Kerry rue goal misses

ROSCOMMON survived a late Kerry rally to secure a deserved victory in a poor All-Ireland JFC semi-final at Ennis on Saturday night.

The losers can have few complaints. Twice they created goal chances in the early minutes of the opening half but Mike Murphy spurned both opportunities — his first effort coming back off the upright and the second he blazed wide from five metres out.

Murphy’s forward colleagues were guilty of some appalling finishing and they kicked 10 wides in that opening moiety which was especially disappointing as their outfield play was very good, particularly in defence.

The Connacht champions were only marginally better in their finishing, and kicked six wides in the first half, led by four points to nil at the break, tacked on two more to lead 0-6 to 0-2 with 10 minutes to, and then soaked up the pressure to emerge winners by the narrowest of margins.

Coach Michael Jordan wasn’t worried about the poorness of the spectacle.

“It’s all about winning at the end of the day and it’s better to win a bad game than lose a good one.

“I’m thrilled at the victory. Roscommon needs to be contesting All-Ireland football finals, and while this one is down the pecking order, I’ll take it if it comes our way.

“Their workrate was phenomenal and that was the primary reason why we won. Frankie Dolan was magnificent and his experience was invaluable, while James McKeague who was a county minor last year, played like a veteran.

“Roscommon football needs every bit of luck that’s going and we had our share of it out there, but I would like to think we defended well when the need arose, and of course Mike Miley’s save in the first half was crucial.”

Kerry, without the injured Mike O’Donoghue and Paddy Curran from the Munster final, played against the strong wind in the opening half, but a succession of wides, those two misses by Murphy and that magnificent stop by Miley from Conor Daly all combined to leave the Kingdom scoreless at the end of the first half.

There was little improvement in the standard of play on the changeover but JP Brosnan halved the deficit with two Kerry points after 40 minutes. But all credit to the Connacht champions who pulled players behind the ball, and the excellence of Niall Carty and Jonathan Harte ensured they kept their goal intact.

With Dolan roaming outfield from corner to great effect, Roscommon hit Kerry on the counter-attack for two points to lead 0-6 to 0-2 with 10 minutes to go, and while the Munster champions put in a storming finish which yielded three points in a row, the westerners hung on for a victory they just about deserved.

Kerry coach Buddy O’Grady wasn’t offering any excuses despite being forced to line out with two of his better forwards. “They were a big loss but that’s no excuse for the way we played out there. I’m never disappointed when we are beaten provided we play well, but that was as poor a Kerry performance as I’ve ever seen and the lads in the dressing room don’t need me to tell them.”

Scores for Roscommon: F Cregg (0-1 free), S Fahy 0-2 each; B Higgins 0-1, E Towey 0-1.

Scores for Kerry: JP Brosnan 0-2; N Fleming, C Daly, D Doyle 0-1 each.

ROSCOMMON: M. Miley; J. Whyte, R. Cox, N. Carty; E. Towey, J. Harte, C. Garvey; B. Higgins, M. Reynolds; K. Higgins, J. McKeague, D. Moran; F. Cregg, S. Fahey, F. Dolan.

Subs: P. Garvey for Moran; M. O’Donoghue for Fahy; M. Killilea for Higgins; R. Brady for Cox.

KERRY: S. Óg Ó Ciardubhain; K. Quirke, W. Sullivan, C. O’Mahony; F. Griffin, P. Corridan, J. King; A. Maher, A. O’Sullivan; N. Fleming, JP Brosnan, M. Murphy; D. O’Sullivan, A. Garnet, C. Daly.

Subs: G. Sayers for D. O’Sullivan; D. Doyle for Griffin; N. Og Horgan for Garnet; A. Cahi for Quirke; N. O’Mahony for Murphy.

Referee: M. McGann (Clare)

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