Frustrated Kerry fail to close the deal again

Cavan 1-10 Kerry 0-13
Frustrated Kerry fail to close the deal again

For the second week running, Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges carried a two-point advantage as the finishing line came into view. And for the second week running, they were caught.

The consolation to take from last weekend’s stalemate encounter was the 70 minutes of football which had preceded Dublin’s late salvaging act. On this occasion, there was no consolation. There were no positives to comfort them on the long trip home.

Aside from brief spells in either half, when they hit Cavan for three and four unanswered points, this was a lethargic and error-strewn performance from the Kingdom.

The attack camped in the Cavan half of the field for large spells of the second period, yet was unable to land anything close to a knockout blow. Instead, they registered eight second-half wides, with Bryan Sheehan accounting for half of this figure.

Further back, the defence was pulled apart far too easily on occasion and while they did prevent Cavan finding the target from play between the 41st and 69th minute, they conceded too many frees in the scoring zone which kept the home outfit alive at a time when they were living off scraps.

A Jack Barry pass into no man’s land as Kerry pressed the opposition defence, coupled with a David Moran kick pass which flew over the head of the unmarked Adrian Spillane and out for a Cavan line ball pretty much summed up their frustrations in the final third of the field. Mind you, there were countless other examples.

“I didn’t think our handling was good enough today, our decision making was off,” said Fitzmaurice.

“I am at a loss to explain it. The lads are frustrated as well. We had been going well for the last couple of weeks. We had a good away win to Roscommon. We came close to winning last weekend, didn’t quite get it done. You’d like to see that graph continuing to go upwards.”

For all Kerry’s misgivings, it wasn’t as if Cavan were any more industrious. Their shooting bordered on the ridiculous in the first-half as they clocked 10 wides, seven during a 10-minute spell approaching the half hour mark.

Gearóid McKiernan, Rory Dunne, Conor Madden, Gerard Smith and Dara McVeety were all off target as Mattie McGleenan’s side tended to pull the trigger from outside the 45-metre line.

Goalkeeper Raymond Galligan was twice called forward to stand over placed ball kicks. Neither landed between the posts.

The visitors fared better in the free-taking exchanges, with three Paul Geaney minors sustaining them during the opening quarter. Their first score from play, courtesy of Donnchadh Walsh, didn’t arrive until the 18th minute.

Walsh’s kick levelled the game at four apiece, with a Gearóid McKiernan free having edged Cavan in front two minutes earlier. That was to be their last score of the half, however, as the rot in front of goal set in.

Paul Geaney’s fourth free and a Jack Barry fisted effort had the Kingdom two clear at the break. Added to Bryan Sheehan’s minor within 35 seconds of the restart, Kerry’s play was suggestive that they might gradually ease clear.

A Conor Madden free represented the Breffni men’s first score in 24 minutes and proceedings were turned on their head when McVeety fielded Cian Mackey’s pass ahead of Mark Griffin, showed the Kerry full-back a clean pair of heels and drilled a low shot past Brendan Kealy – 1-5 to 0-7 now read the scoreboard.

Cavan had doubled their advantage when Geaney (free), Paul Murphy, Barry John Keane and Sheehan (free) landed four-in-a-row to take them 0-13 to 1-8 clear come the 68th minute.

Conor Moynagh’s courageous kick as the clock entered the red reignited the hosts’ cause. The opportunity to earn a point and stave off relegation for at least another week presented itself when Cian Mackey was fouled by Griffin.

Seanie Johnston duly obliged and although Kerry did win a free in the ensuing play, Paul Geaney was almost standing on the sideline as he lined up the kick.

The ball came across the face of the goal for their 13th wide. Unlucky, though, is the last word you’d use to describe this Kerry display.

Scorers for Kerry:

Paul Geaney (0-5, frees); B Sheehan (0-3, 2 frees); BJ Keane (0-2); D Walsh, P Murphy, J Barry (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cavan:

D McVeety (1-0); G McKiernan (0-2, 0-2 frees), N McDermott (0-2 frees), C Madden (0-2, 0-1 free); K Clarke, N Clerkin, C Moynagh, S Johnston (0-1 each).

KERRY:

B Kealy; F Fitzgerald, M Griffin, R Shanahan; P Crowley, T Morley, P Murphy; D Moran, J Barry; A Spillane, K McCarthy, D Walsh; J Savage, P Geaney, S O’Brien.

Subs:

D O’Sullivan for McCarthy (bc, 10 mins); B Sheehan for Spillane (27); BJ Keane for Savage (40); A Maher for O’Sullivan (55); J Lyne for Crowley (61); M Geaney for Barry (63).

CAVAN:

R Galligan; K Brady, K Clarke, F Reilly; R Dunne, C Moynagh, N Murray; T Corr, G McKiernan; M Reilly, D McVeety, N Clerkin; J Dillon, C Madden, G Smith.

Subs:

J McLoughlin for Brady (bc, 17 mins); C Mackey for Clerkin (40); N McDermott for Madden (47); C Brady for Smith (51); S Murray for Dunne (65); S Johnston for Dillon (69).

Referee:

M Deegan (Laois)

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