O’Donoghue and Kerry prove too strong for Kildare
Impressive forward notches 1-5 as Kingdom register back-to-back victories
Kerry’s Anthony Maher and Gary White of Kildare in action during the league clash at St Conleth’s Park, Newbridge. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Kerry 2-15 Kildare 0-15
These are more reassuring days for Kerry football. They were down bodies and minds just a few weeks ago but now they seem to be heading back where they belong.
They may be without Colm “Gooch” Cooper for the summer, but they’ll surely now have the next best thing in James “Predator” O’Donoghue - that nickname a recent addition, and for good reason.
Impossible to mark, as if supernaturally camouflaged, O’Donoghue shot 1-5 here, after shooting 3-3 against Tyrone last Sunday.
Perhaps even more satisfying for Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice was the stepping up into headline roles of other players such as Paul Murphy, Stephen O’Brien, Daithí Casey and Paul Geaney. These are all more assured faces of Kerry football.
With back-to-back wins – and Westmeath and Cork to come – Kerry are also back in the hunt for a semi-final berth. Kildare, in contrast, are left standing on a half-open trapdoor, needing results elsewhere to go their way to avoid relegation.
As a contest, this became increasingly lopsided. Kildare stayed with Kerry until midway through the first half, before falling off completely by midway through the second.
By then manager Jason Ryan had made all six replacements – Pádraig Fogarty only lasting about 10 minutes before the reoccurrence of a hamstring injury – and Kerry had one foot on the bus home well before the final whistle.
“We’ve plenty of things to improve on, and we’re far from the finished article, but we’re definitely going in the right direction,” said Fitzmaurice. “It was a big game, the result very important. Because if we’d lost here, basically it was taken out of our hands, with regard to staying in division one. Especially if it comes down to a head-to-head.
Still Kerry were a little slow in settling – Kildare’s Paddy Brophy proving very troublesome at first, even for Marc Ó Sé. Brophy hit one of three opening points for Kildare, but Kerry were soon level, and with that O’Donoghue started to play like a bull in a China shop.
With seemingly impossible balance he rode and spun off tackles at every opportunity, and should have had a goal on 14 minutes, only for Shane Connolly to save. Geaney put the rebound over the bar.
O’Brien was then pulled down in front of goal, on 21 minutes, yet Kerry didn’t even get an advantage: that hardly mattered as just minutes later O’Donoghue’s deft pass across the face of the Kildare goal was met by Geaney, and beautifully flicked into the net.
O’Donoghue added another point before the break, and Kerry were far from flattered by their 1-10 to 0-9 advantage.
Kildare needed a big start to the second half, and while they briefly threatened it – Fogarty twice testing the Kerry defence from close-range.
Instead, Casey and O’Donoghue tagged on two more points each for Kerry, and then, on 49 minutes, the “predator” surfaced again.
O’Donoghue simply picked his spot in the lower left corner, and with that Kerry were out of sight – 2-14 to 0-11. Kildare kept young defender Mick O’Grady on O’Donoghue until the end, not that anyone else would have fared much better.
Later, Tomás O’Connor made a few notable efforts to raise spirits at the other end, but otherwise the Kildare attack had completely broken down. No wonder the Kildare manager Jason Ryan looked so despondent afterwards, even after highlighting the relatively inexperienced nature of his line-up.
“Losing games is one thing but, as a management team, it’s about putting in performances,” said Ryan, “and our performance today wasn’t as competitive as it needs to be.”
KILDARE: S Connolly; K Murnaghan (0-1), M Foley, M O’Grady; P Gribbin (0-1), F Conway, K Gribbin; T Moolick, G White; C McNally (0-1), E O’Flaherty (0-2, one free), S Hurley (0-2); P Brophy (0-3), T O’Connor (0-1), D Mulhall (0-2). Subs: P Fogarty (0-1) for P Cribbin, D Hyland for K Cribbin (both half time), J Gately for McNally (46 mins), P O’Neill for Fogarty (50 mins, inj), M Conway (0-1) for White (54 mins), H McGrillen for O’Flaherty (54 mins).
KERRY: B Kelly; M O Se, M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, F Fitzgerald, P Murphy (0-1); A Maher, D Moran; D Casey (0-3), B Sheehan (0-2, both frees), D Walsh; J O’Donoghue (1-5, one free), P Geaney (1-1), S O’Brien (0-2). Subs: K O’Leary for Walsh (44 mins), J Lyne (0-1) for Casey (49 mins), BJ Keane for Geaney (56 mins), J Buckley for Sheehan (58 mins), Darran O’Sullivan for O’Brien (63 mins), A O’Mahony for Enright (68 mins).
Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).