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Allianz NFL Division 1 – Kerry 2-16 Galway 1-9
Kerry defeated Galway by 2-16 to 1-9 in Round 4 of the Allianz GAA Football National League Division 1 on Sunday at Pearse Stadium Galway.
Kerry have the hunger back
Galway 1-9 Kerry 2-16
By Brendan O’Brien for the Irish Examiner newspaper
Monday, March 15, 2010
CRISIS? What crisis? Ten days ago, novenas were being offered up for Kerry’s season after two opening league defeats and a loss of key personnel from the panel. Now look at them. Two wins in the space of a week and suddenly Kerry are beginning to morph into something like the ominous force with which we are more accustomed. And the victories are only the bare bones of the story. Men like Colm Cooper, Declan O’Sullivan and Marc O Sé have only just recently returned to active service after an extended winter in hibernation and they have hit the ground running. Cooper may have maintained his scoring averages last season, but there was no doubting that he wasn’t playing with the same verve or confidence. The same can’t be said now.
His body language was so much better yesterday and, with O’Sullivan at his best and Donaghy making life a misery for Finian Hanley, Kerry were always going to be in with a shout of racking up a score. “Training never lies,” said Jack O’Connor. “Declan O’Sullivan was going really well in training Wednesday night and I had the feeling that he would cut loose. He scored a great goal and that gave everyone confidence to play after that.” The win wasn’t built just on their stars but on younger colleagues like David O’Callaghan and Kieran O’Leary as well. The pair lack the bulk of established county men but played like they will be around long enough to remedy that. Add in the equally impressive Adrian O’Connell at wing-back and the hunger shown by each and every one of his five subs and Jack O’Connor had every reason to be satisfied with the competition for places. “Overall, we are happy. Whether we can replace the great players that are gone I don’t know, but these players want to play, they want the shirt and they are mad for road.”
A word of warning. It would be unwise to go overboard about a win against Galway who, by Joe Kernan’s admission, are building from scratch and this was the worst of their four displays thus far. The Armagh man described the display as a reality check and the suspicion is that the players just aren’t there to launch a concerted bid for a first All-Ireland title since 2001 although, to be fair, they are missing some big names. As a game, it was a slow burner. The first quarter was tepid enough with six of the first nine scores coming from dead balls and the boot of either Michael Meehan or Cooper. Kerry had played slightly more of the football by that point but it was a superb Galway move that finally engineered some daylight between the sides on the scoreboard after 20minutes. Wing-back David Reilly broke up a Kerry move and fed Garry Sice whose burst of pace along the left sideline left three men in his wake and his long ball into the square was palmed to the net by Meehan.
The Caltra man squeezed in between goalkeeper Brendan Kealy and Tom O’Sullivan to poke the ball home but he paid for his determination with injury and was carried off minutes later. Joe Kernan must have been cursing his luck. With Sean Armstrong already sidelined and Padraig Joyce yet to return, Meehan’s was an absence he could ill afford and Galway went 34 minutes before recording their next score. The initial prognosis was that Meehan had damaged both lateral and cruciate ligaments but it will take an MRI scan today to determine the full extent of it. For Kernan, it will have been a sleepless night. As it is, Galway’s chances disappeared with Meehan. O’Connor said as much afterwards but it bodes ill for theConnacht side if they are so dependant on any one player, no matter how good.
Aided by a second-half wind, Kerry had scored 2-6 by the time Galway had recovered from the loss and the result was a lock for the visitors with almost 20 minutes still to play. Their first goal, a Declan O’Sullivan run and finish on the hoof, was the pick of the afternoon while Cooper’s green flag owed everything to O’Leary’s clever ball across the square from out wide. Kernan reshuffled his deck midway through the half and the repositioned Paul Conroy did manage three points from centre-forward but it was all too little and much too late. As Kernan said himself, it had been men against boys.
Scorers for Galway: M Meehan 1-4 (0-3f), P Conroy 0-3, D Blake 0-1, F Breathnach 0-1.
Scorers for Kerry: C Cooper 1-7 (0-5f), Declan O’Sullivan 1-1, D O’Callaghn 0-3, B Sheehan 0-3 (1f), A O’Connell 0-1, A Maher 0-1.
Subs for Galway: C De Paor for Meehan 22, F Breathnach for Coleman 43, D Meehan for Reilly 46, D Cummins for Clancy 60.
Subs for Kerry: A Maher for Scanlon 56, B Sheehan for O’Callaghan 56, Darran O’Sullivan for O’Leary 56, G O’Driscoll for Quirke 66, P O’Connor for Declan O’Sullivan 66.
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo)
Galway (NFL v Kerry): E O Conghaile; D O’Neill, F Hanley, D Burke; G O’Donnell, D Blake, D Reilly; B Cullinane, P Conroy; G Sice, J Bergin, N Coleman; M Meehan, N Joyce, M Clancy.