Kerry Edge Opening Round Thriller in Killarney
By Diarmuid Kearney and Samuel Mansfield
Kerry have recorded their first win of the 2018 Allianz Football League following a one point win over Donegal in an edge of your seat encounter in Fitzgerald Stadium.
Donegal got the game underway fast as Jamie Brennan pointed inside the 21 metere line with just over 30 seconds played. Kerry were quick to respond as Barry John Keane managed to fist over the bar to level matters in the third minute. Donegal had the momentum in the early stages and almost had a goal chance but a superb round of blocks by Jason Foley, Gavin Crowley and Shane Murphy denied Brennan and Patrick McBrearty goal chances. Both sides exchanged scores in what was a very cagey opening few minutes, Kerry managed to swing the pendulum in their favour as Sean O Sé managed two back to back scores either side of a Paddy McBrearty free to give kerry a slim one point lead with 7 played.
Another great passing move led to Kerry’s next score, Michael Burns played a delightful pass to Brendan O Sullivan who found Sean O Sé in space who pointed with ease.
Further scores left Kerry still in the driver seat before they delivered a hammer blow with 18 minutes played as Stephen O Brien managed to burst through the donegal defence and latch on too a pass by David Clifford and the Kenmare man hit low into the net.
With 20 minutes played Donegal were dealt yet another blow as Nathan Mullins was shown a red card for an off the ball incident. Teen Sensation David Clifford managed to get his senior debut off to a good start as he pointed a free with 23 minutes played.
Paddy MacBrearty managed two quick fire frees just after the half hour mark to cut the deficit down to three. Sean O Sé and Ronan Shanahan extended the Kingdoms lead to five just before the break. Paddy McBrearty made the most of the two minutes of additional time as he cut the lead back down to three just before the half time whistle blew leaving the scoreboard at 1-08 to 0-08 at the break.
Like the first half Donegal started brighter managing 1-1 within 3 minutes as Tony McClenaghan goaled in the 36th minute and Paddy McBrearty managed to point a free 2 minutes later. Kerry now trailing by one managed to level matters through Micheál Burns before Gavin Crowley and Paul Geaney put the Kingdom back in front.
Neither side were pulling away in the early stages and Donegal again drew level just before the 45th minute as Odhran Mac Niallais and Patrick McBrearty pointed from back to back scores and McBrearty edged them ahead moments later . Paul Geaney and Sean O Sé quickly replied to level matters in what was a very tense opening 20 minutes in Killarney.
With the Momentum going Kerry’s way it seemed, Donegal hit back and hit hard against an inexperienced defence as Mac Niallais managed to goal in the 57th minute following a lovely one two with Niall O Donnell. McBrearty added another free shortly after to extend the lead to four just before the hour mark.
Kerry looked down but not defeated and a resilient Paul Geaney had the home side back in it as he scrambled home a goal in the 62nd minute as he tried to push the Kingdom to victory. Further scores by Stephen O’Brien, Sean O Sé and Killian Spillane had the kingdom ahead by two points. With Kerry feeling they had it done Darrach O Connor hit back in the 71st minute breaking past his marker and finishing to get Donegal a one point margin as we were into added time.
A crucial Sean O Sé free in the 73rd minute had Kerry back in it with both teams now pushing for the illusive score, enter Daithi Casey as the Crokes captain barged his way through the defence and pointed into the Dr Crokes end in the 75th minute sending the Kerry supporters home happy.
Full time score in Killarney. Kerry 2-18 Donegal 3-14.
S.O Se (0-07)(4F), P.Geaney(1-02), B.J.Keane(0-02) S.O’Brien (1-01), D.Casey(0-01), D.Clifford(0-01), K.Spillane(0-01) G.Crowley(0-01), R.Shanahan(0-01) M.Burns(0-01)
P.McBrearty (0-10)(8 F), O.MacNiallais (1-02), J.Brennan (0-01), T.McClenaghan (1-00), S.McBrearty (0-01), D.O’Connor (1-00)
Kerry: S.Murphy, C.Coffey, J.Foley, S.Enright, P.Murphy, G.Crowley, R.Shanahan, Barry.O’Sullivan, Brendan.O’Sullivan, M.Burns, S.O’Se, S.O’Brien, D.Clifford, P.Geaney, B.J.Keane
J.Savage for D.Clifford, J.O’Donoghue for B.J.Keane, K.Spillane for J.O’Donoghue, D.Casey for Barry O’Sullivan, M.Flaherty for C.Coffey, B.O’Seanachain for M.Burns
Donegal: M.A.McGinley, S.McMenamin, C.Ward, T.McClenaghan, R.McHugh, L.McLoone, E.B.Gallagher, H.McFadden, N.Mullins, M.O’Rielly, P.Brennan. C.McGonigle, P.McBrearty, J.Brennan, O.MacNiallais
P.Boyle for M.A.McGinley, S.McBrearty for M.O’Rielly, N.O’Donnell for J.Brennan, C.Thomson for C.McGonigle, J.McGee for L.McLoone, D.O’Connor for J.McGee
Photograph : Clash Photography.