St. Barnabas 6-14 / 
Kerry 5-12

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St. Barnabas claimed championship glory over Kerry on Sunday in a matinee thriller at Gaelic Park. Barnabas, wearing their change white kit, were up 1-1 to 0-2 after the first 10 minutes. Mike Brosnan grabbed both scores, one from a free and the other after Ryan Kerley somehow found the young corner forward on the edge of square.

David Culhane and Dennis Donnelly converted for Kerry to get them on the board. After Brosnan’s ninth-minute goal, he looked certain to grab his second four minutes later but just as he looked to pull the trigger, he was pulled back just enough.

Referee Peter McCormick waved play on as the Barnabas bench looked for a deserved penalty. Kerry steamed up the other way and Kenneth Quirke pointed the Kingdom’s third point of the day.

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Culhane added a free to make it 1-1 to 0-4 in the 15th minute before Dion Norney leveled the sides once again in the 17th.

Three minutes later Barnabas had their second goal of the afternoon with Ciaran Bennett firing home to make it 2-2 to 0-4. Bennett’s shot was a blistering missile right through the wickets of Kerry keeper David Largan.

In the 22nd minute, Brosnan grabbed his third score of the day, this one from a free. Two minutes later the young Barnabas forward caught Kerry napping in front of their own goal when his quickly taken free found Bennett all alone behind the Kerry backline. Bennett, with just the keeper to beat, made no mistake and gave Barnabas a three-goal advantage – 3-4 to 0-4.

For much of the opening half, Barnabas were guilty of trying to hard to find one more pass or trying to find a way to walk the ball over the line. However, they did get through enough for the lead as halftime quickly approached.

Two quick points in the 27th minute looked to show Barnabas were starting to take their scores when they came -- Bennett and substitute Johnny McGeaney converted from play to make it 3-5 to 0-4.

Dennis Donnelly gave Kerry a lifeline late into the first half as it looked as if Barnabas were ready to run the table. His 28th-minute goal made it 3-5 to 1-4 after the ref checked with his umpires to make sure no square ball had occurred.

Seconds later Barnabas were back down the pitch with Kerley busted the net for Barnabas’ fourth goal of the first half. It looked as if the half would end with Barnabas up 4-5 to 1-4, but Kerry were willing to show they weren’t done and dusted just yet, and just at the end of the half Keelan Hickey belted Kerry’s second goal to make it 4-5 to 2-4 at the break. An all too important goal for Kerry just at the dying seconds of the first half. Just enough to remind everyone that this game was not over, not by a longshot.

Kerry powered through in the opening seconds of the second half with Donnelly scoring his second point of the day. Norney and McGeaney replied with three scores for Barnabas to make it 4-8 to 2-5 going into the 40th minute.

Quirke got his second point of the day after his line drive shot deflected just enough to get over for a point in the 41st. A dangerous shot that really could’ve gone anywhere. Four minutes later Culhane fired over a superb score from distance to make it 4-9 to 2-7 as Kerry tried to match Barnabas score for score heading into the final 15 minutes.

Kevin Rafferty pointed in the 45th but again Kerry stubbornly responded with two points in a row, with Martin Flavin and Quirke making it 4-10 to 2-9.

McGeaney grabbed some extra breathing room for the saints in the 49th minute with a bullet that just cleared the underside of the crossbar. The shot came off the top of the net as quickly as it went into it, but the umpires made sure to raise the green flag and Barnabas had a 5-10 to 2-9 advantage.

Shane Rafferty and Tom McGovern added two more points in the 50th and 51st minutes that seemed to rile Kerry as much as anything. Culhane converted a free in the 52nd minute and then was in the right place at the right time when a Gearoid Kennedy kick out somehow malfunctioned. Culhane had a walk in to make it 5-12 to 3-10. A rare bad kick by the Barnabas keeper who really distributed the ball brilliantly all day.

Quirke made it 3-11 for Kerry with a no-nonsense soccer-style kick to get Kerry to within seven. McGeaney made it an eight-point advantage from a free, but Kerry quickly responded through a Quirke point after Culhane brilliantly threaded the needle to find his teammate.

Chaos would blanket the Gaelic Park pitch for the final three minutes. McGeaney fired a super score in the 57th minute to make it 5-14 to 3-12. Kerry, again not willing to let a championship get away so easily, grabbed a goal through a goalmouth scramble where the ball seemed to be made of soap where it eventually made it over the goal line for a Kerry goal.

Kerry’s keeper Largan had played a dangerous game of roaming goalie for much of the game and was finally caught out when Barnabas found themselves in on goal with no goalie to beat. A simple tap into the back of the net was all the was required, and even another last-ditch attempt by Kerry to grab a goal, time finally ran out – St. Barnabas are crowned champs in a heart-stopping thriller.

The champs, St. Barnabas.Chris Clarke