Kerry cruise to the finish despite Ó Sé dismissal
Kerry Laois 0-20 1-13
because unlike their dismal showing against Donegal, they made a good stab at this game for a full hour.
Andy Moran proved a thorn for the Cork defence, Keith Higgins managed to combine sticky defensive work with several searing runs downfield, Donal Vaughan impressed at centre-back while Michael Conroy, back in the green and red starting team for the first time since 2007, clipped two good points to gild a whole-hearted effort. The introduction of Conor Mortimer also yielded two fine points. They were in a commanding position and they allowed it to dissolve.
“They are disappointing defeats,” James Horan admitted.
“We will train hard on Tuesday night and get at it. It might be hard to pick up the Mayo people. It is surprising how quick we go from a high to a low and players aren’t living in a cocoon. What we need to do is to make sure we improve playing football. I’m not quite sure where all the doom and gloom is coming from.”
He has a point: results can distort the greater truth. Had Mayo squeezed a win, there would be greater emphasis on Cork’s torpor.
For the Cork travelling support, it seemed as if the highlight of the day would be the fine weather in the west of Ireland. It was mystifying to see a team that built a reputation for explosiveness and potency in its All-ireland crowning year of 2010 struggle so badly for 50 minutes. They registered just three points in the first half, the pick of those a snappy shot from Patrick Kelly. But that decisiveness was rare, the shoots of Cork’s A game were seldom in evidence.
Their cause was not helped by the loss of Collins for throwing a stray elbow in the direction of Donal Vaughan. The issue of a straight card in the 35th minute further diminished the options.
“All I can say is that it would be completely out of character for Mark. He has never been sent off in his life,” Counihan said.
The Cork man seemed almost embarrassed by this win and was sparing in his praise of his squad.
But the introduction of Paul Kerrigan, whose two splendid points from play included the score that drew the game level in the 70th minute, had a big bearing. The Nemo man added speed and wit to their attack. Aidan Walsh looked a bit of a lost soul playing deep in the first half and his presence around the square worried Mayo.
In the last quarter, big Pearse O’neill and Alan O’connor owned the middle and Cork looked wolfish as the relieved Mayo of possession with too much ease. As Horan lamented, the home team made a few bad passes at critical times and were made pay the price as Cork showed shades of the old poise in timing their late burst to perfection. The win keeps their league interests alive while Mayo’s proud run in Division One which stretches back to the late 1990’s is now in jeopardy. Dublin return to Mchale Park but it remains to be seen if the fog has cleared. CORK: A Quirke; R Carey, M Shields, E Cotte; S Kiely (0-1), N O’leary, A Walsh (0-1), P Kissane; P O’neill, A O’connor; F Goold, M Collins, P Kelly (0-2); C O’neill (0-1, free), D O’connor (0-6, two frees, one 45). Subs: P Kerrigan (0-2) for C O’neill (half-time), B O’driscoll (0-1) for F Goold (58 mins). MAYO: D Clarke; S Mchale, G Cafferkey, K Higgins; L Keegan, D Vaughan (0-1), C Boyle; S O’shea, B Moran; K Mcloughlin (0-1), C O’connor, A Dillon (0-2); A Freeman (0-1), A Moran (0-2), M Conroy (0-2). Subs: P Gardiner for K Keegan (28 mins), C Mortimer (0-3, one free) for C O’connor (30 mins), D Geraghty for S O’shea (43 mins), J Doherty (0-1) for M Conroy (50 mins), A Campbell for C Boyle (65 mins). Referee: J Mcquillan (Cavan). KERRY SECURED top spot in Division One despite having to play Laois with 14 men for over an hour of this entertaining contest played before 4,485 fans bathed in the splendid sunshine at the Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Kerry lost Tomás Ó Sé for the third time in 10 months, when he received a straight red card after just 10 minutes, for an off-the-ball incident that will probably see the five-times All-ireland medal winner sit out Kerry’s two games, at home to Mayo and the NFL semi-final, but it could see him miss Kerry’s opening championship game, if he were to get a longer suspension.
Afterwards, Kerry manager Jack O’connor said: “I didn’t see it. I was looking away. I can’t comment on it.
“It’s always disappointing to lose people. But I can’t comment on the incident because I didn’t see it.”
However, Kerry coped admirably with the loss of Ó Sé and despite a spirited second-half fightback by the relegation-haunted Laois, who actually regained the lead (1-11 to 0-13) with 20 minutes to go.
However O’connor emptied his bench and the introduction of the experienced Marc Ó Sé, Anthony Maher, Kieran Donaghy and Paul Galvin changed the game back in Kerry’s favour and with Bryan Sheehan’s accuracy from frees, and a point from man-of-match Patrick Curtin, the Kingdom eased to their fifth victory of the campaign.
O’connor was pleased with the Kerry win which sees them on top with 10 points and having beaten the only teams that can catch them, even if they lose to Mayo in their final game, they cannot be toppled, on the basis of the head to heads of those sides that could reach 10 points.
“It’s another game for us and another game to try out a few things, so we are happy enough with that. It’s a tough pitch to play for 60 minutes minus a man and it was a warm day as well so that knocked a lot out of us. It was another test of us. It was good to kick 20 points in those circumstances,” he said.
Kerry led 0-11 to 0-7 at the interval with all six Kerry forwards scoring from play and Curtin catching the eye, kicking three points from play.
Kerry were winning decent ball at midfield where Sheehan put in another top-class display, though Laois were well served in this area with Brendan Quigley and John O’loughlin putting in a big shift.
Justin Mcnulty’s side won lots of possession but they squandered a succession of good scoring opportunities, amassing nine first-half wides and five more after the break.
Laois’s first-half points came from Gary Walsh, Ross Munnelly, Colm Begley, James Kavanagh, and the extra man, Kevin Meaney, also found the target.
Declan O’sullivan and David O’connor swapped early secondhalf points as Sheahan restored Kerry’s four-point advantage after an exceptional point from play in the 45th minute.
However Laois were battling for survival and points from Munnelly (free) and Walsh were followed by a well-worked goal from Begley and suddenly the game was in the melting pot, with Laois hitting the front 1-11 to 0-13.
This spurred Kerry into action, with Galvin and Donaghy now on the pitch and the home side tacked on five unanswered points, with Sheehan kicking three frees and Laois, with Begley off injured, were never going to close the gap and it was plain sailing for the Kingdom, who cruised to a fourpoint win, and that after playing with only 14 men for over an hour. KERRY: T Mac an tsaoir; S Enright, A O’mahony (0-1), K Young; T Ó Sé, E Brosnan, J Lyne; S Scanlon, B Sheehan (0-6, five frees); BJ Keane (0-1), Darran O’sullivan (0-2), J Buckley (0-1); K O’leary (0-1), Declan O’sullivan (0-3, one free), P Curtin (0-4). Subs: M Ó Sé for S Enright (half-time), A Maher (0-1) for S Scanlon (43 mins), P Galvin for BJ Keane (45 mins), K Donaghy for J Buckley (45 mins), J O’donoghue for K O’leary (62 mins). LAOIS: E Culliton; C Healy, K Lillis, P O’leary (0-1); K Meaney (0-1), M Timmons, C Boyle; B Quigley (0-1), J O’loughlin (0-2); C Begley (1-1), B Sheehan, D Strong (0-1); D O’connor (0-1), G Walsh (0-2), R Munnelly (0-3, one free). Subs: P Cahillane for C Boyle (52 mins), P Clancy for B Sheehan (55 mins), J Kavanagh for C Begley (58 mins). Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo).
Mayo’s Michael Conroy, back in the starting team for the first time since 2007, attempts to get away from Cork’s Aidan Walsh and Ray Carey during yesterday’s National Football League Division One match at Mchale Park, Co Mayo.