Kerry 0-10 Monaghan 1-11
Monaghan stormed Tralee to end a barren spell of 27 years without a victory in the Kingdom and put themselves right in semi-final contention ahead of their final league game against Dublin.
Kerry now travel north to Omagh to face Tyrone knowing that even a victory might not be enough to claim a semi-final spot, while defeat to Mickey Harte’s side could see them relegated.
The writing was probably on the wall at the interval as Kerry led 0-7 to 0-4 having played with a strong wind but it was their profligacy in front of goal that cost them dearly, as they kicked 10 wides including some scorable frees.
The absence of the injured Bryan Sheehan doubtless did not help and then when Kerry were building up a head of steam they lost Alan Fitzgerald through a black card and also their stand-in free-taker Paul Geaney, who had scored 0-4 up to that point, suffered a hamstring injury, leaving their attack looking toothless.
It was a power packed Monaghan display with Conor McManus leading the way with four second-half points, three from play, while Owen Duffy scored the crucial goal in the 47th minute which gave Monaghan the lead for the first time and proved the difference between the sides.
Paul Finlay, Darren Hughes, Dessie Mone, and Dermot Malone all played major roles in this victory as Monaghan looked to be far fitter than the home side. Kieran Donaghy struggled with a poor supply and was not able to cope with the attentions of the Wylie brothers, Drew and Ryan, and some great counter-attacking by Vinny Corey and wing backs Fintan Kelly and Karl O'Connell.
Kerry never managed to trouble the packed Monaghan defence and in fact only managed three points in the second half, one from play from Johnny Buckley who had a quiet game and a free each from David Moran and Barry John Keane.
Kerry had three wides before Paul Geaney opened their account after he was fouled in the seventh minute. After a superb Geaney point from play, followed by two more from Stephen O’Brien and Barry John Keane, Kerry appeared to be in full flow as Geaney made it 0-5 to 0-0 in the 17th minute and could have been even further ahead such was their midfield dominance.
Monaghan then began to penetrate from deep in their own half and McManus, who initially was well shackled by Shane Enright, began to get the better of his man and he scored the point of the game in the 18th minute to open Monaghan's account.
He swapped frees with Geaney before Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan kicked a monster free against the wind. When midfielder Hughes punched a point, it was game on as Kerry's lead was reduced to two points as Geaney kicked Kerry's ninth wide. That would be his final action before being replaced by Tommy Walsh due to a hamstring injury, before Fitzgerald picked up a black card and Darran O'Sullivan got a loud cheer as he entered the fray for the first time this year.
Jonathan Lyne scored Kerry's final point of the half as they retired 0-7 to 0-4 ahead.
KERRY: B Kelly; P Kilkenny, M Griffin, S Enright; J Lyne (0-1), P Crowley, K Young; A Maher, D Moran (0-1, one free); S O'Brien (0-1), A Fitzgerald, J Buckley (0-1); P Geaney (0-4, three frees), K Donaghy, B J Keane (0-2, one free).
Subs: D O'Sullivan for A Fitzgerald (black card, 32 mins), T Walsh for P Geaney (inj, 33 mins), P O'Donoghue for S O'Brien (52 mins), F Fitzgerald for J Buckley (60 mins), M Ó Sé for P Kilkenny, T Hickey for D Moran ( both 66 mins).
MONAGHAN: R Beggan (0-1, free); K Duffy, D Wylie, R Wylie; F Kelly, V Corey, K O Connell; N McAdam, D Hughes (0-1); D Mone, P Finley (0-1), O Duffy (1-1); D Malone (0-1), K Hughes, C McManus (0-6, two frees).
Subs: G Doogan for O Duffy (65 mins), T Kerr for D Malone (69 mins).
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).