Kerry 3-15 Roscommon 0-14: How typical was this?
Typical of the one-sided league semi-finals that have beset Aprils since 2012.
Typical of a team that have been purring since the end of February against one that had lost their previous two outings.
Typical of Kerry to get one back on a group of upstarts who had the temerity to catch them when they were cold and brittle in February.
None of the intensity Roscommon brought to Killarney nine weeks ago was demonstrated here but neither was the rustiness Kerry had shown in the latter stages on that occasion.
Here, the mission was complete before they turned to face the strong breeze blowing into Hill 16 in the second-half.
What followed thereafter was brutally processional. Roscommon managed only their second point from play in the 52nd minute as Kerry were only too happy to sit back and protect the 12-point half-time lead – 2-8 to 0-5 – they had amassed.
Roscommon’s naivety had played its part in that first-half tonking but so too did the work-rate and intelligence of Kerry.
The space they developed in their forward line was down to their constant movement and success in warping the shape of Roscommon’s defence as much as the Connacht men’s determination to follow their men wherever they went.
“A lot of the time today we were just chasing our men and I think that was a problem,” acknowledged Roscommon’s Fergie O’Donnell.
“You could come up here and park the bus but in reality are you going to win. It’s only damage limitation. At the end of the day, would you have done any better than we did there? We’ve just got to look at it and learn from it and maybe try and improve.”
The wind made Kerry’s aim of spoiling the Roscommon kick-out slightly easier as did their restart strategy but then David Moran was in mean form.
Afterwards, Éamonn Fitzmaurice used the word “selflessness” to compliment his players and it was appropriate term considering how many players were willing to retreat back when not in possession.
“In fairness to the lads, they worked very hard again when we didn’t have the ball. We got scores on the break a couple of times where we punished Roscommon. I think we mixed the good and the bad today.
“There were parts of the game where we were very good and there were parts of the game clearly in the second half where we were sloppy and switched off a bit. So, from that point of view, there’s plenty to work on for the league final, which is good.”
Roscommon’s bleed began in the 13th minute. Stephen O’Brien set off on a run before putting an inch-perfect hand-pass to Cooper to finish. Three Kerry points in succession followed and they were sporting 1-6 to 0-2 lead by the 16th minute. Roscommon eventually ended a 16-minute spell without a score but Kerry’s second goal came in the 29th minute when Kerry forced a turnover allowing Moran to send a long ball into Donnchadh Walsh who was isolated on Seanie McDermott.
Although he was impeded, Walsh took an excessive amount of steps before scoring but referee Padraig Hughes allowed it to stand.
“You can say steps but at the end of the day we’d be saying we turned the ball over out the field, we had the ball,” reviewed O’Dpnnell.
“That was something we would have addressed. Going into the middle is something that’s killed us in all of the games, happened us against Monaghan as well. You’ve got to try and keep the spaces and we played very narrow today. I don’t know why that happened.”
With the Roscommon full-back line so far from their own goal, McDermott was in bother again three minutes into injury-time when he misjudged a high ball and O’Sullivan availed to run at goal.
Geoffrey Claffey brought down the Kerry forward but O’Sullivan still had the presence of mind to recover and slot the ball into the empty net. Kerry’s worries yesterday were limited to a quad injury for Johnny Buckley and a knock for O’Sullivan although he was able to recover and added three points in the second half when a lot of his team-mates were already packing up.
Few could blame them. The blows had landed. The damage had been done. Dublin will be a different prospect entirely.
Scorers for Kerry:
C Cooper (1-5, 0-5 frees); D O’Sullivan (1-4); D Walsh (1-0); P Murphy (0-2); M Ó Sé, J Buckley, BJ Keane, B O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Roscommon:
C Murtagh, D Murtagh (0-4, 3 frees each); N Collins (0-2); G Claffey (45), D Shine (45), C Devaney, S McDermott (0-1 each).
B Kelly; M Ó Sé, M Griffin, S Enright; A O’Mahony, P Crowley, F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy, D Moran; D Walsh, P Murphy, J Buckley; D O’Sullivan, C Cooper, S O’Brien.
B Sheehan for J Buckley (inj 19); K Young for F Fitzgerald (47); A Fitzgerald for S O’Brien (48); BJ Keane for D Walsh (54); B O’Sullivan for D Moran (57); P O’Connor for P Crowley (63).
G Claffey; S McDermott, N Collins, N McInerney; S, Mullooly, S Purcell, D Murray; N Daly, C Shine; F Cregg, C Murtagh, C Devaney; D Murtagh, S Kilbride, C Cregg.
R Stack for S Purcell, D Shine for C Shine (both h-t); D Keenan for S Mullolly (47); R Daly for C Devaney, N Kilroy for C Cregg (both 56); J McDermott for N Daly (66).
P Hughes (Armagh)
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