Park travelled to Killorglin for the fourth meeting of these sides this season to play the semi final of the John Joe Naughton Cup.
The cup is called after one of Park’s finest, who was known to rattle the net for fun, and if he was looking down today he would have been fairly impressed with the two clinical finishes that put Park in the final.
He would have however been a little uneasy early on. Killorglin stormed into the game and had Park on the back foot for most of the first half. They scored through a well worked move in the seventh minute and five minutes later it looked like they had a second but the ref had spotted an offside and Park breathed a sigh of relief.
They then began to play some ball themselves but were finding the tight pitch and longer grass difficult to deal with. But deal with it they did and during a trying first half the work rate from Hanafin, O’Connor, Kearney and O’Connell, Conor Kerins, Messiah Chirwa and Cianan Cooney was outstanding. Adam Wharton, David Feeley and Danny Jeffers were working their socks off but Killorglin were relentless.
They had another effort saved by Liam Carmody just before halftime but the Killorglin lads were worth their lead at the break.
The second half resumed with Park now playing with the elements and they started playing some scintillating soccer. Cianan Cooney was causing some bother for Killorglin on the left and he had a shot narrowly wide on eight minutes before being fouled a couple of minutes later. Colin Doody’s free kick was narrowly wide.
Doody had another fine effort saved shortly after by the young Killorglin keeper who coped very well in the second half under extreme pressure.
Finally the break through came and it had to be Cooney who scored it. Samuel Aladensanusi’s ball to Josh Connolly was flicked on to Cooney who drove an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net and set up a mouth watering last quarter.
Park pressed and despite plenty of pressure from play and dead ball situations they were struggling to find the winner. They found it with three minutes of normal time remaining and what a winner it was.
Messiah Chirwa laid a hard won ball back to Cooney and getting his head up he hit a rocket from 30 yards giving the Killorglin keeper no chance. John Joe surely smiled from above.
For the remaining three of normal time and almost five of additional time the Park lads defended heroically. The O’Connor boys, the Sean’s, Hill and O’Connell as well as Kerins, Doody and every other Park player on the pitch would not let up and it was shouts of joy from the Tralee faithful that greeted the final whistle.
Still a lot of work to do to finish out this season but the effort from all 16 boys today has to be acknowledged and acclaimed.
Thank you to the Ultras on the sideline supporting the boys. As always it’s fantastic to know you are there for the team.
Thanks also to the Killorglin boys for a really good sporting contest. There is nothing between the two teams and the elements certainly played their part today.
Congrats to the Park U-12s on their win yesterday. A special congrats to Padraig and John who have been such a successful management partnership for so many Park teams. Top class season from them again. ‘Mon de Park!!
Panel: Liam Carmody, Ben Hanafin, Samuel Aladesanusi, Seàn Hill, Jack Kearney, Kieran O’Connor, Seàn O’Connell, Conor Kerins, Danny Jeffers, David Feeley, Seàn O’Connor, Josh Connolly, Messiah Chirwa, Adam Wharton, Colin Doody and Cianan Cooney.
Report by Pat Carmody