Kieran Donaghy kicks the winning penalty that sends Austin Stacks into Kerry final 2 weeks ago

Kieran Donaghy kicks the winning penalty that sends Austin Stacks into Kerry final

Austin Stacks 2-9 St Brendan's 1-12 (Stacks win 5-3 on penalties)

The Star was never going to miss.

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Austin Stacks are through to their first Kerry senior football final since 2014, after the evergreen Kieran Donaghy kicked the winning penalty that brought them back. For large parts, it was a dour, low-scoring affair as Stacks and St Brendan's slugged it out in Fitzgerald Stadium but it turned into a burn-up for a finish, with Eoin O'Brien kicking a late 45 to send the game to extra-time.

From there, with bodies tiring and legs aching, the game opened up and there were some marvellous scores, most notably from Ivan Parker and Sean Quilter in extra-time. That man Quilter did have a chance to win the game but with his late free hitting the post, it was down to the dreaded penalty shoot-out. The youngster showed tremendous character moments later when, in stepping up to take the first penalty of the shoot-out, he hammered it into the top corner.

Indeed, each of the five Stacks penalties were emphatic, none-more-so than the winning kick from the old dog for the hard road. Having caught kick-outs for sport, having caused havoc all day, Donaghy was in top form and in a big moment like this, he was never going to miss.

He told RTE's Damian Lawlor afterwards that he wasn't intending on playing this year, only for Stacks manager Wayne Quillinan twisting his arm. He's just one win from the holy grail now, which would make for the fairytale of all fairytale endings.

"We weren't at our best today. We had to rely on two lucky goals to get us through," said Donaghy.

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"We did practice them in training last weekend. I actually missed one in the last training session we had! But I scored one in the League against Rathmore in the League a few years ago. That last penalty, that was the easier one.

"I didn't think I'd be back this year. Wayne (Quillinan) twisted my arm! He thinks I'm fresh, he convinced me that we didn't do too much last year with Covid. I don't know about a 39-year-old being fresh!"

"I was playing in the 2014 final when they last won, and for him to be still doing it, still leading and carrying the can, all the way through the game and through extra-time, that's phenomenal. He's a great example to all those younger lads on the team."

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"The longer the game went on, the better he was. He was tracking back, fielding high balls in his own square, he was catching kick-outs. He's playing Irish League basketball, he's 39, he's playing for Stacks, what an ambassador this man is for sport."