Monaghan 0-8 Kerry 0-7
The new boys on the block, Monaghan, defeated the reigning county senior football champions with a determined, dogged and successful performance that they should be commended for.
With an attitude of never say die, they went behind five times but kept getting on terms with a free after forced attacks. Five of their total came from placed balls, with both McArdle and Connolly the kickers.
Kerry had the lead constantly but could not get more than one ahead; in fact they found it very hard to even force the defense to give up a free as determined tackling by Sean Kelly, Paul Lamb, Mikey O’Regan and Shane Bogue made life very difficult for Gary O’Driscoll and his compatriots.
In the first half Kerry edged into the lead four times with Keelan Hickey firing three of the points, but on each occasion Monaghan came back, with a chip from play by Gary White, two frees from James Connolly and a Paul McArdle score with minutes left.
Monaghan were generous, however, as twice it was defensive giveaways that helped to create the Kerry score. White was showing constantly with Lamb continuing his return to top form. He tackles with vigor and has the heart of a lion. His distribution is also excellent on the way out from the back.
While Kerry was failing in attack, their defense was keeping them in the game nullifying numerous attacks by their opponents. Monaghan hit the front for the first time with a free from JC in the fourth minute of the second half. Back to back points from Ger McCarten in the 10th and 16th minutes put Kerry back in front in what was a nondescript period.
The winning of the contest occurred in the following 10 minute period. It was Monaghan who stood tall with a three point segment for this game could only be called a tornado of scores.
McArdle had a simply enough free. He then followed with a sublime effort from the right corner on the 14 yard line, when Caoimhghin O’Callaghan was fouled on the end line.
JC followed with another gem from a tight angle on the left, this time from play, and with minutes left Monaghan were ahead by two.
Kerry did get a point back from an Anthony Sweeney free, but the Monaghan defense did well not to give up any other frees in the dying moments as they hung on for their first win off the year.
Monaghan: 1 Alan Hearty, 2 Paul Lamb, 3 Sean Kelly, 4 Mike O’Regan, 5 Paul Farhan, 6 Shane Bogue, 7 Tommy McGee, 8 Kevin Smith, 9 Gary White, 10 Caoimhghin O’Callaghan, 11 Paul O’Hara, 12 Padraig Graham, 13 James Connolly, 14 Paul McArdle, 15 Rory Molloy. Subs: Bonnie Duffy, Shane McKenna.
Kerry: 1 Jer Sullivan, 2 John Fitzsimons, 3 Conor McCormack, 4 James Huvane, 5 Ronan McLoughlin, 6 Sean Kelly, 7 John Curran, 8 Mike Jim Fitzgerald, 9 Kieran O’Connor, 10 Ross Wherity, 11 Niall Farrell, 12 Keelan Hickey, 13 Ger McCarten, 14 Gary O’Driscoll, 15 Anthony Sweeney.
Referee: Lawrence McGrath.