Kerry finish strongly to end brave Roscommon challenge
Anthony Cunningham’s side threaten an upset but the Kingdom emerge victorious
David Clifford celebrates scoring Kerry’s first goal in their win over Roscommon. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Kerry 2-15 Roscommon 1-12
Kerry survived a scare at Dr Hyde Park before producing a rousing final quarter, despite being down to 14 men, to see off a resolute Roscommon outfit.
When Tadgh Morley was shown a harsh red card, moments after his introduction, the Kingdom held a 0-13 to 0-12 lead on the cusp of the second-half water break.
But, just as it did in the opening 35 minutes, the break in play seemed to disrupt a Roscommon side that had shown great courage to get back on level terms by the 50th minute.
The Kingdom showed far more energy on the resumption and when Player of the Match Paudie Clifford scythed through the Roscommon defence to set up his brother David for the game’s opening goal, the pendulum had very much swung in Peter Keane’s side’s favour.
Conor Devaney’s well-taken goal as the game ticked into injury time threatened to throw the cat among the pigeons but Joe O’Connor’s green flag, on his debut, in the game’s dying embers confirmed Kerry’s place in the last four where they will play Tyrone in two weeks’ time.
“I think we had a good second-half again, again maybe a bit similar to last week. We showed a lot of energy towards the latter part (of the second-half). We’re happy with where we’re at,” was the Kerry manager’s overall summary afterwards.
“We didn’t look at it as if we were in a semi-final. We looked at it as a game, and one where we wanted to get more game time into players. We made six or seven changes to the team today. We were anxious to get fellas in.
“Tom O’Sullivan and Stephen O’Brien started, Mike Breen got his first start and subsequently Joe O’Connor made his debut, which he capped off with a fine goal towards the end. So we’re getting more game time into players’ legs. That’s what we’re looking for.
“I think Roscommon were very up for it. They went at it hell for leather. It wasn’t an easy game for us. But it was another game, and you learn from every game as you go along,” he continued.
For Roscommon manager Anthony Cunningham, he will have taken great heart from the way his side matched their high-profile opponents for long periods. Ciaráin Murtagh, Richard Hughes and Shane Killoran were excellent for the hosts, and very central to the Rossies overturning the 0-10 to 0-7 half-time deficit to restore parity by the end of the third quarter.
“Every day you play Kerry, you learn. Every one of our players will have learned a lot today. We would have matched Kerry in a lot of the play and had them on the back foot. But we’re disappointed with the last quarter. We can’t dress it up any other way. It’s a big learning process for a lot of our players, especially the younger ones.
“The players showed great spirit today and wanted to work. There was a lot of very good play. But we’re fighting for Division One survival now. The Armagh game is the biggest game of the year for us.
“A performance like that will bring confidence to players. Lads will be honest at training this week, and pick up on a lot of the good things we did, and what Kerry did as well. That’s why we want to stay in Division One,” he asserted.
Kerry: K Fitzgibbon; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; B Ó Beaglaoich, G Crowley, M Breen; D Moran, D O’Connor (0-3); S O’Brien, R Buckley (0-1), P Geaney (0-3, one mark, one free); D Clifford (1-4, two frees), T Brosnan (0-2), P Clifford (0-2). Subs: S O’Shea for Buckley (47 mins), P Murphy for G O’Sullivan (47), T Walsh for Brosnan (52), T Morley for T O’Sullivan (52), G White for Geaney (55), J Sherwood for Moran (65), J O’Connor (1-0) for O’Brien (70).
Roscommon: C Lavin; C Daly, B Stack; R Daly, C Hussey, R Hughes (0-1); E Smith (0-1, mark), T O’Rourke; N Kilroy, C Murtagh (0-3), S Killoran; D Murtagh (0-3, one mark), D Smith (0-2, one free), C Cox (0-2). Subs: C McKeon for D Smith (50 mins), P Gillooly for Cox (55), H Darcy for Kilroy (55), E Nolan for O’Rourke (63), S Mullooly for R Daly (63), C Devaney (1-0) for Killoran (65), D Ruane for D Murtagh (65).
Referee: J McQuillian (Cavan).