Kerry strength in depth too much for new-look Monaghan

Allianz Football League Division One, round two: Monaghan 1-12 Kerry 3-15

Kerry’s David Clifford is put under pressure from Monaghan’s Ryan O’Toole
Kerry’s David Clifford is put under pressure from Monaghan’s Ryan O’Toole during their game in Clones. picture Mark Marlow (" ")

Kerry’s bench press proved too powerful for Monaghan as the Kingdom came north and got their League show on the road in some style.

One consolation for the hosts is that their visitors had to go hard to get this win, with Farney boss Vinny Corey noting: “We probably had the breeze but they put out their strongest team in that second half just to off-set any advantage we might have had.”

Indeed Kerry sent on superstar David Clifford late in the first half and, despite the close attentions of man-marker and Monaghan goal-scorer Ryan O’Toole, the Fossa man still found the net just before the hour mark to settle the outcome of this exciting contest.

A freakish goal from Seanie O’Shea in the 70th minute, with the ball heading well wide before swinging and dropping in, made the score-line even starker, but before that Kerry already had too much depth and quality for this new-look Monaghan.

Kerry’s Sean O’Shea holds possesion under pressure from Monaghan’s Ciaran McNulty
Kerry’s Sean O’Shea holds possesion under pressure from Monaghan’s Ciaran McNulty during their game in Clones. picture Mark Marlow (" ")

Kerry were also able to send on Clifford’s brother – and successor as captain – Paudie for the second half, followed by Tadhg Morley and Adrian Spillane.

In contrast, Monaghan’s replacements were mostly newer faces, including Stephen Mooney, Micheal McCarville, Andrew Woods, and Bobby Walker.

Corey was pleased with how they performed, along with fresh starters Kevin Sheridan and Ciaran McNulty, coming in for Ryan McAnespie and Micheal Bannigan, with the latter ruled out by an injury during the warm-up:

“We have a lot of boys to come in and hopefully we will integrate them over the next few weeks but the first two weeks have been pleasing from that aspect in how the younger players have come in and acquitted themselves at this level.”

Kerry sent out a strong side, but with some newcomers in attack, and O’Connor was delighted to see one of them, Cillian Burke, grab a goal just before the half hour, which helped the Kingdom back into a lead they were never to lose:

“It’s great for him, we think he’s a great prospect, a lot of potential. Young lads need some confidence to grow, and regardless of how he went last week, we were going to go with him again. Same with Conor and Dylan Geaney, they just need to be exposed to more games like that.”

Indeed Burke began brightly, racing through to win a third minute penalty when he went down on the run after colliding with a defender – but after consulting with his umpires referee Sean Hurson made the unusual decision to overturn that call.

O’Connor responded to the use of that adjective with a smile, saying: “Unusual is very diplomatic. I was turning away thinking you’d a good chance to go up. It looked a penalty from where I was.”

Kerry manager Jack O’Connor in Clones.
Kerry manager Jack O’Connor in Clones. picture Mark Marlow (" ")

The next minute a sheaf of notes were blown away from the Kerry management team on the sideline but they recovered them and began playing to plan, albeit after Jason Irwin opening the scoring for Monaghan.

The Kerry attack was slick and quick, and alert to pressurise the Monaghan kick-outs, and they soon reeled off five points in as many minutes, all from play.

Sean O’Shea scored the first two and set up the fifth, for Conor Geaney, with the Kenmare man looking very lively at full-forward, drifting out to the right and then deeper.

A crazy 90 seconds of three goal chances then followed, with Monaghan finding the net after the quarter-hour. Ryan O’Toole was denied by a Shane Ryan save and from Kerry’s quick counter Burke looked to go round Darren McDonnell, only for the home keeper to tip the ball away.

Monaghan broke back themselves and full-back Killian Lavelle hand-passed across for O’Toole to palm to the net.

The hosts added three quick scores to lead, but Kerry then dominated the rest of the half, albeit only after Ryan kept out a goal-bound shot from wing-back Kevin Loughran, while big Gary Mohan also lost control of the ball while running clear on goal.

The open contest continued with Graham O’Sullivan supplying Burke to rifle a shot into the top corner of the net and the Kingdom extended their lead to four at the break, 1-9 to 1-5.

Corey acknowledged he was still optimistic at that stage – “three or four points down at half-time wasn’t a big thing with that sort of breeze at your back” – and McNulty quickly narrowed the gap.

Allied to blocking up the middle to stop runners, the scoring power of O’Shea kept Monaghan at arm’s length, and Kerry stretched their lead out to five points, before that man David Clifford made sure of the win.

Kerry’s David Clifford celebrates during their game in Clones.
Kerry’s David Clifford celebrates during their game in Clones. picture Mark Marlow (" ")

He’d fumbled a couple of balls with O’Toole breathing down his neck – although Kerry still snapped up scores from the loose balls – but he was decisive when he received possession on the left and fired low to the net.

Jack McCarron kept plugging away, and scoring, as did substitute Mooney, although his point followed that fortuitous goal from O’Shea.

The sides head into the short break level on points, but Kerry will be looking up while Monaghan face into a testing trip to Derry.

Monaghan: D McDonnell; R Wylie, K Lavelle, R O’Toole (1-0); K Sheridan, K Duffy (capt.) (0-1, mark), K Loughran; J Wilson, G Mohan (0-1); S O’Hanlon, C McNulty (0-1), M Hamill; D Garland, J McCarron (0-3, 0-1 mark), J Irwin (0-1).

Subs: S Mooney (0-1) for Garland (h-t); M McCarville (0-1) for Wilson (42); A Woods for Irwin (52); K O’Connell for Sheridan (56); B Walker for Loughran (70).

Kerry: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley (0-1), D Casey (0-1); T O’Sullivan (0-2), P Murphy, G White; D O’Connor, J O’Connor; R Buckley, D Geaney, C Burke (1-0); C Geaney (0-1), S O’Shea (capt.) (1-7, 0-2 frees), D Moynihan (0-1).

Subs: D Clifford (1-1) for Buckley (32); P Clifford (0-1) for C Geaney (h-t); T Morley for G O’Sullivan (48); A Spillane for D Geaney (56); B D O’Sullivan for Moynihan (62).

Blood sub: Sean O’Brien for Casey (67-end).

Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).