Kilmoyley 1-14 St Brendan's Ardfert 1-11
A nervy three-point winning margin was good enough for Kilmoyley to defend their Kerry senior hurling championship title against neighbours and half-parishioners, St Brendans, in tense final that, while no classic, gave the reigning champions their 26th county title and sends them to the top of the roll of honour.
Several thousand made their way into Austin Stack Park in Tralee for the most derbyish of derbies as the men from Lerrig put their title on the line against the men from Ardfert just a few fields over the road, and in the end the champions did what champions do: they drew on all their experience and nous to rise to the challenge when the test was greatest.
Trailing by four points at half time, the champions were given a major gut-check by a team seeking their first title in eight years, with Kevin Hanafin's goal right on the stroke of half-time giving St Brendans a 1-8 to 0-7 interval lead and something to really go at in the second half.
By the eighth minute of the second period St Brendans were six points to the good, 1-10 to 0-7, and the sizeable Ardfert contingent in the partisan crowd had every right to be giddy.
However, no sooner had St Brendans started to see the finishing - and winning? - line than Kilmoyley started to time their home-stretch run to perfection. The next five points were theirs, reaching the second water break just one in arrears, 1-10 to 0-12, and one could almost see the Ardfert men swallow hard as they felt Kilmoyley's collective breath on their necks.
Substitute Brendan O'Connor mined St Brendans first score in 16 for brief respite, but Paudie O’Connor hit back immediately for the champions, before they struck for their decisive play.
The excellent Tom Murnane placed in county man Maurice O'Connor for a smart goal to edge the champions in front, 1-13 to 1-11, and there was a palpable sense that the tide had turned irrevocably against the challengers.
St Brendans though - like their footballers - never know when they're beaten and gritted their teeth for one last push. Hanafin had the sliotar in the Kilmoyley net again, only for the score to be ruled out for a 'square' infringement.
Adrian Royle tidied up matters for the champions-elect with a late score to underscore a resolute display from the Lerrig men.
St Brendans will take no consolation from any moral victory here, and they will rue missed chances that could and would have been game changers. Having led 0-4 to 0-3 at the first water break, they would have been reasonably pleased with that four-point half time lead, albeit playing with a decent wind at their backs.
Those early points after the resumption were necessary, but so too was the goal that John Egan should have scored early in the second half but didn't, and Kilmoyley are never a team to show forgiveness.
Kerry captain Daniel Collins landed five frees over the hour, Daire Nolan landed two fine scores, Royle scored a brace off the bench, and it all added up to a workmanlike win for Kilmoyley who move one ahead of Ballyduff with title no.26.
Kilmoyley: John Brendan O’Halloran, Dónal Kennedy, Colman Savage, Flor McCarthy, James Godley, Dougie Fitzell, Tom Murnane, Paudie O’Connor (0-02), Matthew Flaherty, Jordan Brick (0-01), Daniel Collins (0-06, 5f), Dáire Nolan (0-02), David McCarthy, Robert Collins, Maurice O’Connor (1-01).
Subs: Ronan Walsh for R Collins (ht), Adrian Royle (0-02) for D McCarthy (38).
St Brendan's: Darren Delaney, Pádraig O’Sullivan (0-01), Killian Wolff, Stephen Leen, Kevin Orpen, Fionán Mackessy (0-02), Darren Dineen, Eric Leen, Dáithí Griffin, Kevin Hanafin (1-00), Pádraig Kearney, John Egan, Seán Brosnan (0-02), Seamus O’Halloran, Cian Hussey (0-05, 3f)
Subs: Fionan Horgan for S Leen (48), Brendan O’Connor (0-01) for K Orpen (50), Eoghan Kearney for P O’Sullivan (53), Nathan O’Driscoll for S O’Halloran (55).
Referee: Mike Sexton (Limerick)