Kerry warming to task

ALLIANZ FL DIV 1:

Kerry warming to task

The Kildare crowd’s hushed silence said everything about the waves of onslaught the visitors were breaking against their goal. Resignation loomed large.

Kerry finished the half with 11 scores but factor in that bevy of errant shots, goal chances for Bryan Sheehan and James O’Donoghue as well as a solid penalty claim for a foul on O’Brien and their scoring opportunities exceeded 20.

We’ve seen Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s men make light work of teams in first halves before but Kildare themselves had at least 14 chances, trailing Kerry by 0-9 to 1-10 at half-time. Open this game most certainly was.

Kerry, following in a similar if not as clinical fashion to their home win over Tyrone, went nine point ahead 14 minutes into the second half thanks to O’Donoghue sending the ball low to the corner at the third time of asking.

His second opening came in the first minute of the second half when he struck straight at Shane Connolly just as he did in the 15th minute.

After his goal, the game petered out to its inevitable conclusion as much as the indications were obvious from early on when Kerry were finding it all too easy to beat their markers. Intensity wasn’t always evident as overlaps and good support play put Kildare on the back-foot.

The same might be argued of them but this wasn’t anything close to a full strength Kildare team that they beat. The sight of Johnny Doyle, Emmet Bolton and Daniel Flynn in the dozen or so training on the pitch afterwards highlighted that fact.

But a win it was and one that brings Kerry closer to contending for a semi-final spot and further from relegation bother: “If we lost basically it was taken out of our hands with regard to staying in Division 1, especially if it comes down to a head to head which it could because the league is so tight,” said Fitzmaurice. “It was great to get two points so we’re moving in the right direction for sure.

“We created a lot of chances and probably didn’t convert enough of them but at the same time it was just great to get the result. We’ve plenty of things to improve on. We’re far from the finished article but we’re definitely going in the right direction.

“Some of the younger lads are stepping up and I suppose we were conscious of trying to build on last weekend, making sure that it wasn’t kind of a flash in the pan.”

Jason Ryan now knows wins over Derry and Westmeath might not be enough to save Kildare from the drop to Division 2. But as he continues to blood players he looked on the positives. “Our second half was actually our leanest period of any game so far, I think Kerry only got six scores which is more like the way we want to defend.

“A lot of it is to do with intensity in the middle of the field, if we give teams time they’re able to kick quality ball in and forwards are able to get on the ball and we just weren’t tight enough in that first half. It’s an area we are very aware of and are working on, it’s something we’ll continue to work on.”

Kerry’s first goal came in the 26th minute at a stage when they were already two points up although it would have been more five minutes earlier had Joe McQuillan overlooked a foul by Tommy Moolick on the advancing O’Brien in the parallelogram. A squared ball by O’Donoghue found Paul Geaney close to the back-post and he palmed the ball past Connolly.

O’Donoghue was making hay against Mick O’Grady as Paddy Brophy appeared to be against Marc Ó Sé with three early points. But Ó Sé, returning to his more familiar right full-back spot, had won the tussle before the end.

Substitute Padraig Fogarty had two strikes for goal denied by Brian Kelly and Peter Crowley in the 39th minute. He added a point shortly after but the next three were posted by Kerry.

O’Donoghue’s perfectly-placed goal followed and Kerry dropped a gear. Tomás O’Connor kept their back-line honest but his graft alone wasn’t going to upset them.

Scorers for Kildare: P Brophy (0-3); E O’Flaherty (1f), S Hurley, D Mulhall (0-2 each); C McNally, P Cribbin, P Fogarty, K Murnaghan, M Conway, T O’Connor (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kerry: J O’Donoghue (1-5, 0-1f); P Geaney (1-1); D Casey (0-3); B Sheehan (frees), S O’Brien (0-2 each); P Murphy, J Lyne (0-1 each).

Subs for Kildare: D Hyland for P Cribbin, P Fogarty for K Cribbin (both h-t); J Gately for C McNally (46); P O’Neill for P Fogarty (inj, 50); M Conway for G White, H McGrillen for E O’Flaherty (both 54).

Subs for Kerry: K O’Leary for D Walsh (44); J Lyne for D Casey (50); BJ Keane for P Geaney (56); J Buckley for B Sheehan (58); Darran O’Sullivan for S O’Brien (63); A O’Mahony for S Enright (inj, 68).

Referee: J McQuillan (Cavan)

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