Kerry 3-8 Donegal 0-11
Kerry used an early good start and a stifling defense to get the championship points from this senior football encounter.
Leading 0-4 to nil until Donegal’s first score on 20 minutes, the stage was already set as the play of Sean Kelly, John Curran and Conor McCormack in the Kerry defense was already making life difficult for their opponents. Donegal had a second point with five minutes in the first half, but that was the total from the half hour. Not good enough at senior level.
Kerry fired in the last 1-1 of the first 30 with Anthony Sweeney hitting both, the goal at the end of a flowing move that he iced. He was already showing his undoubted talents.
Granted the Donegal defense was not letting Kerry have free reign, with Dan Jackson and Dan Geraghty doing Trojan work in the middle line. Donegal narrowed the lead to 1-5 to 0-3 within a minute of the restart when Mickey Annette fired over. That was cancelled out by an Alan Halpin score, but then Donegal had their best period of the game.
Points from Conor Lynam were followed by a brilliant score by James Moynagh. The Cross native then took the best out of Kerry keeper Jer O’Sullivan when his low shot was stopped. Dan Geraghty added a point from a 50 and the gap was down to two, 1-6 to 0-7.
They lost Adrian O’Connor to a second yellow with 10 minutes left, and on what has now become a pattern on their season, they battled against the river with one less oar.
Sweeney and Moynagh swapped points before Ross Wherity had a gem of a goal when he was set free by the excellent play of Donal Hartnett and Sweeney. His finish was superb.
After a Lynam point, Hartnett followed suit with an excellent finish for goal number three. He followed with a point before consolation scores from Jackson and Duffy were popped over for Donegal.
Kerry will be delighted with the form of all six defenders; McCormack, Curran and Kelly were particularly impressive. Curran continues to excel after a brilliant season in 13.
Mike Jim Fitzgerald did a lot of good work, and we still haven’t seen the best of Ross Wherity. Dan Cahalane did a lot of gritty work while Conor Ryan, the tremendous Sweeney and Keelan Hickey all had good moments.
Mike Clarke, Dan Geraghty, James Moynagh second half, and the starved of possession Conor Lynam were the most prominent Donegal players. Lynam needs to be supplied as he is a game changer.
Kerry: 1 Jer Sullivan, 2 John Fitzsimmons, 3 Conor McCormack, 4 James Huvane, 5 Ronan McLoughlin, 6 Sean Kelly, 7 John Curran, 8 Mike Jim Fitzgerald, 9 Ross Wherity (1-0), 10 Conor Ryan, 11 Dan Cahalane, 12 Keelan Hickey (0-1), 13 Ger McCarten, 14 Gary O’Driscoll (0-1), 15 Anthony Sweeney (1-4). Subs: Alan Halpin (0-1), Donal Hartnett (1-1).
Donegal: 1 Brian Cuilinan, 2 Mike Clarke, 3 Dan Jackson (0-1), 4 Joe Bell, 5 Colin Devlin, 6 Dan Geraghty (0-1), 7 Paul McGinley, 8 Adrian O’Connor, 9 Brendan Quigley, 10 James Moynagh (0-2), 11 Steven Duffy (0-1), 12 PJ Flanagan, 13 Mickey Annette (0-1), 14 Peter McNellus, 15 Conor Lynam (0-5). Subs: Kenny O’Connor, Ciaran Slattery.
Man of the Match: Anthony Sweeney (Kerry).
Referee: Tommy Fahey.