Down 0-08 Kerry 0-14
Kerry registered their second victory of the Division 1 campaign by pulling clear of Down in the second half of today’s clash in Newry.
The Kingdom’s first league trip to the Mourne County in 19 years saw them take a 0-5 to 0-3 interval lead with Barry John Keane pointing three times.
Down’s Mark Poland and Dan Gordon made it a one-point game but a run of four successive points kept Kerry ahead, with Declan O’Sullivan and Bryan Sheehan leading by example.
Keane was added to the Kerry half-forward line, replacing former captain Darran O’Sullivan, and he caught the eye early on with two well-struck points.
Down also tweaked their starting line-up with Aidan Brannigan starting in defence and Arthur McConville getting the nod in attack, replacing Liam Doyle and Aidan Carr respectively.
A rain shower at the start of the game made conditions difficult and both sides’ link-up play was blighted by loose passing at times.
A point from inside the 45-metre range by Poland was the only score of the opening eight minutes, before Keane landed his brace to edge Kerry ahead.
Their lead was a brief one though as Benny Coulter cleverly knocked a high ball down for Danny Hughes to bring Down level at 0-2 apiece.
Scores were proving hard to come by at Pairc Esler and the sides were still on the level terms after Dan Gordon burst forward from centre-field to slot the hosts’ third point, and Sheehan replied with a crisply-struck free.
Down, who had the wind at their backs, were guilty of hitting some disappointing wides and an end product was often lacking as their attacks lacked the necessary precision.
Jack O’Connor’s Kerry charges were not much better, but they nipped in front before the break courtesy of Keane’s third point of the game and another free from the increasingly influential Sheehan.
Staring at their second successive league loss, Down lifted the tempo in the third quarter as Poland and Gordon found their range again, with the latter’s towering point drawing huge cheers from the home crowd.
Declan O’Sullivan, making his first start of the year for Kerry, sandwiched in a score before Kerry found an extra gear to put together a run of four points.
It was the winning of the match effectively as Sheehan and O’Sullivan picked off scores and corner forward Patrick Curtin from Moyvane did likewise.
Poland replied for the Mourne men, reducing the arrears to 0-12 to 0-8, but Kerry had enough in the tank to close out the deal with the lively Keane on target late on.