In a cracking All-Ireland MFC quarter-final that took 80-odd minutes to deliver a conclusion, Kerry showed a clinical nature in finally closing out the game in extra-time. Roscommon stole into the lead in the 74th minute when Ciarán Murtagh pointed and their small band of supporters began to sense another famous coup of the Kingdom was imminent.
But Kerry’s focus was unwavering and they rattled off 1-3 in the closing stages. Substitute Kieran Hurley lobbed over from the right wing and moments later the St Pat’s youngster fetched a high ball, swivelled and banging a shot to the net. Roscommon thieved a point back from Darren Clabby but Greg Gibson and Eanna O’Connor added the finishing touches with late points.
Kerry had not been strenuously tested en route to their Munster title but were thrust into genuine combat here. Roscommon asked searching questions and manager John Kennedy believed it was their strength in personnel that got Kerry over the line.
“Our real strength is our panel. We sprung a lot of fellas today. Those guys are champing at the bit to get their starting place and they delivered for us.” Hurley’s late scoring salvo clearly stood out for Kerry, but Ian Galvin and Pa Joy notched points at vital stages, and Jamie O’Sullivan returned from injury to pitch in when introduced. The sharing of the scoring load was central to Kerry’s success with Eanna O’Connor, Mark Reen and Niall O’Shea all emerging as the go-to guys in attack. Eleven different players inked their names on the Kerry scoresheet and that went a long way towards booking an All-Ireland semi-final tussle against Armagh on August 23.
Roscommon shipped two points inside the opening two minutes, but after that attuned to the pace of the game and showed no sign of any hangover from last weekend’s Connacht final loss.
Kerry led 0-4 to 0-2 after the opening quarter, Eanna O’Connor flighting over three points, yet Roscommon gained a strong foothold in the match from thereon. Cathal Shine switched to centre-forward and along with Daniel Qualter, he sourced plenty of possession for Roscommon. Close to goal they had a gem in Niall Kilroy, whose trickery caused problems for Kerry all day. A Colin Compton point in the 30th minute left them very much in touch at the break, only trailing 0-6 to 0-5.
Kerry got a flying start to the second half when the Roscommon defence misjudged a long ball and Mark Reen rounded keeper Naos Connaughton and prodded a shot to the net. Another Rathmore forward, Donal O’Sullivan, pointed soon after and they were 1-7 to 0-5 to the good.
Roscommon’s recovery operation was marvellous. Six points were strung together in 11 minutes that left them 0-11 to 1-7 ahead. But Kerry rallied and Niall O’Shea smashed through the Rossies defence before being felled in the 51st minute. O’Shea took the resultant penalty himself and his finish was clinical to the bottom corner. That looked like wrapping it up and Shane Carroll’s point from distance in the 59th minute appeared the coup de grace as Kerry led 2-9 to 0-12.
But a stunning injury-time goal by Cathal Shine rescued Roscommon and sent the match into extra-time. The additional periods were tight as the teams traded points yet Hurley’s scoring intervention settled the issue.
Scorers: Kerry: N O’Shea (1-0 pen), M Reen, K Hurley 1-1 each, E O’Connor 0-4 (0-2f), D O’Sullivan 0-2, D Kelly, S Carroll, J O’Sullivan, I Galvin, P Joy, G Gibson 0-1 each.
Roscommon: C Shine 1-1, N Kilroy 0-4, D Qualter 0-3 (0-1f), D Clabby, C Murtagh 0-2 each, S Leydon, S Oates, A Feehily (0-1f), C Compton, B Carthy 0-1 each.
KERRY: P O’Sullivan; M Galvin, P Galvin, N Fitzgerald; G Gibson, J Coffey, D Wren; S Carroll, J Sherwood; D Kelly, M Brennan, D O’Sullivan; M Reen, N O’Shea, E O’Connor.
Subs: M Griffin for Wren (35), J O’Sullivan for Kelly (38), I Galvin for Reen (49), K Hurley for O’Connor (54), M Thiemann for O’Sullivan (56), P Joy for Sherwood (60), J Walsh for Brennan (68), Sherwood for Griffin (70), O’Connor for O’Shea (79).
ROSCOMMON: N Connaughton; C Cafferkey, D Butler, P Feeney; N Daly, P Brogan, D Connellan; D Qualter, S McNulty; S Oates, S Leydon, J Carty; C Compton, C Shine, N Kilroy.
Subs: B Carthy for Leydon (inj) (11), A Feehily for Compton (44), K Donoghue for Carthy (54), D Clabby for Oates (57), C Murtagh for Feehily (67), M Sweeney for Feeney (70), Oates for Leydon (80).
Referee: Gary McCormack (Dublin).