By John Fogarty
Donegal 1-17 Kerry 2-17
Kerry claimed their first opening league win since 2012, their first in Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s reign, with an utterly convincing display in Letterkenny.
The majority of the 6,329 crowd were left disappointed but there was plenty to admire from the visiting team’s performance particularly from David Moran and Paul Geaney who collected 2-4. The full-forward line of Geaney, James O’Donoghue and Jack Savage helped themselves to a tasty 2-10, 2-7 from play.
The game was truly up as a contest in the 44th minute when Geaney claimed his second goal courtesy of some great foot-passing and quick thinking involving Moran that originated from a Kerry kick-out. The score put them nine up and out of touch for a youthful Donegal outfit that put a better complexion on the scoreboard by the end.
Kerry weren’t first on the mark but they were much the better in the opening quarter despite losing Shane Enright to a serious-looking injury, which required several minutes of attention. Savage sent over a brace of points after it and Enright’s replacement Jack Barry added another in the 19th minute.
Donegal responded with a Michael Murphy free before Martin O’Reilly was fouled in the penalty area after a sparkling run in the 23rd minute. Murphy converted the penalty and Donegal were up but only briefly as Geaney found the net at the other end a minute later when Barry found him in space.
Donnchadh Walsh sent over his second point shortly afterwards and Kerry were three up and full value for it give the damage they were causing down Donegal’s right flank while Paddy McBrearty found himself isolated on too many occasions.
Ciaran Thompson brought Donegal within two points but Kerry were excellent in the seven additional minutes due to the earlier lengthy stoppage, kicking five points without reply. Murphy added a free to leave it 1-11 to 1-5 going into at half-time but the writing was on the wall.
Scorers for Donegal: M. Murphy (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-3 frees); P. McBrearty (0-4, 3 frees); C. Thompson (0-3); D. O’Connor (0-2); M. Reilly, E. McHugh, P. Brennan, R. McHugh, C. Gibbons (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: P. Geaney (2-4, 0-2 frees); J. O’Donoghue, J. Savage (1 free) (0-3 each); D. Walsh (0-2); J. Barry, T. O’Sullivan, J. Lyne, D. Moran, P. Murphy (0-1 each).
DONEGAL: M.A. McGinley; P. McGrath, C. Ward, E. Bán Gallagher; F. McGlynn, R. McHugh, P. Brennan; J. McGee, H. McFadden; M. O’Reilly, M. Langan, C. Thompson; P. McBrearty, M. Murphy (c), J. Brennan.
Subs for Donegal: E. McHugh for F. McGlynn (26); C. Gibbons for M. Langan (42); D. O’Connor for J. Brennan (47); E. Doherty for P. McGrath (inj 50); E. O’Donnell for M. O’Reilly (inj 57); C. Geaney for J. Savage (61).
KERRY: B. Kelly; J. Foley, M. Griffin, S. Enright; K. Young, P. Crowley (c), T. O’Sullivan; D. Moran, T. Morley; J. Lyne, P. Murphy, D. Walsh; J. Savage, P. Geaney, J. O’Donoghue.
Subs for Kerry: J. Barry for S. Enright (inj 9); M. Geaney for J. Lyne (48); B.J. Keane for J. O’Donoghue (52); Brendan O’Sullivan for P. Murphy (57); S. McBrearty for H. McFadden (61); Barry O’Sullivan for D. Walsh (67); J. Barry (70+3, not replaced).
Referee: M. Deegan (Laois).