Park turned in a stirring second half performance to come from 2-1 down at the break to record an impressive win over their North Kerry opponents. This game was played on the St Brendan’s Park estate pitch which was in excellent shape for the fixture.
Park started with a new-look central defensive pairing of Evan Doody and Ciarán Hattar but the two rookies were soon into their stride and together they gave Park a solid look at the back, with great support from skipper, Killian Moran and full backs Tomás Leen and Kevan Foley.
Playing a new 4-2-3-1 formation, it took Park a while to adjust but with Robbie Dinan and Seán Tansley doing well in the holding roles, it fell to Wale Yusuf, Eamonn Sheehy, Shane McGinley and Donagh O’Brien to look for gaps in the visitor’s rearguard.
Initially, Park sat too deep and the breakthrough came from a set piece when Asdee failed to deal with a McGinley corner and when the ball sat up nicely for O’Brien, the ace-poacher slammed it home from 6 yards.
To their credit, Asdee rallied and took the fight to the Tralee lads. They were rewarded after 25 minutes when a flowing move ended with their centre forward scoring a fine individual goal and within 5 minutes they were in front when Moran managed to get his hands to a 20-yard effort but the power of the strike meant that it still nestled in the top of the net.
Park needed to turn things around at the break and this meant the introduction of Nathan O’Leary and Keelan Pierse into midfield where their passing skills soon had the town side in the ascendancy. Ironically it was route one that led to the equaliser when Doody’s superb long-range free kick from deep in Park’s half found O’Brien just inside the box and the striker controlled the ball on his chest before swivelling to fire a left foot volley beyond the stunned Asdee keeper.
Spurred on by being on level terms, Park upped the tempo and introduced Dillon O’Connor for his debut between the sticks where he was never found wanting for the remainder of the game. Most of the action focused on the Asdee penalty area though and when Park forced another corner, O’Brien heard the advice of Coach, David “Pecker” Doyle and stayed alert to sieze on the loose ball and squeeze home a shot with the help of a ricochet to claim his hat trick.
Park were oozing confidence now and switched to 4-4-2 by introducing Joel Vesey who immediately gave the team a new dimension with his close control and workrate down the right flank. With Pierse, O’Leary and McGinley now playing with more freedom, it fell to the skilful Eamonn Sheehy to put the issue beyond doubt when he slalomed through the Asdee defence and finished superbly to cap a very good all-round performance. Hattar, Leen and Foley were also playing confidently and Doody took the opportunity to “do a Sheehy” and the centre half and “birthday-boy” went on a mazy dribble of his own and only just missed the target, although he perhaps could have squared for the unmarked Tommy Cole who would surely have buried the chance.
Nevertheless, Park pressed on and when Vesey made the bye line and pulled the ball back, it was the supporting O’Leary who placed a fine strike across the keeper into the far corner to seal a deserved victory for the home side.
Park: Moran, Leen, Foley, Doody, Hattar, Dinan, Tansley, Yusuf, Sheehy, McGinley, O’Brien, O’Leary, Pierse, O’Connor, Vesey, Cole, Joe Griffin, Seán Collins.