Allianz Football League Division 1: Kerry 3-16 Monaghan 0-14
Goals from Darragh Roche, Paudie Clifford and Donal O’Sullivan handed Kerry an important first win as their League title defence got lift-off in Killarney with an impressive 11-point win over a Monaghan team that huffed and puffed but never knocked a stir out of the champions.
Over 10,000 showed up to see who or what Jack O’Connor had pulled from under the covers over the winter and in Roche and O’Sullivan they might just have seen the future. In just his second League game Roche scored 1-2 from play, while O’Sullivan mined 1-3 from play on his first League start for Kerry.
And then there was Clifford. While his younger brother David remains on a well-earned sabbatical, Paudie was running the ball over 80 metres before passing it past Rory Beggan in the Monaghan goal to the delight of all. Even the Monaghan visitors had to applaud.
The goals were the obvious bright spots on an open game that was high on scores but low on intensity, but as Jack O’Connor had said a week previous in Ballybofey, it is all about getting points on the board, and to that end Kerry were on the money.
It took six minutes for Monaghan to get the game’s first score, via a Conor McCarthy free, and a minute later Tony Brosnan opened Kerry’s account, also from a free, and for the next 27 minutes there was never any more than two scores between the teams until Kerry opened up a 0-10 to 0-6 half time lead in the last few minutes of the half.
It was a slightly odd opening half, one that saw the teams kick 16 points between them – some under extreme pressure – and yet it passed by with minimum fuss and few memorable moments.
Roche and the very lively Donal O’Sullivan led the charge for Kerry, while McCarthy and Bannigan did most of the scoring for Monaghan as the teams traded some fine scores.
They were level at 0-3 apiece after 12 minutes, and 0-5 each after 17 before Roche, O’Sullivan, Tony Brosnan, Dara Moynihan and Burns raised flags to make it 0-10 to 0-6 at half time. It might have been closer but for a smart clearing punch from Kerry goalkeeper Shane Murphy as Conor McCarthy tried to connect with Dessie Ward’s inviting cross.
Kerry extended their lead through Brosnan (free) and Donal O’Sullivan, before Roche was played in to dispatch Kerry’s first goal on 39 minutes, and that was pretty much that.
Monaghan continued to graft away, but it was clear that Kerry were in no mood to ease off the gas, not after leaving the door open the previous week for Donegal to slip through and beat them at the death.
With competition strong among those trying to make an early impression in the absence of names like David Clifford, Sean O’Shea and Paul Geaney it was every man for himself when it came to trying to impress.
Not that Clifford had to be noticed by the management, but nevertheless, with Kerry leading 1-13 to 0-10, he picked up the ball deep in his own half and travelled and travelled until he had little other option than to slip it past Beggan to put the home side nine ahead after 51 minutes.
Four minutes later Monaghan had Ryan O’Toole sent off on a straight red, and just to compound a bad day for the Farney men, Donal O’Sullivan smashed home Kerry’s third goal to underscore their comfortable win.
Kerry: Shane Murphy, Graham O’Sullivan, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan 0-2, Pa Warren, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy, Jack Barry, Barry O’Sullivan, Micheál Burns 0-1, Dara Moynihan 0-1, Adrian Spillane 0-1, Tony Brosnan 0-4 (4f), Darragh Roche 1-2, Donal O’Sullivan 1-3. Subs: Paudie Clifford 1-1 for D Moynihan (46), Killian Spillane 0-1 (m) for D Roche (53), Stefan Okunbor for B O’Sullivan (53), Greg Horan for P Warren (56), Ruairí Murphy for A Spillane (59).
Monaghan: Rory Beggan, Ryan O’Toole, Kieran Duffy 0-1, Ryan Wylie, Conor Boyle, Dessie Ward 0-01, Kevin Loughran, Killian Lavelle, Colm Lennon, Stephen O’Hanlon 0-3, Micheal Bannigan 0-3 (2f), Joel Wilson, Conor McCarthy 0-5 (4f), Karl Gallagher 0-1, Shane Carey. Subs: Darragh Treanor for C Lennon (ht), Gary Mohan for J Wilson (40), Thomas McPhillips for K Loughran (55), Sean Jones for S Carey (59), Shane Slevin for R Wylie (68).
Referee: Conor Lane (Cork).