A dominant first half display laid the foundations for the Kerry minor hurlers to carve out an 11-point win over Wicklow at Arklow on Saturday.
Played in heavy rain, Kerry got off to a dream start with a goal inside 10 seconds of the throw-in, midfielder Jack Goulding seeing his shot deceive the home defence and goalie Cormac Geraghty to sneak to the net at the right hand post.
But their eagle-eyed wing-forward was the real star, as he put Wicklow to the sword with seven smashing points, six from frees.
Wicklow were not at the races in the first half, as the Kingdom dominated the exchanges, to lead 1-8 to 0-4.
The home side, also beaten by Kerry last year by a five-point margin, did up their game in the second half. However, while putting their opponents under pressure, they just could not manufacture the goal they badly needed, restricted instead to two points from frees by Enda Donoghue, a point from a free by Cian Doyle and four wides.
Kerry killed off the game in the last 10 minutes with goals by wing-forward Aaron Murphy and Jordan Brick, Brick’s shot from a tight angle on the end line deflected to the net by a Wicklow defender and goalie.
In the other quarter-finals, Westmeath accounted for Armagh 5-14 to 1-10 at the Athletic Grounds while Roscommon needed all their guile to pip Donegal 2-25 to 2-22 in Athleague.
Meath had beaten Kildare 0-14 to 2-7 on Thursday night.
Scorers for Kerry: J Buckley (0-7, 6fs), J Goulding, A Murphy, J Brick (1-0 each), B Lyons, F O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Wicklow: E Donoghue (0-4, 2f), P Doyle, T Mellon, C Doyle (0-1 each).
KERRY: S Murphy; A O’Mahony, M Leane, S O’Sullivan; B Lyons, R Collins, M Lynch; D O’Carroll, J Goulding; A Murphy, D Shanahan, J Buckley; T McElligott, F O’Sullivan, F Mackessy.
Subs: J Brick for McElligott, J Conway for Shanahan, D Ryan for Goulding, J Lenihan for O’Carroll, C Doncel for F O’Sullivan.
WICKLOW: C Geraghty; C Moorehouse, S Cruise, A Kinsella; C McCrea, P Conroy, M Gilbert; A Kavanagh, E McCormack; C Doyle, P Doyle, E Donoghue; S Germaine, T Mellon, B Moorehouse.
Subs: S Moloney for McCrea, P O’Brien for Germaine, G O’Brien for B Moorehouse.
Referee: S Cleere, Kilkenny.