MONAGHAN defeated Kerry for the first time – in either league or championship - in 27 years in Division One of the Allianz Football League at Austin Stack Park, Tralee this afternoon.
Clones, 1988, in a National Football League game was the last time the Farney County lowered the Kingdom colours. Monaghan also overcame Kerry in Killarney in 1987, and, in front of 6,133 spectators today, Malachy O’Rourke’s 2015 charges produced a superb second half performance overturning a three point deficit to win a hugely enjoyable encounter by four.
The Ulster champions were given a rousing reception by their large travelling support as they left the field, and, having sealed their Division One status for 2016, Monaghan can confidently look forward to nailing down a semi-final berth in this season’s Allianz FL campaign next Sunday when they face Dublin.
Inspired by Vinny Corey, the Wylie brothers - Drew and Ryan – Darren Hughes and the outstanding Conor McManus, a perceptibly fitter Monaghan side proved too strong for a Kerry team that may still be relegated should results go against them next weekend. Eamon Fitzmaurice’s squad travel to Omagh for a testing encounter against Tyrone - a fixture that has had, over the last 15 years, a tetchy undercurrent to it.
“There didn’t seem to be much energy in our performance,” said a downbeat Fitzmaurice afterwards, who also pointed out that Paul Galvin and Colm Cooper are unlikely to feature against the Red Hand though Jack Sherwood is expected to return to the fold.
McManus finished the game with five points (two frees), while outside him Owen Duffy notched 1-1, the goal coming a crucial point in a pulsating second half that had, ostensibly, a championship intensity to it.
Vinny Corey, detailed to man-mark Kieran Donaghy, was also one of the game’s better performers negating the Kerry captain’s influence over the 70 minutes, the Austin Stacks clubman finishing the game scoreless.
With a strong wind to their backs, Kerry were 0-5 to 0-0 ahead after 17 minutes, Paul Geaney their star turn up front before retiring with a hamstring injury in the 33rd minute.
Monaghan, playing a sweeper system with Dessie Moane positioned between the full- and half-back lines, stuck to their game-plan and picked off four points between the 19th and 25th minutes to reduce the deficit to two points(0-6 to 0-4). Jonathan Lyne did curl over a beauty before the break to leave the sides standing 0-7 to 0-4.
Monaghan restarted in flying fashion - three points inside the opening five minutes setting the tone for a breathless second half performance from the Farney county.
Kerry registered just two points in the second half, and, over the hour registered 14 wides, a statistic Fitzmaurice was keen to accentuate afterwards as a major reason for their only home loss of this year’s league campaign.
Owen Duffy’s 48th minute goal arrived at a time when Monaghan were gaining the upper hand in the all the game’s key battles, and, further points from Finlay and McManus, ensured a happy journey northwards for the Ulster champions.
C McManus (0-6, 2 frees); O Duffy (1-1); D Hughes, P Finlay, R Beggan (free) and D Malone (0-1 each).
P Geaney (0-4, 3 frees); S O’Brien and BJ Keane (free) (0-2 each); D Moran 0-1 (free)
B Kelly; S Enright, M Griffin, P Kilkenny; J Lyne, P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, D Moran; S O’Brien, A Fitzgerald, J Buckley; P Geaney, K Donaghy (capt), BJ Keane.
Subs: Darran O’Sullivan for Fitzgerald (black card, 32 mins); T Walsh for Geaney (inj 34); P O’Donoghue for O’Brien (48); F Fitzgerald for Buckley (58); M Ó Sé for (61), T Hickey for Moran (66)
R Beggan; R Wylie, V Corey, D Wylie; F Kelly, K Duffy, K O’Connell; N McAdam, K Hughes; D Hughes, P Finlay, D Moane; C McManus, O Duffy, D Malone.
Subs: D McKenna for O Duffy (66); T Kerr for Malone (72)