All-Ireland JFC semi-final
A slow start from Kildare proved to be a fatal blow as the Lilywhites lost out on a place in the All-Ireland Junior Championship final despite mounting a brave comeback against Kerry in Navan on Saturday evening.
Having trailed by nine points in the middle of the first half the Leinster champions managed a brilliant fightback to eventually close to within two points of their opponents, but Kerry got a second wind in the third quarter which eventually made the difference and helped push them over the line.
It was a serious effort from Kildare, who captured the Leinster title just two weeks ago, as Kerry are a seasoned team at this level and are chasing a fourth All-Ireland title in a row.
By the midway point of the first half it looked like this game was only going one way as the Lilywhites trailed by 1-6 to 0-1 after a disastrous start. The forwards were unable to make possession stick on the rare opportunities the ball made its way up that end, the midfield was cleaned out for the most part, and each defender became badly exposed in one on one situations as Kerry’s attack clicked very well.
The Kingdom had their first point on the board after less than a minute thanks to a Niall Ó’Sé free, and though Kildare goalkeeper Declan Campbell hit back with a well struck effort from 40 metres, Kerry completely dominated for the next 15 minutes. They could have had at least two or three goals if they worked their opportunities better, but they seemed content to take their points. Kieran Muprhy kicked them back into the lead in the fifth minute, before Paudie Clifford trapsed through the Kildare defence all too easily before slotting home the game’s first goal.
Kerry piled on the pressure after that as Thomas Hickey and Ronan Murphy landed points from play before Hickey added another from a free to widen the gap to eight points.
Kildare began to play a bit after that. Mark Sherry moved out to midfield to exert some control while Brian Travers went into full-forward and immediately started causing problems. Mark Nolan swerved over an excellent point that signalled the start of the Kildare revival, before Clifford and Barry Noone swapped points at either end.
Each side could have had a goal within a minute of each other as Niall Ó’Sé blazed a point-blank effort over at one end before Travers had a close range shot bravely blocked by Kerry forward Evan Cronin. A Ronan Murphy point stretched the gap to nine points with 22 minutes gone, but that’s when Kildare found their rhythm and really started to click into gear.
Travers started a purple patch which yielded six points by lofting over a score, while Noone tagged on a couple of frees either side of another long range effort from Campbell. David Malone then turned his man inside out to get through on goal, but he opted to fist the ball over rather than take on Kerry stopper Dara Ó’Sé.
Another eye-catching free from Campbell in stoppage time ensured that the only thing between the sides was Clifford’s goal as Kerry went in with a 1-9 to 0-9 lead.
Colin Ward’s men cut the gap down to just two points five minutes into the second half when Noone tapped over a handy score, but the Kildare challenge faltered after that as Kerry regained a measure of control. Once they had pretty much got all the wides out of their system Niall Ó’Sé eventually posted their first score since the 21st minute with a tidy effort from play, and further scores from Padraig O’Connor and Denis Daly helped to copper fasten the Kingdom’s lead.
The green and gold continued their wave of momentum through further points from the impressive Clifford and one from a Hickey free, stretching their lead out to seven points with 13 minutes left to play.
Nolan ended the opposition’s streak with another brilliant score, but Kerry went up the other end and pulled further away from the Lilywhites through points from Clifford and Ronan Murphy, the latter bagging his third from play in an impressive midfield display.
It looked like the game was well and truly over as it ticked towards stoppage time, but Kildare mounted one final charge in search of a revival. Eoghan Lawless landed a couple of points from frees before substitute John Jennings was foot-blocked when shooting on goal, with referee Liam Devaney awarding a penalty to the Lilywhites. Lawless stepped up to find the net and give Kildare a lifeline, and though they poured forward in desperate search of a late equalising goal, it was actually Kerry who managed to find the net late on through Cillian Fitzgerald as they secured their progress to another All-Ireland final.
Scorers for Kildare: B Noone (3f) and D Campbell(4f) each, E Lawless 1-2(1-0pen, 2f), M Nolan 0-2, B Travers and D Malone 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: P Clifford 1-3(1f), R Murphy, T Hickey(2f) and N Ó’Sé(2f) 0-3 each, P O’Sullivan, D Daly, P O’Connor and K Murphy 0-1 each.
Declan Campbell; Kevin Corrigan, Mark Grace, Tom Dore; Graham Waters, Eoghan McMonagle, Nathan Sherry; Liam Power, Brian Travers; David Malone, Mark Nolan, Eoghan Lawless; Conor Murray, Mark Sherry, Barry Noone.
Subs used: Declan Flaherty for Sherry 38mins, Tom Barron for McMonagle 43mins, Stephen O’Leary for Murray 43mins, Shane Maughan for Noone 48mins, Cormac Divilly for Dore 54mins, John Jennings for Nolan 58mins.
Dara Ó’Sé; Trevor Wallace, Dan Donoghue, Paul O’Sullivan; Conor Ó’Sé, Denis Daly, Pádraig O’Connor; Kieran Murphy, Ronan Murphy; Evan Cronin, Paudie Clifford, Ronan Buckey; Thomas Hickey, Lee Donoghue, Niall Ó’Sé.
Subs used: Cillian Fitzgerald for Buckley 38mins, Chris Farley for Donoghue 41mins, Gary O’Leary for Cronin 54mins, Sean T Dillon for Wallace 57mins, Darren Brosnan for O’Sullivan 60mins.
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