range efforts to stay in touch.
Half time arrived with the scoreline 0-8 to 0-6 in our favour but as the two teams left the field to great applause, we knew that the second half was going to be a titanic struggle. Our defence was particularly outstanding in that first half and despite a nervy start they settled well and every man played a part in us being ahead, having played against the breeze.
As in the first-half Two Mile started the brightest and were level after 40 minutes. We missed a good number of scoring opportunities before we were dealt a serious blow in the 42nd minute when Kevin Gorman received a second yellow and were down to 14 men. This seemed to be a huge wake- up call and the team responded accordingly. Kieran Murphy took a grip on midfield and showed his intentions with a fine long-range point to give his team the lead again after 45 minutes and settle the nerves of the supporters.
Shane McSweeney as he had done over the years made some fine interventions when needed and we appeared to have weathered the crisis of being a man short. The game was intense now with both set of supporters driving on their team and not afraid to let the referee know what they thought of him. Kelvin Teahan replaced Padraig Nagle as Dan Moynihan came to his team’s rescue once more in defence.
Kilcummin rang the changes with Daniel O’Leary and John McCarthy being introduced and both were to make telling interventions in the latter stages with driving runs at their defence. Despite having the greater share of possession we found it hard to break down a determined Two Mile defence who themselves depended a lot on breaking from the back. Chris Healy was their constant target and it took some great defending at times from Chris O’Leary to keep him at bay.
Approaching full time Philip Casey landed a difficult free to see us push ahead again but when the referee ran in 60 metres to give Two Mile a free in front of the posts which they scored to level affairs at 10 points apiece. The tension was unbelievable as extra time beckoned. Both sets of supporters cheered every intervention but our supporters who had the upper hand here and encouraged their lads on in the extra seven minutes added on.
Kevin McCarthy entered the fray in extra-time, but it was the lion hearted, yet cool Philip Casey that landed the winning score as the 1000 or so Kilcummin faithful held their breath many not even able to watch. When the referee blew his whistle there were tears of joy amid the marvellous realisation that their team were going to Croke Park.
Our lads showed huge resilience throughout this game and that was due to a massive team performance and inner belief with no little help from our supporters.
Team: Brendan Kealy, Sean O’Leary, Donal Maher, Dan Moynihan, Philip Casey, Chris O’Leary, William Maher, Kieran Murphy, Kevin Gorman, Shane McSweeney, Gary O’Leary, Padraig Nagle, Noel Duggan, Ian Devane, Matt Keane, Subs used: Kelvin Teahan, Daniel O’Leary, John McCarthy and Kevin McCarthy.
Whatever about our team and management this surely was a day of huge tension and expressed emotions. We set out on the journey to Limerick wondering how the day would unfold.
Would we succumb to a team that we knew would be fit and well drilled, would we fail to reach the hallowed ground of Croke Park or should we have confidence and belief in our own team’s ability to get the result necessary to have us all scrambling for time off, accommodation and transport for an All-Ireland Final on February 9th.
In the end we need not have worried as our lads showed huge character and no little resilience in the face of adversity to take us on a trip of a lifetime and a date with destiny.