Allianz FL D1: Kerry maintain impressive form
Alllianz Football League Division One
KERRY 0-17 MONAGHAN 0-13
By Paul Brennan at Fitzgerald Stadium
Kerry eked out their fifth win of the League to maintain their impressive start under new manager Peter Keane.
For Monaghan their concerns are far more pressing as they, with Cavan, hover over the relegation trap-door with just two rounds to save themselves from Division 2 football next year.
Given how these two locked horns in a thrilling Super 8 game in Clones last July and the paths the pair went after that, it's hard to conceive that Kerry are riding high on top of Division One with maximum points while Monaghan are possibly one more bad result from dropping out of the top flight for next year.
This will be a tough defeat for Monaghan to take as they made all the running and led all the way until the 65th minute when Stephen O'Brien's point edged Kerry in front for the first time, and late scores from Dara Moynihan, Tom O'Sullivan and two from Sean O'Shea - the last a superb sideline kick - ensured the victory for the hosts.
Despite the heavy snow that fell throughout the hurling curtain-raiser between Kerry and Meath, this game was open and fast and produced some excellent scores from either side, even if the football wasn't always of the highest quality, which was forgivable in the circumstances.
The first half had produced 16 scores, with Monaghan 0-9 to 0-7 ahead at the interval, with Conor McManus to the fore with four converted frees, a pointed mark and another from play. Gavin Doogan, Stephen O'Hanlon and Conor McCarthy chipped in with the other scores.
Kerry also had four different scorers in the half, with O'Shea converting two frees and one from play, the excellent Tommy Walsh scoring from play and a mark, with O'Brien and O'Sullivan also finding the target.
The tactic from both sides was clear and similar: Kerry trying to find Walsh inside and see who could feed off him, while Monaghan sought to bring McManus into the game as much as possible, with the support cast looking to prop up the Clontibret man.
Twice in that first half the teams were level, at two points each and seven apiece, but Monaghan led at every stage otherwise after McManus pointed them into a second minute lead.
Early second half points from O'Shea (free) and Walsh - who converted three offensive marks - had the teams level again, and it was near score for score for the next 20 minutes until Kerry finally wrestled the lead from the visitors through O'Brien.
Monaghan had Darren Hughes send off in the 67th minute, which left them stretched and a Kerry team growing in confidence found the gaps to engineer those late scores to all but book their place in the final at the end of the month.
For Monaghan it's four defeats on the spin now after that opening round win over Dublin, and they'll face neighbours Cavan next in what will be a relegation four-pointer.
Scorers for Kerry: Sean O'Shea 0-8 (6fs, 1 s/l), Tommy Walsh 0-4, Stephen O'Brien 0-2, Tom O'Sullivan 0-2, Dara Moynihan 0-1.
Scorers for Monaghan: Conor McManus 0-8 (6fs), Gavin Doogan 0-1, Stephen O'Hanlon 0-1, Conor McCarthy 0-1, Darren Hughes 0-1, Colin Walshe 0-1
KERRY: Shane Ryan, Peter Crowley, Jack Sherwood, Brian Ó Beaglaíoch, Gavin Crowley, Paul Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan, Jack Barry, Mark Griffin, Dara Moynihan, Sean O’Shea, Gavin O’Brien, Kevin McCarthy, Tommy Walsh, Stephen O’Brien.
Subs: Michael Geaney for K McCarthy (HT), Shane Enright for M Griffin (52), Graham O’Sullivan for B Ó Beagaloich (55), Tomás Ó Sé for J Sherwood (59), Jason Foley for G Crowley (71).
MONAGHAN: Rory Beggan, Colin Walshe, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie, Colm Lennon, Vincent Corey, Karl O’Connell, Darren Hughes, Gavin Doogan, Ryan McAnespie, Conor McCarthy, Stephen O’Hanlon, Dermot Malone, Conor McManus, Dessie Ward.
Subs: Dessie Mone for C Lennon (44), Owen Duffy for D Ward (61), Jack McCarron for S O'Hanlon (63), Barry McGinn for D Malone (70).
REFEREE: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon).