THERE was a double dose of Dr Crokes class about Kerry’s National League victory this afternoon with a man-of-the-match performance from Tony Brosnan and a golden goal from the swashbuckling Gavin White the stand-out highlights of their 14-points mauling of Donegal in Tralee.
It was a polished performance from Peter Keane’s side and very much a victory fashioned from the back with a mean rearguard choking the life out of their seriously understrength opponents who were short several regulars, including the influential Michael Murphy and Ryan McHugh.
But that doesn’t detract from Kerry’s fine display which resulted in David Clifford being presented with the cup by Munster Council official, Patrick O’Sullivan, for what much surely have been the shortest, strangest and most silent trophy presentation ceremony in the history of the GAA.
This 2-18 to 0-10 victory was every bit as emphatic as the scoreline suggests with Kerry the dominant force throughout and first half goals from Seanie O’Shea and Gavin White – the latter a brilliant effort following a power-packed solo run – almost putting the issue beyond doubt by the interval.
Apart from a much more tenacious and structured marking strategy, Keane’s new approach is obviously based on building from the back and with playmakers of the calibre of White, the excellent Tom O’Sullivan and Paul Murphy to rely on, it’s a tactic that is working a treat.
There is a real work ethic about this Kerry team and, almost as frequently as they are popping up in the scoring zone, the likes of Seanie O’Shea, Dara Moynihan, Micheál Burns and Ronan Buckley at the shoulder of Shane Ryan when his net is being eyed-up.
The early goals were game-changers for Kerry and, in fact, they both came at a time when the home side was down to 14 men with Jason Foley black-carded. O’Shea was delightfully set up for his goal by Tom O’Sullivan, who had been fed by David Clifford, and the second was all about Gavin White who has all the credentials and class required to give the Kingdom the essential X-factor in the championship.
The brace of goals and the opportunism of Tony Brosnan and David Clifford had Kerry 2-9 to 0-8 ahead at half time and, on the resumption, they kept on pulling the trigger whenever an opportunity arose or was created, kicking seven without reply at one key stage.
Brosnan – who booted over six points today – looks to be the perfect partner for Clifford in attack and their lethal finishing ability, creative flair and positional sense will torment any opponents they encounter in the rapidly approaching championship.
Remember too that James O’Donoghue and Paul Geaney have yet to return to the squad and, with the likes of Stephen O’Brien, Paudie Clifford and Tommy Walsh also available, Keane and co will be spoilt for choice.
Today’s victory and the manner in which it was achieved provides a timely injection of confidence ahead of the Munster Championship clash with Cork on November 8 but if Kerry can repeat the work rate, the understanding and the flair that was on show in Austin Stack Park this afternoon, then spare a thought for the Rebels.
By the time Santa comes, the National League trophy might not be the only silverware resting on the Clifford mantelpiece in Fossa.
Kerry scorers: Seanie O’Shea 1-4 (0-2 frees); Tony Brosnan 0-6 (0-1 mark), David Clifford 0-5 (0-1 free), Gavin White 1-0, David Moran 0-1, Tom O’Sullivan 0-1, Dara Moynihan 0-1.
Kerry: Shane Ryan, Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan, Paul Murphy, Peter Crowley, Gavin White, David Moran, Diarmuid O’Connor, Micheál Burns, Seanie O’Shea, Ronan Buckley, Tony Brosnan, David Clifford, Dara Moynihan.
Subs: Stephen O’Brien for Micheál Burns, Jack Barry for David Moran, Gavan Crowley for Gavin White, Tommy Walsh for Dara Moynihan, Brian Ó Beaglaoich for Ronan Buckley.
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