Donegal inflict another defeat on Kerry
Kerry on the brink of relegation after fourth reverse of league campaign
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Photograph: Kieran Murray/Inpho
Everybody has a handy cure for the hiccups, the only problem being none of them seem to work. That's four big hiccups now for Kerry football, and still no apparent cure.
Not that Donegal will be worried - the All-Ireland champions easing any relegation fears of their own with a perfectly comfortable and impressively composed victory. It was bitterly cold so neither team were actually sweating, although there's no doubting which team had the far greater reserve.
So, that a fourth successive league defeat for Kerry brings them perilously close to relegation must be worrying enough, yet the nature of this performance will raises serious alarm for manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice: any hope that last week's decent performance against Kildare would be built on quickly disappeared, as Kerry faltered early, then stumbled on until the finish, scoring a mere five points from play, also losing Tomas O Se to a straight red card.
Unless Kerry take something out of their next two games, they'll go into the last round virtually resigned to division two. They'd travelled a long way for nothing, with lots to think about on the tiresome way home, because no matter how soon they get players like Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin back on board, it might not be enough to save their lives in division one.
Snow on the mountains surrounding Ballyfofey might suggest summer is still some ways off, yet that shouldn't deceive Kerry into thinking form will turn at the first sight of proper sunshine. Donegal certainly realise that, as several of their All-Ireland winners are coming straight back into form, none more impressively than Michael Murphy.
Murphy finished with 1-5, including a sweetly converted penalty after just six minutes, after Ross Wherity was illegally foot-blocked. Paddy McBrearty was showing good early form too, as Donegal went 1-3 to no score in front, after nine minutes, and even then Kerry looked done and dusted.
Indeed they went 18 minutes before Johnny Buckley opened their account, and trailing 1-5 to 0-3 at the break, there was no easy way back. Then O Se's red card came just four minutes into the second half, just when they needed him most: an off-the-ball incident, far away from the run of play, suggested O Se made some contact with Donegal midfielder Rory Kavanagh, and when the linesman brought this to the attention of match referee Derek Fahy, there was no hesitation in showing the straight red.