Kerry were made to fight the whole way before getting the win over Cavan despite facing a last minute free that could have tied this senior football contest.
A full line of Kerry players were on the goal line, however, and they stopped the final last ditch Cavan effort.
Keelan Hickey opened the scoring for Kerry with a point from play, but Cavan replied with a very good Micheal Reilly goal. Gary Walsh followed with a point from a 45 while Enda Reilly cancelled out a Gary O’Driscoll score with a free to leave Cavan in a 1-2 to 0-2 lead. Enda Reilly had a brilliant point from play to push Cavan further ahead, but Kerry had three of the last four scores of the half to draw within two with Mike Jim Fitzgerald and Robbie Moran finding the target with long range efforts to lead the resurgence.
Cavan lost Mike Reilly to a red card to open the second half and it was a numerical disadvantage that they could not withstand on this occasion. They have had to contend with this occurrence in nearly all their games this season, but it is difficult to keep going back to the well.
Gavin Joyce was called to action in the aftermath to stop a Kerry goal chance, but he was powerless to stop two frees for points from Moran before Darren Moore had the net shaker to push Kerry finally into the lead.
It was followed by an excellent score from Moran but again Cavan fought back. They had their second goal from Richie Morgan from 21 yards out as they fought to get on level terms.
Peter Atkinson had a brace of Kerry points to help to extend the lead to three with time running down. Cavan did get a 14 yard free when the buzzer sounded. With the line full the effort was blocked and the Kingdom had done enough.
Kerry will be happy with the form of Kieran Quirke and his sidekicks O’Connor and Scannell. John Curran continues to excel, while Mike Jim Fitzgerald and Paddy Kelly both had good performances. Peter Atkinson and Robbie Moran were the scorers in chief, with Darren Moore doing well off the bench.
Gavin Joyce kept Cavan in the contest with his save. Sean Kelly, Micheal Reilly before his card, Enda Reilly and Mickey Sloan were others to shine on a tough day.
Kerry: 1 Ger O’Sullivan, 2 Kieran O’Connor, 3 Kieran Quirke, 4 Kieran Scannell, 5 Shane Coffey, 6 Daryl O’Brien, 7 John Curran, 8 Mike Jim Fitzgerald (0-1), 9 Paddy Kelly (0-1), 10 Keelan Hickey (0-1), 11 Gary O’Driscoll (0-1), 12 Mike Murphy, 13 Niall Farrell, 14 Robbie Moran (0-4), 15 Peter Atkinson (0-3). Sub: Darren Moore (1-2), Donal Hartnett (0-1) .
Cavan: 1 Gavin Joyce, 2 Dan King, 3 Mike O’Regan, 4 Mike Holahan, 5 Eoin Ward, 6 Sean Kelly, 7 Marty Carey, 8 Brendan O’Sullivan, 9 Micheal Reilly (1-0), 10 Conor Cosgrave, 11 Enda Reilly (0-4), 12 Ronan Fitzsimons (0-1), 13 Micheal Sloan (0-1), 14 Gary Walsh (0-2), 15 Richie Morgan (1-0).
Man of the match: Kieran Quirke (Kerry).
Champs Back on Track
Leitrim 4-16 Armagh 1-10
In a brilliant display, Leitrim returned to the winner’s inclosure with a dominating 11 point senior football win over Armagh. With a full plethora of stars on display they scored at will, and but for clemency from the line could have had a half dozen more goals.
While Armagh had the first point of the game from Caolan Treanor, Leitrim completely tore apart the Armagh back line in the following moments with four first half goals and the chance for many more.
Garth Bradshaw got the ball rolling with a pointy before Lonan Maguire followed with a brilliant goal for the winners.
Further majors followed from Eoghan Carew, Paul McComiskey and Gavin McParland, the latter against his home county.
Armagh did have a number of points from frees by Treanor and play, Sean McCreesh, but Leitrim were able to answer each time with a volley before retiring to the dressing rooms 4-4 to 0-7 ahead. They also won the scoring accolades in the second half, 0-10 to 1-3, and despite taking their points as it were they were never in danger.
Bradshaw and Meaney showed the danger they both possess with thrusting forward runs that accounted for scores for each, and assists for McParland and Adrian O’Connor who had a brace of the bench.
Armagh’s cause was not helped when Niall Roland was sent to the line in the second half. All in all, however, the marker was put down that anyone who hopes to rip the senior championship away from Leitrim will have their work cut out.
Stars galore for the winners. Maguire, Bradshaw and Meaney stood out at the back, while McComiskey, McParland, and Adrian O’Connor all had important roles in the attacking end of the field.
Armagh’s stars were few, but McCreesh, Raftery, and Caolan Treanor did have patches of positives.
Leitrim: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Mike Creegan, 3 Declan McKenna, 4 Lonan Maguire (1-2), 5 Garth Bradshaw (0-2), 6 Kevin Meaney (0-1), 7 Cian Maher, 8 Kenny O’Connor, 9 Peter Carragher, 10 Paul McComiskey (1-2), 11 Eoghan Carew (1-0), 12 Danny Sullivan, 13 Ray O’Connor, 14 Rory Woods (0-1), 15 Gavin McPartland (1-5). Subs: Adrian O’Connor (0-2), Pat Glynn (0-1), Cathal Matthews, Rory Redican.