Joe McDonagh Cup Round 1
Courtesy of GAA.ie
By Dan Bannon at Ballycran
Kerry sent out a statement in their opening Joe McDonagh game with a twelve point win over Down.
The long distance travellers were in control throughout and having gone so close in recent seasons they look to have their sights on glory this season.
Down were very wayward in the opening passages across the breezy Ards peninsula. So much so influential Paul Sheehan’s usually reliable radar was off and Kerry took advantage straightaway.
Shane Conway exploded into the match with three quick points in a row. Conway’s third was set up by Colin Walsh and Conway’s first free was due to Walsh also, who was causing the hosts all sorts of problems from deep.
Kerry were rampant now and Down’s wide tally was mounting. Marauding midfielder Eoin Ross followed up the play and blew past Stephen Keith from close range.
Pearse Óg McCrickard finally raised a white flag after some double digit misses but a lot of the Ulster sides woes would be down to Kerry’s sweeper Fionan MacKessy.
MacKessey seemed to be everywhere. On top of his dominance the St.Brendan’s man drove forward and registered two booming scores. Buoyed by the presence of MacKessy’s performance Kerry were really energised by those two points.
In stark contrast Down were forced to change tactics, Ronan Sheehan decided to go short with the puck outs and it worked to some degree. McCrickard landed two fine scores wide on the sideline in front of the away dug out, but Kerry still led by 1-9 to 0-6 at the interval.
McCrickard lulled all in attendance that there would be a Mourne revival when clipped over the first score of the second half with a free. Kerry simply took over and overpowered their hosts with eight of the next nine scores in the game.
Kerry’s shot selection was crystal clear and Shane Conway’s confidence saw him curl over a sideline cut while defenders Cillian Trent and Darragh Shanahan also got their names on the scoresheet with ease.
Down needed McCrickard again to get going and the unusually quiet Daithí Sands got his first point before crashing an effort off the crossbar.
Substitute Ruairí McCrickard then hit the post with a goal at his mercy but he was fouled and his resultant penalty was superbly saved by John B O’Halloran. That summed up Down’s day.
Ruairí McCrickard did find the net but it was too little too late as impressive Kerry replacements Niall Mulcahy and Dan Goggin came off the bench to hit five points between them as the Munster men travelled home worthy winners.
Scorers for Kerry: Shane Conway 0-8 (4f, 1sl), Eoin Ross 1-3, Dan Goggin 0-3, Darragh Shanahan and Niall Mulchay 0-2 each, Cillian Trent, Philip Lucid, Gavin Dooley, Brandon Barrett and Eric Leen 0-1 each
Scorers for Down: Pearse Og McCrickard 0-7 (3f), Ruairí McCrickard 1-0, Jordan Doran and Tom McGrattan 0-2 each, Daithi Sands, Finn Turpin, Tim Prenter 0-1 each
Kerry: John B O’Halloran; Kyle O’Connor, Eric Leen, Evan Murphy, Cillian Trent, Darragh Shanahan, Fionan MacKessy; Eoin Ross, Paudie O’Connor; Gavin Dooley, Colin Walsh, Michael Leane; Shane Conway, Jordan Conway, Brandon Barrett. Subs: Niall Mulcahy for Dooley (42), Dan Goggin for Barrett (47), Philip Lucid for Jordan Conway (56), Seán Weir for O’Connor (64), Tom Doyle for Ross (70).
Down: Stephen Keith; Tom Murray, John McManus, Darragh Mallon; Mark Fisher, Matt Conlon, Niall McFarland; Liam Savage, Pearse Óg McCrickard; Ryan McCusker, Paul Sheehan, Barry Trainor; Tim Prenter, Daithí Sands, Tom McGrattan. Subs: Finn Turpin for McCusker (ht), Ruairí McCrickard for Sheehan (ht) Jordan Doran for Trainor (45), Oisín McManus for Prenter (51)
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)