Donaghy leads Kerry to victory

Armagh 1-9 Kerry 1-13

Armagh 1-9 Kerry 1-13

Kieran Donaghy inspired Kerry to victory over Armagh in a fast-moving encounter at the Athletic Grounds this afternoon.

It was the Plan B ploy which worked for Jack O’Connor, who, faced with a blanket defence, opted to order the long, dropping ball to be directed towards the Star.

It worked a treat. The towering Austin Stacks men plucked them out of the sky all afternoon to hand scores on a plate to his colleagues.

Donaghy failed to score himself, but had a hand in 1-7 as the Kingdom came from behind to push on in their challenge for the Division One title and leave the Orchard men in a scrap to avoid relegation.

Early scores from Kieran O’Leary and Bryan Sheehan got Kerry off to a positive start, but they soon found themselves suffocated by a blanket Armagh defence.

The Orchard men, playing into the wind, survived an early bombardment without too much collateral damage, and in a devastating spell of counter-attacking football, they hit 1-4 to go ahead.

Steven McDonnell opened Armagh’s account from a 14th-minute free and centre back Ciaran McKeever added a second two minutes later to narrow the gap to two.

Gareth Swift jinked through for a superb 18th minute point to bring the sides level, and in the 20th minute, a well worked goal had them level.

Impressive wing back Kevin Dyas made ground on the right, and it was Brian Mallon who provided the pass which sent midfielder Kieran Toner through to finish low to the net.

But once Kerry changed their attacking ploy to a direct long ball in the direction of full forward Kieran Donaghy, they carried a much greater threat.

Donaghy had the beating of his namesake Brendan, and brought an excellent save from Philip McEvoy, before winning the free from which Sheehan tapped over.

It was another soaring take from Star which sent Darran O’Sullivan through to bring another stunning save from the Armagh ‘keeper, who had to be replaced immediately afterwards after picking up a knock in the one-on-one confrontation.

Sheehan (2) and Cooper knocked over frees to bring the sides level in stoppage time, 1-4 to 0-7 at the break.

Sheehan edged Kerry back in front, but a superb point from wing back Paul Duffy had the sides level once again, and the Orchard men needed a timely save from substitute goalkeeper John McCullagh to deny Kieran O’Leary.

Kerry sent in the artillery on 50 minutes, with Paul Galvin and Declan O’Sullivan joining the action, and pushed further ahead with points from Kieran O’Learty and hard-working midfielder Anthony Maher.

And it was another mighty Donaghy fetch which carved the opening for Declan O’Sullivan to send Darran O’Sullivan in for a 52nd-minute goal, blasted to the roof to the net past a helpless McCullagh.

Tom O’Sullivan displayed all his class and experience at the back as Kerry celebrated a virtual shut-out, and it was only late in the game that Armagh were able to pick off a handful of points through Steven McDonnell (3) and Paul Duffy.

Armagh: P McEvoy, A Mallon, B Donaghy, F Moriarty, K Dyas, C McKeever (0-1), P Duffy (0-2), K Toner (1-0), C Vernon, G Swift (0-1), BJ Padden, M Mackin, R Grugan, B Mallon, S McDonnell (0-5, 3f).

Subs: J McCullagh for McEvoy, A Duffy for Grugan, D McKenna for Dyas, C Watters for Padden, J Murtagh for B Mallon.

Kerry: T Mac a tSaoir, S Enright, K Young, T O’Sullivan, T O Se, E Brosnan, B Maguire, S Scanlon, A Maher (0-1), D O’Sullivan (1-0), B Sheehan (0-4, 4f), D Walsh, C Cooper (0-3, 1f), K Donaghy, K O’Leary (0-3).

Subs: D Moran (0-2, 2f) for Scanlon, Declan O’Sullivan Sheehan, P Galvin for O’Leary, A O’Mahony for Maguire, D Bohan for Brosnan.

Referee: P McEnaney (Monaghan).

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