Oughterard defied the odds to upset Templenoe in Kilmallock on Saturday afternoon and reach the All-Ireland intermediate final.
Now they head to Croke Park on January 25 for their biggest day in recent history to face Monaghan champions Magheracloone, who overcame the challenge of Mattock Rangers of Louth, for an All Ireland title.
Last Sunday Oughterard made a statement, winning by 1-12 to 0-12. On an afternoon in which conditions made fast attractive football difficult and underfoot conditions tricky, Tommy Finnerty’s charges toppled their hotly-fancied Kerry opponents. Templenoe had been billed by many within the Kingdom as one of the greatest intermediate sides to come out of Kerry, but Oughterard ignored the pundits to cause a great upset.
Templenoe started the game with four of the Kerry senior squad who had played the previous season on their journey to an All-Ireland final, ultimately losing to the almighty conquering five-in-a-row Dubs. Each of those four, Tadgh Morley, Adrian Spillane, Killian Spillane and Gavan Crowley, played a significant role in the season for the Kingdom and were the south Kerry side's go-to players throughout the course of the game.
It was a fast start to the game with both sides trading blows early on. Cian Hallisey opened the scoring for Templenoe with a sweet strike off his left boot which sailed between the posts. Matthew Tierney quickly responded with a placed ball, while a Brian Crowley point for the Kerry side was cancelled by a Niall Lee placed ball for Oughterard.
Two more points were traded - Teddy Doyle for Templenoe and a super score from the right wing by Oughterard's Ronan Molloy - before the side from the Kingdom started to edge their noses in front of their opposition.
Templenoe then rattled off three points in succession to gain a firm foothold in the game. Killian Spillane, Brian Crowley and the dangerous Stephen O’Sullivan all notched points, but the Monaghan brothers from Oughterard, Cian and Ryan, stamped their presence on the game with a point from play each to stay in touch.
The sides entered the break with Templenoe leading by two 0-7 to 0-5, and when Brian Crowley grabbed the opening score of the second half, the game appeared as if it might get away from the Galway champions.
Up stepped Matthew Tierney with a score to keep the margin to two points, but Killian Spillane edged his side three in front again.
Then came the crucial moment of the game. Former Galway minor and Oughterard corner forward Paul Walsh, who has suffered serious knee injuries over the years, lofted the ball over the retreating Templenoe keeper to level the game at 1-06 to 0-09.
This goal was like oxygen to Oughterard who seemed to kick into another gear. Immediately after the goal Patrick Walsh nudged his side in front. A Stephen O’Sullivan free appeared to settle the Kerry side again, but the relentless Cian Monaghan made a lung-bursting run up the pitch to keep his side in front with a wonderful score.
Oughterard managed to resist the Templenoe fightback, which did contain a number of goalmouth scrambles, including a last-gasp effort that went just wide of the post. However, the outcome was sealed fittingly by the Tierney brothers, with Enda and Matthew completing the scoring respectively with simple efforts from play.
The last two scores defined what Oughterard were about on the day. Honesty in their running and effort, followed by efficiency and good decision-making, ensured they took their points to kill the game when goalscoring opportunities were potentially there to be taken.
The parish of Oughterard will be empty come January 25 when they occupy Croke Park, and the entire county will be behind them in their quest for glory.