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First Minor All-Ireland since 1994 2014-09-28 11:13:00

Kerry are All-Ireland Minor Football champions for the first time since 1994 after holding off a spirited Donegal comeback to win by four points at Croke Park on Sunday.

The Kingdom are now back on top of the roll of honour in their own right on 12 titles, and the win also created a significant bit of history for manager Jack O'Connor - he is only the second man after Mickey Harte to guide a team to minor, U21 and senior All-Ireland titles.

Kerry were the better side throughout and leading by six points with 10 minutes to go, they looked as though they were cruising to the title. However, a goal from Donegal's Jamie Brennan sparked a late comeback and when it was followed by two quick-fire points, the lead was down to one with five minutes to go.

However, Kerry finished the game brilliantly with points from Tom O'Sullivan, Jordan Kiely and Killian Spillane securing the victory for them.

Spillane top-scored with 0-5 while two of O'Connor's substitutions also proved significant, Liam Carey and Jordan Kiely coming on and kicking 0-4 between them from play.

A tight first half came to an end with Kerry leading 0-8 to 0-6. Both sides were guilty of some poor wides in the first half, but there was also plenty of quality on display as the sun poured down on the Croke Park pitch.

The sides traded the first six points, Jamie Brennan, Stephen McBrearty and Caolán McGonagle on target for Donegal and Spillane (free), Matthew Flaherty and Micheál Burns registering the early scores for Kerry.

There was a flurry of scores towards of the end of the first quarter, with Kerry taking the upper hand in the game. Points from Barry O'Sullivan and Burns edged them two clear, and while the gifted McBrearty kept Donegal in touch with a booming effort, Kerry led 0-6 to 0-4 at the end of the first quarter.

Defences tightened up considerably for the second quarter, but the best two points of the half came in quick succession on 20 minutes - a superb score from Cian Mulligan putting Donegal one behind before Spillane scored a gem off his right to restore the two point lead.

Kerry were three clear before the break through a Spillane free, but a John Campbell free completed the first half scoring.

Jordan Kiely, surprisingly dropped for this game, came on at half-time and immediately found his range as he edged Kerry three clear with a good score on the turn, and it was followed by a good score from swashbuckling midfielder O'Sullivan.

Kerry led 0-12 to 0-8 at the end of the third quarter following a brilliant individual score from Liam Carey, but that point was preceded by a bad miss from Donegal's Jamie Brennan. The Bundoran man was clean through on goal, but he shanked the shot badly wide when he should have found the net.

Within five minutes, Kerry's lead was six. The talented Carey landed an excellent point from distance and it was followed by a perfectly executed free from nearly 45 metres from goalkeeper Shane Ryan.

With Kerry leading by six with less than 10 minutes to go, they looked to be in cruise control. However, within seconds of Ryan's point, Brennan made up for his earlier miss with a well-taken goal off his left foot.

Cutting in from the left, he latched onto a diagonal ball, picked his spot and buried the ball into the far corner of the net past Ryan. When it was followed by points from substitute Niall Harley and Lorcán Connor (free) moments later, Donegal trailed by just one point with five minutes left. A stirring comeback.

However, Kerry showed all their class in the closing five minutes, hitting three superb scores to take victory. Corner-back Tom O'Sullivan roamed upfield for the first before Kiely and Spillane wrapped up Kerry's win with scores of real elegance.


Scorers for Kerry: K Spillane 0-5 (3f), M Burns 0-2, B O'Sullivan 0-2, L Carey 0-2, J Kiely 0-2, M Flaherty 0-1, T Ó Sé 0-1, S Ryan 0-1 (1f), T O'Sullivan 0-1

Scorers for Donegal: J Brennan 1-1, S McBrearty 0-2, J Campbell 0-2 (1f), L Connor 0-2 (2f), C McGonagle 0-1 (1f), C Mulligan 0-1, N Harley 0-1

KERRY: Shane Ryan; Dan O’Donoghue, Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Tom O’Sullivan; Brian Sugrue, Andrew Barry, Cormac Coffey; Barry O’Sullivan, Mark O’Connor; Micheál Burns, Brian Rayel, Matthew Flaherty; Killian Spillane, Liam Kearney, Tomás Ó Sé. Subs: Liam Carey for Cormac Coffey (29), Jordan Kiely for Liam Kearney (HT), Robert Wharton for Brian Sugrue (40), S O'Sullivan for T Ó Sé (50), Ivan Parker for Brian Rayel (62).

DONEGAL: Danny Rodgers; Danny Monagle, Ciarán Gillespie, Colm Kelly; Stephen McMenamin, Tony McCleneghan, Cian Mulligan; Eoghan Ban Gallagher, Caolán McGonagle; Stephen McBrearty, Lorcán Connor, Micheál Carroll; Jamie Brennan, John Campbell, Ethan O'Donnell. Subs: Niall Harley for Colm Kelly (37), Gavin McBride for Ethan O'Donnell (47), Christian Bonner for Eoghan Ban Gallagher (51), Ciarán Diver for Niall Harley (57).

Referee: Fergal Kelly (Longford)


Report: Arthur Sullivan