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Rock so near and yet so far as Kerry champions snatch title at the death

Rock 1-11 - Glenbeigh-Glencar 1-14

By Kevin Kelly

Tyrone and Ulster champions Rock's hopes of a first ever All-Ireland Junior championship title ended in disappointment at Croke Park yesterday afternoon, when they lost out to Kerry champions Glenbeigh-Glencar.

It was a real battle from start to finish in Dublin, with Rock recovering from conceding an early goal to move two points clear in the final quarter.

They couldn't hold on though, in a game where they finished with just a dozen players, the winners ending with only 14.

With normal time up the sides were level, but the Munster champions tagged on three points in injury time to finish winners, as Rock lost out in the decider for the second time in their history.

There was less than two minutes gone on the clock when Glencar full forward Gavin O'Grady burst through before offloading the ball to Kerry star Darran O'Sullivan, who finished in style to the back of the Rock net.

The same player tagged on a point before Rock got into their stride with a Conor McCreesh point from play being followed by a brace of Aidan McGarrity frees before the end of the opening quarter.

Fergal Griffin, Kieran Courtney and O'Grady had points for the Kerrymen with McCreesh responding for Rock before the Tyrone champions were dealt a blow in the 22nd minute when they lost midfielder Enda McWilliams to a second booking.

Despite that setback, they rallied with scores from Ciaran Gourley and McGarrity before it became 14-a-side each when Daniel Griffin was straight red carded.

Either side of that sending off O'Grady had converted two frees, but it was Rock who closed out the first half on top with injury-time points from Aidan Girvan and McGarrity to leave it all square at the break, 1-6 to 0-9.

A superb long-range McGarrity point from a placed ball gave Rock the lead for the first time, but back came Glenbeigh - Glencar with O'Grady scoring twice from frees of his own.

In the 47th-minute Rock scored a well-crafted goal with Eamon Ward providing the final pass for his brother Padraig to finish to the net to leave them 1-10 to 1-8 in front.

They failed to build on that though, with Courtney and O'Grady scoring to bring the sides level, before O'Sullivan put his side back in front. A superb McCreesh point levelled matters, but moments later they lost midfielder Diarmaid Carroll to a second booking and then Niall Mullan followed with a black card having been earlier shown a yellow one.

The winners took full advantage with substitute duo Bernard Murphy and Jason McKenna on target either side of a fisted effort from O'Sullivan as the silverware went to Kerry for the third year running.

Rock: Donaghy; N McWilliams, Mullan, McAleer; C McWilliams, Girvan (0-1), Mullan; Gourley (0-1), Carroll (0-1); E McWilliams, E Ward, Bloomer; McCreesh (0-3), McGarrity (0-5, 4f), Crilly.

Subs: P Ward (1-0) for Mullan, Reid for N McWilliams, Nugent for C McWilliams, C McWilliams for E Ward, Litter for McGarrity

Glenbeigh - Glencar: O'Connor; O'Sullivan, Doyle, Hoare; Brosnan, Kilkenny, Teahan; McGillycuddy, Griffin (0-1); Danny O'Sullivan, Darran O'Sullivan (1-3), Cahill; Courtney (0-2), O'Grady (0-6, 3f), Griffin.

Subs: Murphy (0-1) for Cahill, Hoare for F Griffin, McKenna (0-1) for Danny O'Sullivan, Griffin for Darran O'Sullivan, McGillycuddy for S O'Sullivan

Referee: J Henry (Mayo)

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