Kerry survive Galway comeback to maintain perfect start

Kerry survive Galway comeback to maintain perfect start
Picture: Sportsfile

Galway 1-10 - 0-14 Kerry

Kerry have continued their perfect start in the Allianz League's top tier with a hard-fought victory against Galway in Tuam Stadium.

That's four wins on the trot now for Peter Keane in his first campaign as Kingdom boss and he will be delighted with the manner in which his team sealed the result given they lost a long-held lead with five minutes to play before reclaiming it as the clock went into the red.

The visitors ended the game with just 14 men after Stephen O'Brien was dismissed in those hectic closing stages and, while there were three black cards and a good few yellows dished out before that, it was by no means a dirty game.

That said, it wasn't always a spectacle.

Galway may have approached the game with two wins from their opening three league games but the intense focus on their defensive tactics had attracted most of the attention and they were a prominent feature of this latest outing.

Kerry fell into the same routine for long periods and the product when that happened was a miasma of lateral passing and little in the way of action or excitement. There was one point in the first-half when 13 minutes passed without either side bothering the score-keepers.

Kerry were much the more potent though.

They ended the half with a five-point lead, 0-8 to 0-3, despite seven wides to just the one from their hosts, and they really found their groove in the last ten minutes or so before the break when rattling off five points without reply.

Picture: Sportsfile
Picture: Sportsfile

Coincidence or not, Galway were down to 14 men at the time with the dismissal on a black card of Michael Daly although the visitors had hardly been perturbed when losing the lively O'Brien for the ten minutes prior to that.

Some of the Kingdom scores in that fruitful period were exceptional, honed as they were from attacks played at pace with players running at speed and cutting through the Galway ranks before Kevin Walsh's troops could settle into their foxholes.

The damage done in that period could have been even greater with Gavin O'Brien's point coming via the fingertips of Galway goalkeeper Ruairi Lavelle. Just as well for the Connacht side who looked toothless at times in attack.

Kerry were disciplined at the back but there were maybe a handful of times by then when their two-man full-back line looked to be isolated on their men and Sean Kelly really should have punished them with a 17th-minute goal when played through.

That Kingdom rearguard endured a more searching test after the break when Galway, with the aid of a wind at their backs that had picked up during the interval, played with more intent and a greater degree of directness.

Picture: Sportsfile
Picture: Sportsfile

Barry McHugh was a regular outlet for the hosts with scores from dead balls and from play and Kerry, for whom Tommy Walsh was superb at times in fielding and linking play, were unable to prevent their lead from dwindling as the half went on.

Galway took a one-point lead with just five minutes to play, a wayward Johnny Heaney point attempt falling short near the Kerry goalmouth and scrambled eventually to the net after a scramble by substitute Danny Cummins.

Kerry's reponse was superb. Three points from Sean O'Shea, Tomas O Se and Tom O'Sullivan rebuilt a two-point buffer in injury-time before a belated Heaney riposte left Galway, down to 14 men with a black card for Thomas Flynn shortly after their goal, as close as can be without achieving actual parity.

Scorers for Galway: B McHugh (0-5, 3 frees); D Cummins (1-0); S Walsh, M Daly, A O Laoi, P Cunningham and J Heaney (all 0-1).

Scorers for Kerry: S O'Shea (0-5, 3 frees); G O'Brien and S O'Brien (both 0-2); S Enright, D Moynihan, T O'Sullivan and T O Se (all 0-1); M Geaney (0-1 mark).

Galway: R Lavelle; E Kerin, SA O Ceallaiugh, D Wynne; G O'Donnell, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; T Flynn, C Duggan; S Walsh, J Duane; S Kelly; M Daly, B McHugh, A O Laoi. Subs: L Silke for Daly (46); J Daly for Bradshaw (48); P Cunningham for Duane (51); D Cummins for Walsh (58); F O Laoi for Kelly (62).

Kerry: S Ryan; P Crowley, J Sherwood, G Crowley; Senright, P Murphy, T O'Sullivan; J Barry, M Griffin; D O'Connor, S O'Shea, G O'Shea; T Walsh, D Moynihan, S O'Brien. Subs: M Geaney for O'Connor (HT); J Lyne for O'Brien (59); T Morley for Walsh 67); T O Se for Enright (70).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan).

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