Kerry 2-12 Antrim 1-10
Kerry are still struggling to find their form, but they have done enough to make it through to the All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals.
Having stumbled through their Qualifier ties against Longford and Sligo, they had difficulty in handling the feisty challenge of Antrim at Tullamore.
But an improved second-half display, and goals at crucial times from Tommy Walsh and Paul Galvin, saw them survive and bring the Saffron fairytale to an end.
Walsh gave a sluggish Kerry a much-needed lift with a twelfth-minute goal, taking a Tadhg Kenelly pass to shoot low past John Finucane.
Declan O’Sullivan eased the Munster men into a 1-2 to 0-1 lead, but Antrim responded with a Tony Scullion goal. He took a pass from fellow wing back James Loughrey before rounding goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy to plant the ball in an empty net.
Kerry went 17 minutes without scoring, during which both Sean O’Sullivan and Declan O’Sullivan were guilty of glaring misses from easy frees, prompting the introduction of Gooch Cooper on the half-hour.
Tommy Walsh brought the Munster men level, but Ciaran Close’s fisted point in stoppage time sent the Saffrons in with a 1-4 to 1-3 interval lead.
Cooper converted two frees to bring the sides level 10 minutes into the second half, and two minutes later regained the lead for Kerry.
Mike McCarthy’s surging runs forced Antrim to concede the frees from which Gooch punished, but Michael McCann steered over three Antrim frees, and with 10 minutes to play, the sides were still deadlocked on 1-8 each.
But the game took an irreversible twist in the Kingdom’s favour when Michael Quirke fetched at midfield, and Donnacha Walsh sent Galvin in to finish to the net from close range.
It was all over for brave Antrim, and Kerry finished the job off with a string of points from Paul O’Connor and Galvin.
Kerry: D Murphy, M O Se, T Griffin, T O’Sullivan, K Young, M McCarthy, A O’Mahony, D O Se, S Scanlon, P Galvin (1-2), T Kennelly, Darren O’Sullivan, T Walsh (1-2), Declan O’Sullivan (0-1), S O’Sullivan (0-1, f).
Subs: C Cooper (0-4, 4f) for S O’Sullivan (30), T O Se for O’Mahony (43), D Walsh for Kennelly (43), P O’Connor (0-2, 2f) for Darran O’Sullivan (56), M Quirke for Scanlon (58)
Antrim: J Finucane, C Brady, A McClean, K O’Boyle, T Scullion (1-0), J Crozier, J Loughrey, M McCann (0-4, 3f), A Gallagher, T O’Neill, C Close (0-1), N McKeever, P Cunningham (0-3, 2f), K Niblock, T McCann (0-2).
Subs: A Douglas for O’Boyle (13), C Murray for Close (49), K Brady for O’Neill (53), S Burke for Niblock (64)
Referee: J White (Donegal).