They were on top in most areas, with brief spells of Cavan dominance insufficient to topple the Munster champions.
Cavan’s Martin Dunne opened the scoring in the first minute from a free before Kerry responded with three of their own. A Conor Cox free was followed by an outstanding team move finished by David O’Callaghan and a long-range effort from Alan O’Sullivan.
Despite the aid of a strong breeze in the first half, Kerry struggled to build a healthy lead, missing a plethora of chances.
Cavan pushed three of their forwards into the midfield area, creating space inside the Kerry full-back line. When Martin Dunne saw his shot rebound of the post, Óisín O’Connell followed up to point from close range.
Midway through the first half Cavan enjoyed a period of dominance which would yield the first goal of the game.
A long-range effort rebounded off the post into the arms of Seán Gaffney who was subsequently dragged down in the square for a penalty. Martin Dunne gave the keeper no chance. That 20th-minute penalty was to be the culmination of Cavan’s scoring in the first half.
Mike O’Donoghue then followed up his own well-taken point by scoring Kerry’s sole goal in the game. A 45 landed short, into the arms of Alan O’Sullivan, who off-loaded to O’Donoghue. The Spa clubman found the net from close range.
Points from Kerry trio Conor Cox, David O’Callaghan and Niall O’Mahony closed out a well contested first half, which ended with Kerry five points ahead.
Cavan enjoyed little respite from Kingdom dominance at the beginning of the second half. Indeed from the 20th to the 40th minute of the game, Kerry scored 1-7 to a single Cavan point.
Kerry’s class up front was emphasised by the fact that all six starting forwards were on the score sheet soon after the beginning of the second half.
Mayo, who beat Lancashire in the other semi-final last weekend, will have to perform resolutely in defence if they are to emerge victorious in the final.
Despite being aided by the breeze, Cavan continued to play with just three forwards inside the Kerry half. Kerry’s dominance in midfield meant that those forwards were able to make little use of the space afforded to them.
However, Cavan were given a lifeline midway through the second half when a quickly taken free made its way to Martin Dunne, whose deflected shot left Ó Ciardubháin rooted to the spot.
Another point from Dunne soon after gave Cavan impetus to overturn the deficit but it was not to be.
Scorers for Kerry: C Cox 0-5 (2f), M O’Donoghue 1-1, P O’Donoghue 0-3 (1 45, 1f), D O’Callaghan (1f), N O’Mahony 0-2 each, A O’Sullivan, N Ó Sé 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cavan: M Dunne 2-5 (2f, 1-0 pen), O O’Connell 0-1.
KERRY: S Óg Ó Ciardubháin (Cordal); K Quirke (Duagh), B O’Mahoney (John Mitchels), K O’Dwyer (Waterville), M Mangan (Milltown/ Castlemaine), J Sherwood (Firies), J Walsh (Knocknagoshel), A Garnett (Spa), A O’Sullivan (Tuosist), N O’Mahony (Spa), N Ó Sé (Piarsaigh na Dromada), P O’Donoghue (St Mary’s), D O’Callaghan (St Pat’s Blennerville), M O’Donoghue (Spa), C Cox (Listowel Emmets).
Subs: C Kerins (Milltown Castlemaine) for D O’Callaghan (45); E Hickson (Annascaul) for K Quirke (50), M Brennan (Churchill) for A Garnett (52), E Walsh (Knocknagoshel) for A O’Sullivan (60), C Moriarty (Milltown Castlemaine) for N Ó Sé (60).
CAVAN: J Farrelly (Kingscourt); J Morris (Arva), R Dunne (Redhills), F Slowey (Ballyhaise), D Barkley (Ramor United), K Brady (Mullahoran), E O’Connell (Castlerahan), S Gaffney (Kill), B Murray (Killygarry), P O’Connor (Cavan Gaels), M Reilly (Killygarry), K Fannin (Drumgoon), O O’Connell (Castlerahan), M Dunne (Cavan Gaels), D Sexton (Cavan Gaels).
Subs: J Dillon (Kingscourt) for R Dunne (ht); N Reilly (Ballinagh) for E O’Connell (38), B Reilly (Kingscourt) for S Gaffney (39), C McClarey (Cavan Gaels) for K Fannin (51), N McKiernan (Lacken) for O O’Connell (57).