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2023 Allianz Hurling League Division 2A – Kerry 1-20 Down 1-19
Kerry defeated Down by 1-20 to 1-19 in the Allianz Hurling League on Sunday 19th March at Austin Stack Park Tralee.
Brilliant Jordan Conway strike allows Kerry hurlers rally late on to claim the spoils from Downhttps://t.co/WYjwADHqRu
— The Kerryman (@kerryman_ie) March 19, 2023
Brilliant Jordan Conway strike allows Kerry hurlers rally late on to claim the spoils from Down
ALLIANZ NHL DIVISION 2A
Kerry 1-20 Down 1-19
Report by Damian Stack for the Kerryman newspaper
You know what? Kerry needed that. They needed the win and the confidence boost it provides, they needed that far more than they needed the pair of league points on offer that’s for sure.
The manner in which the victory over Down was achieved too, coming from behind in the last quarter, with some sensational scores, and a brilliant goal from Jordan Conway, will provide a real shot in the arm for this bunch of hurlers.
While far from a vintage display in the round, the way the Kingdom rounded out that game will give them huge encouragement ahead of next weekend’s trip to Tullamore to face Offaly in the semi-final.
There were times in the second half when Down looked to be streaking clear, particularly after a second half goal for Tom McGrattan helped them to a five-point advantage.
That Kerry were able to reel them back in – the subs bench providing 1-6 for the home side – tells us that despite somewhat patchy form, their desire hasn’t stated. They still want to achieve, and who’s to say this won’t be a turning point in their season?
With guys like Mikey Boyle – brilliant down the back straight as always – and Eric Leen fronting up at the back, with Daniel Collins rarely putting a foot wrong at midfield and with Shane Conway again showing the type of form we know him capable of up front, there’s genuine hope ahead of next weekend.
Some things, though, will need improving upon. Stephen Molumphy’s men had 22 missed chances in all, encompassing fourteen wides, some of which were eminently within range. A reminder that this side still have a ways to go, that not everything has changed because of one solid fifteen minutes of hurling.
For example, the pattern of the first half was oddly familiar. The Kingdom started quite well, encouragingly even. The passing was much, much sharper than it was in Newbridge last weekend, and with three early scores it appeared as though they might open up properly for the first time in a while.
The third of those three early points, with Pádraig Boyle assisting Fionán Mackessy running off the shoulder on seven minutes was nicely assertive and direct.
Alas, and not for the first time, Kerry’s shooting rather let them down. By the end of the first half the green and gold had shot eight wides, hit the upright with another and dropped a tenth chance short, allowing Down the confidence to build their way into the fixture.
Having shot three unanswered up the seventh minute, Kerry were outscored by Down eight points to one over the following eleven minutes to leave it a double score game, 0-4 to 0-8 with Dáithí Sands and Pearse Óg McCrickard really coming into their own for the Mourne men.
A pair of points on 24 and 27 minutes from the impressive Jason Diggins – in his first start back – brought the home side back into the tie. Down, however, still managed to outscore Kerry four points to three to the half-time break to establish a nice bridgehead – 0-9 to 0-12.
Down manager Ronan Sheehan would have been quietly confident that his charges could push on in the second half against a Kerry side with nothing tangible to play for, even if the home side did have a strengthening breeze into the Mitchels’ end for the second half.
Instead Kerry started with something of a bang, Pádraig Boyle hitting the crossbar with a goal-scoring chance before Jordan Conway got his first point of the afternoon.
By the 43rd minute Kerry were back level at 0-13 each, with Dan Goggin shooting a pair of beautiful points in quick succession. It was still level pegging ten minutes later – 0-15 apiece – before Down put on something of a spurt, starting with a shot at goal by Tom McGrattan, which stuck the upright on 53 minutes.
A warning shot across the bows for Kerry, albeit one not heeded with Tim Prenter assisting McGrattan for a classy goal just a minute later, 0-15 to 1-15. The Mourne men carrying on their purple patch to extend their advantage to five points by 62 minutes in the wake of a Paul Sheehan free.
It was looking fairly ominous for the Kingdom at this juncture, but you know what they say? It’s always darkest before dawn and within a couple of minutes Kerry were back to within a score.
First a Shane Conway free on 62 minutes and then two minutes after that a brilliant goal by his namesake, Jordan, who took a very clever assist from full-forward Michael Leane before planting the ball to keeper Stephen Keith’s left and into the side netting.
A point from the goal-scorer a minute later brought the Kingdom back level – 1-18 to 1-18 – and while Sheehan from play sent Down clear one more time, from there on out Kerry took control with points from Goggin and Philip Lucid to take the victory by the narrowest of margins.
A deserved victory? Just about you’d have to say. Down, who stay up following Carlow’s victory over Derry in Dr Cullen Park, won’t be too disheartened by the result one suspects with a Joe McDonagh Cup clash between the sides in Ballycran still to come in a couple of weeks.
In the meantime, Kerry have a league semi-final to negotiate and, who knows, maybe even a league final showdown with Kildare. All we’ll say is stranger things have happened.
KERRY: John Brendan O’Halloran, Jason Diggins (0-2), Eric Leen, Eoin Ross, Evan Murphy, Mikey Boyle, Paudie O’Connor, Daniel Collins (0-1), Gavin Dooley, Kyle O’Connor, Fionán Mackessy (0-1), Michael Leane, Shane Conway (0-9, 6f, 1 ‘65), Dáithí Griffin, Pádraig Boyle (0-1)
Subs: Cillian Trant for F Mackessy (inj), 15, Jordan Conway (1-2) for D Griffin, 30, Dan Goggin (0-3) for G Dooley, half-time, Philip Lucid (0-1) for P Boyle, 51, Conor O’Hare for E Leen (inj), 60
DOWN: Stephen Keith, John McManus, Tim Prenter (0-1), Tom Murray, Niall McFarland, Caolan Teggart, Mark Fisher, Matt Conlon, Liam Savage, Dáithí Sands (0-3), Paul Sheehan (0-6, 5f), Stuart Martin, Pearse Óg McCrickard (0-3), Chris Egan (0-2), Tom McGrattan (1-3)
Subs: Barry Trainor for T Murray, 29, Finn Turpin (0-1) for C Egan, 46, Ryan McCusker for S Martin, 62, Jordan Doran for T Prenter, 67
REFEREE: Patrick Murphy (Carlow)
Team Announcement: Kerry vs Down – Allianz Hurling League
— Kerry GAA (@Kerry_Official) March 17, 2023