By John Fogarty
Kerry 1-10 Mayo 0-15
Kerry’s dreadful early home league record continued in Tralee this evening when they were reeled in by a more purposeful Mayo effort.
The home side were six points up towards the end of the first half but lost their way in the second half as Cillian O’Connor’s free-taking proved the difference.
Watched by a healthy 8,991 crowd, all of the zip in Kerry’s game was absent following the interval. They clearly missed Paul Geaney and Killian Young who retired with injuries in the first half (James O'Donoghue was a late cry-off), while their indiscipline cost them dearly too. Mayo drew level with them thrice before going ahead for the first time in the 65th minute when Andy Moran sent over his third point of the game.
O’Connor kicked another free in injury-time and Kerry were left to contemplate on a seemingly gilt-edged chance to claim their opening league game win at home since 2009.
They had jumped into a 0-3 to 0-0 lead by the fourth minute. Looking as sharp as they were against Donegal, their kick-passing was slick and their support play in abundance. Mayo reduced the gap to one point by the seventh minute and again in the 16th when Geaney converted a free.
There were four goal chances before that – Adrian Spillane, on his league debut, smashing the bar and Moran striking a ground kick just wide shortly afterwards. Spillane was pulled back in the penalty area and with Pádraig Hughes allowing advantage, kicked for goal only for David Clarke to pull off a strong save.
David Moran stepped up to take the resultant penalty but Clarke was level to it as was the Mayo over when the midfielder attempted to follow up. His attempted shot deflected for a 45 but he was unable to land it.
Kerry lost Geaney and Young to injury but goaled on the half hour mark when substitute Barry John Keane was quick to react to Clarke’s clearing punch from a Moran point attempt that fell short.
They went into the half-time break 1-7 to 0-5 ahead as Mayo relied on the free-taking of Cillian O’Connor who sent over four but left two short.
Scorers for Kerry: B.J. Keane (1-3); P. Geaney (frees), J. Barry (0-2 each); J. Savage, P. Murphy, C. Geaney (0-1 each).
Scorers for Mayo: C. O’Connor (0-9, frees); A. Moran (0-3); T. Parsons, C. O’Shea, K. McLoughlin (0-1 each).
KERRY: B. Kelly; R. Shanahan, M. Griffin, P. Crowley (c); J. Lyne, K. Young, T. Morley; D. Moran, J. Barry; D. Walsh, P. Murphy, A. Spillane; J. Savage, P. Geaney, C. Keane.
Subs for Kerry: B.J. Keane for P. Geaney (inj 19); T. O’Sullivan for K. Young (inj 27); C. Geaney for C. Keane (48); M. Geaney for A. Spillane (50); J. Foley for R. Shanahan (inj 57); Barry O’Sullivan for J. Lyne (black, 60); J Foley (black, 67, not replaced).
MAYO: B. Kelly; P. Durcan, K. Higgins, D. Newcombe; S. Coen, C. Boyle, D. Drake; D. Vaughan, T. Parsons; F. Boland, C. O’Connor (c), C. O’Shea; K. McLoughlin, A. Moran, J. Doherty.
Subs for Mayo: E. O’Donoghue for D. Drake (24); D. O’Connor for F. Boland (46); S. Nally for D. Vaughan (51); E. Regan for J. Doherty (59); M. Plunkett for E. Regan (black, 67); D. Kirby for C. O’Shea (70). Red card: T. Parsons (straight, 70+5).
Referee: P. Hughes (Armagh).