News straight from Gaelic Park, New York: Kerry too good for Longford while Mayo manages to hold off Leitrim
Kerry too good for Longford
On Sunday, in Senior Championship action at Gaelic Park, Kerry held off a spirited Longford side. It was the Kingdom’s first win of the championship season as they’ve had a difficult time finding liftoff this year – especially against old-time New York rivals Donegal.
Whatever Kerry coaches Enda Williams and Dermot said to their warriors worked, as Niall Madine got us off the mark in the opening seconds. Ciaran Murphy won the throw-in before quickly finding Madine who made no mistake.
Longford answered quickly through two frees off the boot of David Freeman, whose second cane after Gary Maguire looked to split two defenders but found a rash of elbows and arms for his troubles.
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Kerry regained the lead with two quick scores in the sixth minute. The first from Cian Bradley got the sides back level, and then Jack Savage seconds later to give Kerry 0-2 to 0-3 advantage.
Two minutes later it was Savage again as he bobbed and weaved his way through several Longford backs before hitting his second of the day – fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Freeman latched onto a wayward pass in the 10th minute before hitting a super score to make it 0-3 to 0-4. Freeman still had it all to do and hit his point like a Stephen Curry fade away jumper.
Freeman again made sure his free went over in the 16th minute after Bradley made it 0-3 to 0-6 in the 14th minute. For much of the opening 20 minutes, Kerry found a route down the far sideline or the bleacher side of the Gaelic Park pitch. It was, of course, no surprise that that is where the always dangerous Savage prowled the blades of fake grass of the corner forward position.
At the 17th minute mark, Savage made it 0-4 to 0-7 with a point that looked like a carbon copy of most of their takes in the first half.
Longford kept playing very short kick-outs for much of the opening half, and in the 19th minute really went to work getting it from goalkeeper Alan O’Mara to the Kerry half of the pitch.
Dessie Reynolds and Robert Moroney Derham linked up to get through the midfield waters before laying off to Freeman who made it 0-5 to 0-7. After Bradley made it 0-8 for Kerry, Paddy Kiernan got Longford back to within two before Freeman found Dalton McDonagh brilliantly just outside the square. The big man from Meath passed across the square to the awaiting Darren Lynch who fired into the gaping net.
Less than a minute later, the Kingdom looked to storm right back. But when referee Paddy Donoghue cleared the square to award a penalty, Savage got it all wrong, sending his low, hard shot wide of the target.
In the 26th minute, Ciaran Bradley made all the moves to round several Longford backs, but his shot could only find the outside netting. Bradley was at a tight angle, but a goal was just about on.
Two minutes later Longford made Kerry pay for their goal misses when McDonagh and JJ Matthews broke in on a 2 on 0. McDonagh waited until the very last second before springing Matthews who had wide-open net to make it 2-7 to 0-8.
Longford played keep away for the remaining part of the half, nearly giving Kerry a walk-in chance at a goal, but they were saved by the bell of the halftime buzzer.
Kerry held most of the possession in the first half, but two mental lapses and Longford made them pay with killer goals. Freeman continues to just not miss as a free-taker in New York – foul a Longford man and you will suffer the consequences.
At 2-7 to 0-8, the score wasn’t such a disaster to overcome for Kerry, but they definitely needed something to lift their spirits as a demoralizing end to the first half.
They get that lifeline just seconds into the second half when Madine mis-kicked his point attempt that looked to have found the safety and comfort of Alan O’Mara’s gloves. However, the ball somehow squeezed between the keeper’s hands and found its way over the line for a Kerry goal.
A minute later Murphy made it 2-7 to 1-9 with a lovely touch over the bar after Kerry did well to work the ball around the perimeter of the Longford backs.
Longford introduced longtime summer fixture Brian Kavanaugh into the match, and it looked like the big ball into the big full-forward would be the game plan of their second half. First ball into Kavanuagh he was fouled, and Freeman put over to make it 2-8 to 1-9.
Savage answered for Kerry with two frees in the 38th and 41st minutes. Kerry’s Keith Sheehan was shown the black card after coming together with Freeman away from the play in the 41st minute, and David hit the resulting free to make it 2-9 to 1-11.
Kerry thought for a millisecond that they had grabbed their second goal of the day in the 43rd minute with Dave Hansbury rising up above all to bust the ball into the back of the net. However, referee Donoghue was quick and emphatic to whistle down for a square ball. Would’ve been a dream first touch for the big Kerry sub just introduced.
Savage leveled the sides in the 44th minute before Murphy gave Kerry the lead two minutes later. Murphy, smooth as butter, juking around one and pointing in front of another to make it 2-9 to 1-13.
Murphy would point again in the 50th minute before Tom Fitzgerald made it 2-9 to 1-15 as Kerry hit four scores in a row as the undermanned Longford side struggled to catch up in the final 10 minutes.
Longford tried a last-ditch goal in the 57th minute, but Pat Guerin was there to deny and was fouled in the process. The aul “bury the keeper” bit no longer applies in modern-day football, and after Guerin composed himself, Kerry were back up in the Longford half. Keith Quinn finished off the day’s scoring with a super point to make it 2-10 to 1-16 at the final horn.
LONGFORD: 1 A O’Mara, 2 L Hughes, 3 K Sully, 4 A Long, 5 R Brady, 6 D Reynolds, 7 D Carrick, 8 R Derham, 9 P Kiernan, 10 JJ Matthews, 11 D Freeman, 12 D Lynch, 13 M Ledwith, 14 D McDonagh, 15 G Maguire. Subs: B Kavanaugh.
KERRY: 1 P Guerin, 2 K Sheehan, 3 J Dwyer, 4 R McLoughlin, 5 R Hannah, 6 T Fitzgerald, 7 K Quinn, 8 M Dongham, 9 C Murphy, 10 N Madine, 11 D Casey, 12 G Walsh, 13 J Savage, 14 C Bradley, 15 L Kelly. Subs: D Hansbury, J Linnane, M Cronin, J McCarthy, E Fawley.
Man of the Match: Ciaran Murphy (Kerry).
Mayo holds off Leitrim
MAYO ran out victors in their Intermediate Championship clash with Leitrim. They were led by David Hansbury, Paul Convey, Matthew Queenan, and man of the match Tom Conway.
Mayo got goals from Shane Slattery and Paul Convey with Convey converting his from the spot.
Leitrim got scores from Paul Ellis, Ronan Kennedy, and Nathan Rooney, but ultimately in the end, the goals downed the Leitrim lads as they could not overcome the deficit late in the second half.