Two weeks is a long time in football, as county league kingpins Dingle found to their cost, coming a cropper against an inspired Spa in their opening Group 1 encounter in the Kerry Senior Club FC at Strand Road in Tralee.
Fresh from retaining their league crown with a play-off victory over Dr Crokes a fortnight ago, the West Kerry side went into this clash on the crest of a wave, but an insipid first-half performance put them behind the eight-ball from the output.
With former inter-county panellist Liam Kearney a buccaneering totem in the middle of the park, and the slaloming, direct running of David Spillane causing consternation in the Dingle defense, Spa made light of the absence of injured Kerry star Dara Moynihan.
Superbly organized at the back, with Dan O’Donoghue and Shane Cronin consistent in the central positions, Kearney at his imposing best further out, and Evan Cronin and Mike Foley providing invaluable support to two-goal hero Spillane, the East Kerry men were deserving. victors.
Spa led by four points (1-4 to 0-3) after a totally forgettable first half, Spillane finding the net in the 28th minute after an excellent Kearney turnover led to the Spa number 15 bursting away from his marker, then jinking past Dingle goalkeeper Gavin Curran, and slotting into the empty net.
Dingle were so soporific in attack that they went over 20 minutes without a score, Paul Geaney operating in too deep a role to worry Spa, with the Killarney side also filtering bodies back to cut out the supply to towering full-forward Barry O’Sullivan .
The contest had to improve on the resumption, and it did, with Paul and Dylan Geaney bursting into life up front for the westerners with some beautiful points. Yet, despite coming under increasing pressure, Spa managed to keep their composure, with the imperious Kearney continuing to lead the charge.
The pivotal moment of the game arrived in the 49th minute when the aforementioned Spa midfielder was brought to the ground, for the umpteenth time, after another powerful gallop. This time, however, it led to a penalty, dispatched by Spillane, with a black card issued to Dingle’s Ruan McCarthy.
Five points to the good (2-8 to 0-9), and with an extra man for ten minutes, Spa were pretty much home and hosed, and although Dingle kept battling until the finish, a third goal for the winners, from the wing – forward Ryan Carroll near the end, put the seal on a very impressive win.
M Foley 0-6 (0-4 fs), D Spillane 2-0 (1-0 pen), R Carroll 1-0, S Cronin (’45), E Cronin, L Spillane 0-1 each.
P Geaney 0-6 (0-3 fs, 0-1 mk), P Sheehy, D Geaney 0-2 each, B O’Sullivan (mk), M Geaney, C Bambury 0-1 each.
J Devane; E O’Donoghue, D O’Donoghue, E Fitzgerald; S Lynch, S Cronin, G Vaughan; L Kearney, C Spillane; R Carroll, E Cronin, C Stack; C Murphy, M Foley, D Spillane.
C Tobin for Stack (53 mins), B Lynch for S Lynch (60 mins), M O’Donoghue for D Spillane (60 mins), L Spillane for E O’Donoghue (60+4 mins).
G Curran; M Flannery, C O’Sullivan, P O’Connor; C Flannery, T O’Sullivan, M Geaney; B O’Sullivan, D O’Sullivan; G Durrant, R McCarthy, T de Brun; P Sheehy, D Geaney, P Geaney.
L O’Connor for D O’Sullivan (ht), N Geaney for de Brun (ht), M Flaherty for Sheehy (53 mins), A O’Connor for M Flannery (53 mins), C Bambury for McCarthy (59 mins ).
B Griffin (Clownmacon).