As a mini-monsoon enveloped, the game of football was always going to be the loser. The Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice realised this but still felt their early ballwork was “sloppy”.
“We weren’t particularly happy with the first-half. We were sloppy and made a lot of strange decisions. It took us until five minutes into the second half to really get going.”
Kerry led 0-9 to 0-4 at the break with their McGrath Cup captain Donnchadh Walsh kicking the first score of the game. Bryan Sheehan was also prominent kicking three fine frees into a stiff wind. IT Tralee though were more than competitive, with Bantry native Rory Deane impressing at midfield.
“We played well for a 15 to 20-minute period in the second half,” added Fitzmaurice “and that was good to see, as we were playing into tough conditions. The lads seemed to click and get some chemistry going.”
The winning of yesterday’s game came in a seven-minute blitz between the 45th and 52nd minutes, the Kingdom hitting seven unanswered points. Alan Fitzgerald and Barry John Keane came to life in the inside line. This is what pleased Fitzmaurice, but the Finuge native realises their window of preparation for the upcoming league is a narrow one.
“We upped the training this week and we will up it again next week as this is really our pre-season. We are trying to get ready for February 1 and the start of the national league in the short term.”
One player to really catch the eye was Kerins O’Rahillys man Barry John Keane. Keane entered as a replacement in the 24th minute. He came on for Kenmare man Stephen O’Brien who had picked up Kerry’s first black card. Fitzmaurice noted that Keane was anxious to prove a point.
“Barry John was with us this time last year but he just didn’t make the cut for championship. He played a lot of good football during the summer, at home and in America. Sometimes when you are away from the panel for a while and you return, you can get that competitive edge. Barry John was anxious to prove a point today and when he came on, he did very well.”
Walsh, Sheehan (with a stunning 45m free into a gale-force wind) and Keane all chipped in with Kerry points before a brace of scores from Rory Deane and a Barry O’Hare free left the final score 0-17 to 0-8 in the Kingdom’s favour.
The manager of the IT Tralee side, Wayne Quillinan, was full of praise for his side.
“We were very naive last year,” said the Tralee native in reference to last year’s 4-22 to 0-10 hammering in the same competition. “We just wanted to focus on what we wanted to improve on. Our focus is NUIG in the Sigerson in late January. We don’t like losing obviously but we will take the positives and prepare accordingly.”
Kerry now move on to a McGrath Cup semi-final in Tralee next Sunday against Cork IT.
Scorers for Kerry: B Sheehan (0-6 frees), BJ Keane (0-4), A Fitzgerald (0-3), D Walsh (0-2), S O’Brien, B Maguire (0-1).
Scorers for IT Tralee: R Deane (0-3, 0-2 frees), K Mulvihill (0-2, 0-1 free), B O’Hare (0-2 frees), J Egan (0-1).
KERRY: B Kelly; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; M Geaney, J Sherwood, B Maguire; A Maher, D Moran; J Lyne, B Sheehan, D Walsh; S O’Callaghan, A Fitzgerald, S O’Brien.
Subs: B J Keane for O’Brien (black card, 24), E Walsh for O’Callaghan (57), M Reen for Maher (57), B Kelliher for Geaney (61), B O’Mahony for Murphy (65).
IT TRALEE: N O’Sullivan; J Horgan, P Óg Ó Sé, S T Dillon; D McElligott, E Hickson, S McCarthy; R Deane, D Somers; D O’Shea, J Egan, D Wallace; K Mulvihill, P Nash, B O’Hare.
Subs: G O’Grady for McCarthy, D Larkin for Dillon, M Finnegan for Wallace (all ht), S O’Connell for Mulvihill (55), S Killeen for O’Hare (65).
Referee: J Bermingham (Cork).