To a neutral, the sight of the Waterford fans who had travelled down to Tralee having a collective heart attack when Kerry drew level in the last eight minutes of this game must have been amusing. To those experiencing it, it was like, well, a collective heart attack.
And it had all started so well. The players soon shrugged off the soul-destroying blow of the league final the previous week and set about the task at hand with a modicum of gusto. Brian Flannery was a particularly helpful addition bursting from the defence to lift the large Waterford contingent on more than one occasion. Playing against Kerry was not a pleasant experience though. My uncle described marking a Kerry hurler as “like trying to mark an octopus”, all flailing sticks and limbs and on one occasion Tony Browne was creased by all eight tentacles of one octopus. The ref took no action though.
And why worry anyway? The Déise were well on top by half-time and cruising. So naturally it began to unravel early in the second half. A mazy set of passing led to a kicked Kerry goal by JM Dooley and Kerry were back in it. As they reeled Waterford in like a weakening shark Kerry sensed victory. One gobshite in front of us greeted every Kerry score with whoops and yells, more with surprise than delight I think.
Level pegging and Waterford were losing their rag. Míceal White was introduced a few minutes earlier and did his level best to get sent off. We needed relief and we got it. Kerry failed to clear adequately and Dave Bennett slotted over the lead point. Dan Shanahan, superb throughout picked up a clutch of scores and we were safe. The final winning margin of eight points certainly flattered us and I won’t relish playing Kerry again for a long time.
Waterford: Brendan Landers, Tom Feeney, Sean Cullinane, Brian Flannery, Stephen Frampton (capt.), Fergal Hartley, Brian Greene, Tony Browne (0-2), Peter Queally, Dan Shanahan (0-6), Ken McGrath (0-3), Dave Bennett (0-1; Sean Daly), Billy O’Sullivan (Miceal White; 0-1), Anthony Kirwan (0-1), Paul Flynn (0-6, 0-3 frees)
Kerry: J. Healy, T. Cronin, S. McIntyre, I. Brick, Pat Cronin, M. McCarthy, WJ Leen, B. O’Sullivan (0-4, 0-2 frees), R. Gentleman (0-2), Padraig Cronin, C. Walsh, T. Maunsell (0-1), V. Dooley (T. O’Connell), I. Maunsell (JM Dooley; 1-0), M. Slattery (0-2)
HT: Waterford 0-10 Kerry 0-3
Referee: Sean McMahon (Clare)