A bridge too far for Ardnaree in All-Ireland junior final

A YOUTHFUL and very skilful Templenoe side had just a little bit too much for Ardnaree Sarsfields in today's All-Ireland junior football final at Croke Park.

The Mayo and Connaught champions gave it their all but came up against a clinical side from Kerry, one backboned by lethal forwards Killian Spillane and Stephen O'Sullivan, as it finished 4-13 to 1-10.

The signs were ominous from the start as Templenoe raced into a quick three-point lead. However, points from Chris Walsh, Martin Rafter and Eoin McCormack (two frees) left it 0-6 to 0-4 by the end of the first quarter.

Again, in a flash, Templenoe stretched the lead, Stephen O'Sullivan's goal in the 19 minute making it 1-8 to 0-4. But when substitute Ronan O'Malley, with his first touch of the ball, responded immediately with a goal for Ardnaree, it was game on again.

It looked even better when Rory Clarke and McCormack scored to leave just two points in, but a second goal for Templenoe, scored by Brian Crowley, and a Killian Spillane point left it 2-9 to 1-7 at the break, McCormack with a late 45' for the Ballina-based side.

Scores were harder to come by after the break but two Stephen O'Sullivan goals proved crucial as Templenoe stretched their lead. Try as they might - and they tried manfully - Ardnaree couldn't find a way through a stubborn Templenoe defence, their three second-half points coming from Conor Naylor, Eoin McCormack (free) and Martin Rafter.

A cameo from Pat Spillane, son of the legendary Kerry footballer of the same name, drew a cheer from the Kerry club's supporters, which only intensified when he landed a point five minutes from time.

In the end, no-one from Ardnaree could complain with the outcome as they came up against a very talented junior side from the Kingdom.