Allianz FL Division 1
Kerry 0-10 Monaghan 1-11
KERRY’S ambition to reach the knock-out stages of the 2015 Allianz Football League campaign was thwarted by an impressive Monaghan side that catapulted itself into the reckoning to possibly become Division One champions.
The greater athleticism of the Farney men allied to an energetic second half performance were the defining factors in Monaghan’s first win over the Kingdom in either league or championship in 27 years, and leave the Kingdom staring down the barrel of possible relegation should results go against them next weekend.
Trailing by three points at the break after playing into a stiff breeze, Monaghan produced a magnificent second half — thanks in the main to the marksmanship of Conor McManus — to run out deserving four-point winners in front of their large travelling support.
In recent times Kerry-Monaghan matches have tended to be closely-fought affairs with a high degree of excitement, and yesterday’s latest instalment proved no exception.
The match-up between McManus and Shane Enright, for instance, was one of the game’s highlights — Enright’s clean-edged defending one of the few positives to be eked from a Kerry display that their manager, Eamon Fitzmaurice, described as “lacking energy”.
Despite Enright’s close-marking, the Monaghan attacker gave an exhibition of forward play, finishing the game on six points — but he wasn’t the only Farney man to sparkle in the Kerry capital.
Owen Duffy and Darren Hughes impressed while, in defence, the Wylie brothers — Drew and Ryan — along with Vinny Corey gave polished performances.
Clearly Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke had done his homework on Kerry totem, Kieran Donaghy, detailing the capable Corey on the Kerry captain who finished the game scoreless. Why Donaghy — who was having an off-day — was kept on the edge of the square or, for that matter, left on the field were two questions on the lips of the Kerry faithful afterwards, many of whom were heading to the exits long before the full-time whistle. Better days, however, lie in store for the big target man from Tralee.
Donaghy also struggled to bring other players into the game — though for the game’s opening 17 minutes Paul Geaney and Barry John Keane proved tormentors-in-chief for an overworked Monaghan fullback line, the supply of ball from outfield being accurate and regular, and the two attackers profited.
Geaney departed the game in the 33rd minute with a hamstring injury, but his replacement, Tommy Walsh, struggled thereafter to make an impact on proceedings, while, only fleetingly, was the 6,133 attendance given glimpses of the “Twin Towers” working in tandem.
How Kerry could do with having some of their star names back in harness ahead of Sunday’s trip to Omagh to face their nemesis, Tyrone. Marc Ó Sé did make his seasonal debut late in the game, but how the All-Ireland champions are missing the likes James O’Donoghue, Colm Cooper, et al.
Fitzmaurice admitted that Paul Galvin — still to feature after announcing his inter-county comeback earlier this spring — and Cooper are unlikely to feature against Mickey Harte’s charges though Jack Sherwood may be reinstated.
The Kerry manager admitted he was very disappointed with the performance, one that saw the Kingdom shoot 14 wides.
Three arrived in the opening five minutes as Kerry bossed possession, playing with the elements into the scoreboard end. By the 11th minute Geaney had shot Kerry 0-2 to 0-0 ahead, his second coming following a sweet Alan Fitzgerald kick pass — this skill being a hugely positive feature of the Kingdom game under Fitzmaurice.
Kerry’s defending in the opening 17 minutes was impressive — clean and without conceding frees — while, up front, the points began to accumulate through Stephen O’Brien, Barry John Keane and Geaney.
However, the remainder of the half belonged to Monaghan, who, in the 19th minute, shot their first point on target through a beautiful left-footed effort from McManus, the latter following this up with a 20th-minute free.
Geaney did get one back for Kerry before Rory Beggan induced applause from both sets of supporters in the 24th minute when kicking a free from 55m into the wind. Then the hardworking Darren Hughes stepped forward to make it 0-6 to 0-4.
Alan Fitzgerald was black-carded for a deliberate body check in the 32nd minute, his replacement Darran O’Sullivan putting in a hard-working performance. Before the break Jonathan Lyne kicked a beauty off the inside of his boot to give Kerry the cushion though not necessarily the comfort of a 0-7 to 0-4 lead.
Monaghan restarted in flying fashion — three points inside the opening five minutes setting the tone for a breathless second-half performance. Darren Hughes was magnificent in midfield while up front Duffy, Malone and McManus were making Kerry sweat.
The Kingdom registered just two points in the second half, from O’Brien in the 40th minute and a Moran free in the 66th, and couldn’t match the fitness levels, energy, commitment and hunger of the Monaghan men.
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 the build-up play was eye-catching, too, with Fintan Kelly and Darren Hughes combining to set up Duffy who palmed to the net.
Scorers for Kerry: P Geaney (0-4, 3 frees); BJ Keane (free), S O’Brien (0-2 each); D Moran (0-1, free)
Scorers for Monaghan: C McManus (0-6, 2 frees); O Duffy (1-1); D Hughes, P Finlay, R Beggan (free) and D Malone (0-1 each).
Subs for Kerry: Darran O’Sullivan for Fitzgerald (black card, 32); T Walsh for Geaney (inj 34); P O’Donoghue for O’Brien (48); F Fitzgerald for Buckley (58); M Ó Sé for Kilkenny (61); T Hickey for Moran (66)
Subs for Monaghan: D McKenna for O Duffy (66); T Kerr for Malone (72)
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo)
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