David Clifford helps Kerry hold off Meath challenge

A strong opening and equally smart 10-minute period midway through the second-half delivered the home side a second league win, while also patching over long periods of Kerry mediocrity.

David Clifford helps Kerry hold off Meath challenge

Kerry 1-19 - Meath2-13

A strong opening and equally smart 10-minute period midway through the second-half delivered the home side a second league win, while also patching over long periods of Kerry mediocrity.

The victory puts Kerry back in the hunt for league final involvement, whereas winless Meath now require a miracle to preserve their Division 1 status.

The visitors to Killarney threatened to spring an upset when kicking three-in-a-row between the 42nd and 49th minute to cut the gap to two, 1-11 to 1-9. In truth, Meath could have drawn level during this period as James Conlon and Cillian O’Sullivan registered a poor, wide each.

Kerry absorbed the let up and responded by reeling off six without reply to put eight between the sides. David Clifford, Micheál Burns, sub Dara Moynihan, and Sean O’Shea all found the target to hand the Kingdom a cushion which would sustain them to the finish, despite a Bryan McMahon goal offering Andy McEntee’s men a glimmer of hope.

Indeed, but for the agility of ‘keeper Brian Kelly, Meath could have doubled their goal count late on, the Kerry net-minder denying both Donal Keogan and Thomas O’Reilly.

As it was, Kerry, who were helped over the line by subs Moynihan and Tommy Walsh, claimed the two points on offer.

Kerry led 1-10 to 1-5 at the break, their opponents doing well to be only five in arrears given they took their sweet time in arriving at the pace of proceedings.

Meath enjoyed the backing of a strongish breeze in the opening half, but it was Kerry who did all the early running - the home side kicked an unanswered 1-5 in the opening 16 minutes.

Paul Geaney and debutant David Shaw had Kerry two up when Meath’s Cillian O’Sullivan was sin-binned for a pull down on Jack Barry.

Kerry, though, were slow to make hay while enjoying this numerical advantage, with two Sean O’Shea frees all they could muster. A minute before O’Sullivan was due to return to the fray, however, Micheál Burns and Shaw played Clifford through on goal, the Kingdom captain rolling the ball into the net. Burns added a minor two minutes later to leave the scoreboard reading 1-5 to 0-0.

The writing was already on the wall for winless Meath, but, to their credit, the Royals rallied gamely and produced a burst of 1-2 - the full of running Donal Keogan supplying the green flag - to work themselves back into proceedings.

Meath, who were working ferociously hard at the back and produced a plethora of turnovers when outnumbering the isolated Kerry forward in possession, twice got back within two points of their opponents. But a strong finish to the half from the hosts - Sean O’Shea (two frees) and Clifford swelled their personal tallies - stretched Kerry’s lead out to five upon the restart.

Meath lost a second player to the bin on 29 minutes, Keogan black carded for dragging back the excellent Gavin White.

White and Enright were among Kerry's best performers on the day.

Scorers for Kerry: D Clifford (1-3, 0-1 free); S O'Shea (0-6, 0-6 frees); M Burns (0-3); D Shaw, P Geaney, D Moynihan (0-2 each); T Walsh (0-1).

Scorers for Meath: T O'Reilly (0-6, 0-5 frees); D Keogan, B McMahon (1-0 each); C O'Sullivan (0-1 free), J Conlon (0-2 each); O O'Brien, B Menton, J McEntee (0-1 each).

Kerry: B Kelly; P Murphy, T Morley, G O’Sullivan; T O’Sullivan, S Enright, G White; L Kearney, J Barry; M Burns, S O’Shea, S O’Brien; D Shaw, D Clifford, P Geaney.

Subs: D Moynihan for Kearney (44 mins); T Walsh for Shaw (50); T Brosnan for O’Brien (61); D O’Connor for Geaney (70).

Meath: M Brennan; D Toner, C McGill, R Clarke; J McEntee, R Ryan, D Keogan; B Conlon, B Menton; E Devine, B McMahon, C O’Sullivan; J Conlon, T O’Reilly, O’Brien.

Subs: E Wallace for Devine (54); S Tobin for J Conlon, D Lenihan for O’Brien (both 59); G McCoy for B Conlon (64); Ross Ryan for Ronan Ryan (66).

Referee: D O’Mahony (Tipperary).

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