O’Connor Park in Tullamore proved to be the end of the road for Lahardane MacHales in their pursuit for further Junior club football Championship glory. They lost out there this afternoon to Kerry’s Listowel Emmets who were comfortable 1-11 to 0-3 winners in their All-Ireland JFC semi-final meeting.
This was a match in which Lahardane really needed a positive start. Instead it was the Kerry team who settled first, scoring four points without reply. Then, before Lahardane had opened their account, Listowel bagged the game’s only goal and so the task now facing the Mayo and Connacht champions was a daunting one.
By half-time Listowel were ten points clear, leading by 1-8 to 0-1, and there really was no way back for Lahardane at that stage. Listowel won at the finish by eleven points.
Given the structure of club football in Kerry, it’s little wonder that teams from the county have proved so hugely dominant in the Junior club Championship since its inception just over twenty years ago. In fact, since this club Championship was first contested in 2002 Kerry clubs have triumphed on eleven occasions, more than all the other winners combined.
It’s little surprise, then, that Lahardane found the going so tough today. Every team that encounters a club from Kerry in the Junior Championship will, by definition, be up against it and Lahardane are far from the first. They won’t be the last either. Indeed, you’d have to wonder at the value of this competition at all, so weighted it is in one county’s favour.
Lahardane’s focus now turns to their return to Intermediate level this year. Having only just dropped down to Junior before bouncing straight back up, they’ll be well equipped for Intermediate, as their fine run last year showed. Commiserations to them on today’s loss and here’s hoping to good days ahead for them.