Kerry cruise to the fin­ish de­spite Ó Sé dis­missal

Kerry Laois 0-20 1-13

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - National Hurling League Gaelic Games -

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).

Pho­to­graph: James Crombi/inpho

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.

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