Kerry finish with a flourish to pull away from Monaghan
Kingdom score seven of the last eight points in Killarney to maintain unbeaten record
Kerry’s Gavin O’Brien is challenged by Monaghan’s Karl O’Connell and Drew Wylie. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Kerry 0-17 Monaghan 0-13
Kerry continued their unblemished record under Peter Keane when they finished strongly to claim a fifth-straight win at the expense of Monaghan in Killarney. Having trailed narrowly for long spells, a resilient Kerry side kicked seven of the game’s last eight points to move onto the brink of securing a place in the league final.
With Tommy Walsh proving an effective fulcrum at full-forward and Seán O’Shea continuing his prolific form, Kerry had the firepower, along with an all-action performance by Paul Murphy and a big impact off the bench once again by Tomás Ó Sé adding to the positives for Keane. An improved performance by Monaghan had them within touching distance of a first win since the opening day, with Conor McManus matching O’Shea’s eight-point haul, but Kerry’s storming finish made the difference.
Doubt surrounded whether this game would go ahead in the hours before throw-in, with a sustained snow shower making conditions very difficult for the curtain-raiser, where Kerry’s hurlers had a comprehensive win over Meath. Conditions improved in time for the football, which began in entertaining fashion.
Monaghan were first off the mark through Conor McManus, but Kerry hit back with a brace from the in-form Seán O’Shea (one from a free). Monaghan enjoyed a purple patch with points from McManus, Stephen O’Hanlon and Gavin Doogan before the end of a lively first ten minutes, while Tommy Walsh replied from Kerry after taking an advanced mark.
Stephen O’Brien got a point back for Kerry, but a McManus brace moved the visitors three clear by the end of the opening quarter. Kerry pushed up on the Monaghan kick-outs to good effect at the start of the second quarter, capitalising on that to pick off three unanswered points from O’Shea, Tom O’Sullivan and Walsh (the latter a superb left-footed effort).
McManus regained Monaghan’s lead, before the game became scrappy in the closing stages of the first half, with 15 minutes passing before the three-time All-Star doubled his side’s advantage from another free, making it 0-9 to 0-7 at half-time.
Kerry wiped out the deficit within four minutes of the restart with pointed frees by O’Shea and Walsh, but Monaghan enjoyed another good spell that featured another McManus brace and a Darren Hughes point that might have been a goal. Walsh continued to pose serious problems at the other end, however, and his third ‘mark’ of the game kept the hosts in touch. O’Shea clipped over a pair of frees to level it up as Kerry kicked for home and Stephen O’Brien curled over his second to edge the leaders ahead for the first time since the early stages.
Dara Moynihan doubled that advantage and although Colin Walshe got forward to kick Monaghan’s only point of the last 25 minutes, they then lost Hughes to a second yellow card. O’Shea and Tom O’Sullivan quickly moved Kerry three clear and the league’s top scorer, O’Shea, finished the game in some style by swerving over his second brilliant sideline kick of the campaign.
Kerry: S Ryan; B Ó Beaglaíoch, P Crowley, J Sherwood; G Crowley, P Murphy, T O’Sullivan (0-2); J Barry, M Griffin; D Moynihan (0-1), S O’Shea (0-8, six frees), G O’Brien; K McCarthy, T Walsh (0-4, three m), S O’Brien (0-2). Subs: M Geaney for McCarthy (H-T), S Enright for Griffin (51 min), G O’Sullivan for Ó Beaglaíoch (55), T Ó Sé for Sherwood (59), J Foley for G Crowley (70).
Monaghan: R Beggan; R Wylie, D Wylie, C Walshe ( 0-1); K O’Connell, V Corey, C Lennon; D Hughes (0-1), G Doogan (0-1); D Ward, D Malone, R McAnespie; C McCarthy (0-1), C McManus (0-8, six frees, one m), S O’Hanlon (0-1). Subs: D Mone for Lennon (43 min), O Duffy for Ward (60), Jack McCarron for O’Hanlon (60), B McGinn for Malone (69).
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon).