History repeats as Down deny Kerry
Kerry's Bryan Sheehan is unable to win possession from Down's Daniel McCartan and Kallum King during their All-Ireland SFC quater-final at Croke Park - Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Down 1-16 Kerry 1-10:Down’s proud record of beating Kerry every time they have met in the Championship remains intact after today’s formidable 1-16 to 1-10 SFC quarter-final win over the All-Ireland champions at Croke Park.
The Mourne men were huge underdogs heading into this encounter but were fully deserving of their six-point cushion when the final whistle was blown.
A David Moran penalty in stoppage time gave Kerry some degree of dignity but it was mere consolation as Down controlled the game from the first whistle to last to book their place in the semi-final.
The Down display was reminiscent of the great Mourne All-Ireland victories of the 1960s and again in the 1990s.
“We trained well all week and upped the effort since the Sligo win and we had a lot of confidence going into this game,” said Martin Clarke, one of Down’s star players.
“We knew Kerry were without a couple of key players and on the day they lost another, but we hit them early and that gave us the confidence to press on.
“I think the media have been making a lot of the history of this fixture but we’re just glad to have carried on the tradition from those great Down teams in the 60s and 90s,” added Clarke.
Within the first two minutes Down had hit the back of the net. Excellent work from the diminutive figure of Paul McComiskey created space on the right-hand side before the half-forward picked out Mark Poland in space. The Down forward still had work to do but dispatched the ball into the net with poise.
Seconds later McComiskey troubled the Kerry rearguard, this time offloading to Benny Coulter who pointed close to goal.
The onslaught continued with a converted 45. Down were rampant as Kerry failed to come to terms with the high-tempo movement of the Down forward-line.
McComiskey, who hasn’t always started for Down this campaign, finally got his name on the scoresheet on 10 minutes with a fine point from an acute angle.
Kerry eventually stirred and Michael Quirke and Seamus Scanlon began to win the midfield battle. Bryan Sheehan was uncharacteristically wasteful as he fired three makeable opportunities wide in the opening exchanges.
He made amends on 14 minutes when he pointed Kerry’s first score after Kieran Donaghy created space 30 metres from goal.
As is so often the case, Kerry turned to Colm Cooper and ‘The Gooch’ answered the call by hitting three points, two of which were frees during a dominant five-minute spell.
Down became increasingly ragged and Kerry looked to be finding their feet but Clarke came to the fore in the latter stages of the first-half. Poland also added another to give Down a 1-07 to 0-04 lead at the break.
The Kerry fightback was anticipated in the second half but it failed to materialise.
Clarke pointed a free seconds into the second period to extend Down’s lead. Kerry tried but their attack looked listless and an over-reliance on Cooper became more prominent.
Sheehan and Cooper pointed for the Kingdom but McComiskey kept the score-board ticking over for Down.
When Donnacha Walsh was dismissed for a second yellow card Kerry visibly lost heart.
Declan O’Sullivan and Donaghy huffed and puffed for the Kingdom to reduce the deficit to three but Down’s extra man was telling.
Substitute Conor Maginn pointed before two sublime efforts from Coulter also cleared the bar. By then Down were coasting on a scoreline of 1-13 to 0-09.
It might have been different had Brendan McVeigh not pulled off two world class saves from point blank range but scores from Clarke, Peter Fitzpatrick, Ronan Murtagh and Ambrose Rodgers meant that when Kerry did score a penalty it was a mere consolation.
In five championship meetings Kerry have never been able to beat Down (1960, ‘61, ‘68, ‘91 and now in 2010) and today’s win was one of the performances of this year’s Championship so date.
Down’s hoodoo over the Kingdom remains intact.
DOWN: B McVeigh, D McCartan, D Gordon, D Rafferty, D Rooney, K McKernan, C Garvey, A Rodgers (0-01), K King, D Hughes, M Poland(1-02), P McComiskey(0-03), B Coulter(0-03), J Clarke, M Clarke (0-04) (Subs): C Maginn (0-01) for J Clarke, R Murtagh (0-01) for P McComiskey, P Fitzpatrick (0-01) for K King, R Sexton for M Poland
KERRY: B Kealy, M O’Sé, T Griffin, T O’Sullivan, A O’Mahony, M McCarthy, K Young, S Scanlon, M Quirke, Darran O’Sullivan, Declan O’Sullivan, D Walsh, C Cooper, (0-07) K Donaghy, B Sheehan (0-03) (Subs): D Moran (1-0) for M Quirke, B J Keane for S Scanlon, K O’Leary for D O’Sullivan, D Bohane for K Young, A Maher for B Sheehan