Christy Ring Cup Hurling – Kerry 1-20 Meath 1-17

EGAN GOAL ENOUGH TO SEE KINGDOM REACH RING SEMI FINALS

Christy Ring Cup – Rd 2: Kerry 1-20 Meath 1-17

By Murt Murphy for kerrygaa.ie

Kerry after withstanding initial Meath resistance in the opening half, eventually came good in the second half of this Christy Ring Cup second round game, played at the Austin Stack Park on Saturday afternoon.  It was the result more than the performance that mattered to Kerry  and John Meyler but the Kerry boss will want his team to up their performance a couple of notches for the semi final. However one of the positives from yesterday’s win, was the fact that Kerry will now have a three week break before they play the semi final, against a team yet to come through the back door and this will give the Kingdom time to put things right.  It should also see the return of a number of key regulars from injury and suspension, including Andrew Keane, Colin Harris, John Griffin and Mike Conway to mention just four.

Kerry’s defence was solid enough with the fullback line of James Godley, Tom Murnane and Eamon Fitzgerald outstanding throughout and Murnane and Fitzgerald certainly saved Kerry’s bacon late on.  Darran Dineen had a fine game at midfield with his surging runs and point taking while John Egan showed all his artistry when moved to the attack late on, with his 65th minute goal proving to be the crucial score.  However, Kerry failed to collect any worthwhile breaking ball around the middle third of the field, although some of fetching and work rate of Jason Casey at wing back for the Kingdom was magnificent , and was another factor that contributed to this narrow Kerry win.

The Kerry attack never moved with the fluency that it can, but when the red lights were flashing twenty minutes into the second half, the team responded with young James Flaherty showing deft stick work to level the contest at (0-17 apiece) and for the final ten minutes, Kerry blitzed Meath and won have won far more comfortably but for Meath’s last minute goal.  Overall, it was very much a case of mission accomplished by Kerry, but John Meyler and his management team will be keen to try and get the side performing consistently for longer periods, but to be in the Christy Ring Cup semi final’s without ever having hit top gear, might well mean that the big performance will come on the day that matters most, in the semi final and/or hopefully the final!

Kerry had to make one change before the start when they lost Mike Conway, but Liam Boyle came in to play the pivotal role at number six, and had a fine first half. Kerry opened brightly and raced 0-7 to 0-3 clear inside the opening twelve minutes, thanks to three points from Shane Nolan and two pointed frees from Darragh O’Connell and one each from the Boyle brothers Aidan and Mikey. In fact Aidan’s effort in the 11th minute deserved a goal after a sweeping move started by Jason Casey, saw Gary O’Brien find James Flaherty on his right and Flaherty’s inviting low cross was met by Boyle whose goal bound shot was brilliantly deflected over the bar by keeper Shane McCann.

Meath had two points from wing forward Joey Keena and one from free taker Nicky Horan but Kerry after such a bright opening seemed to take their foot of the pedal and Meath got back into the game thanks to contributions from Horan, Keena and Peter Durnin.  The game was tied at 0-10 apiece after twenty minutes and Kerry should have goaled in the 24th minute, when Jason Casey fetched a superb ball in a forest of hurls and played the ball through to Gary O’Brien, who had only the keeper to beat, but he somehow missed the gaping goal, and had to settle for a point instead.

Kerry shot a number of bad wides approaching half time, and Shane Nolan was almost through for a goal on the stroke of half time, but he was hauled down, just missing out on a penalty by a whisker. Darragh O’Connell did try for a goal, his rasping shot was turned over the bar, as Kerry led 0-13 to 0-10 at the interval.  Kerry were forced to regroup for the second half with Adrian Royle coming in for Aidan Boyle and that resulted in Liam Boyle moving from defence to the forty.

Meath were on top in the third quarter as Kerry appeared to be strangely listless and with Horan unerring from frees, Kerry lost their way up front and other than a Darragh O’Connell free, in the opening twenty four minutes of the second half, no other forward scored , with Kerry’s other two points coming from midfielder Darren Dineen.  In fact Meath led briefly twice, firstly 0-16 to 0-15 when Peter Durnin pointed and then in the 55th minute when Horan converted a close in free for a foul on himself.

However Kerry upped the tempo for the final fifteen minutes with Eamon Fitzgerald, Tom Murnane and Darran Dineen driving them on and they put the issue beyond doubt with a succession of points from James Flaherty, Shane Nolan, and Darragh O’Connell was followed by a 65th minute goal, set up by a low cross field pass from Mikey Boyle, that John Egan caught and ghosting past a couple of Meath defenders, he clinically finished to the roof of the Meath net for the crucial score from one of Kerry’s classiest finishers.

Meath huffed and puffed late on but they could not blow Kerry’s house down, with the magnet like hands of Tom Murnane and Eamon Fitzgerald repelling their best efforts and despite a great late save from Bernard Rochford, Michael Cole did score an injury time consolation goal but it was only a consolation! Kerry now awaits their semi final opponents in three weeks time and still looks the team to beat in the Christy Ring Cup.

Scorers:

Kerry

D O’Connell 0-7 ( 0-6 frees), J Egan 1-1, S Nolan 0-4, D Dineen, M Boyle, J Flaherty 0-2 each, G O’Brien and A Boyle 0-1 each

Meath

N Horan 0-7 ( 0-6 frees, 0-1 ’65), M Cole 1-1, J Keena and P Durnin 0-3 each G O’Neill, N Kirby and S O’Donoghue 0-1 each

Man of the Match: Tom Murnane (Kerry)

Teams:

Kerry

B Rochford 7 , J Godley 7 , T Murnane 9 , E Fitzgerald 8 , J Casey 8 , L Boyle 7 , P O’Grady 7 , D Dineen 8 , J Egan 8 , M Boyle 7 , G O’Brien 6 , S Nolan 7 , D O’Connell 6 , A Boyle 6 , J Flaherty 7 Subs; A Royle 7 for A Boyle (h/t), P O’Keeffe 6 for S Nolan inj (52)

Meath

S McCann 7 , D O’Donoghue 6 , E Fitzgerald 7 , W Mahady 7 , M Horan7 , P Fagan 8 , D Kirby7 , P Keogh 6 , G O’Neill 7 , J Keena 8 , N Kirby 6 , M Cole 8 , D Raleigh 5 , N Horan 7 , P Durnin 7

Subs: P Geoghan 7 for D Raleigh (28), S O’Donoghue8 for P Keogh (h/t), E Keogh 6 for G O’Neill (65)

Referee: C Lyons (Cork) 8