DEPENDING on the result away to Cavan on Sunday next, Kerry’s final National Football League game of the season, against old rivals Tyrone in Killarney, could be a crucial affair which could keep their admittedly very slim league title hopes alive.
The Kingdom are currently fourth in the table on five points, chasing unbeaten Dublin as well as Donegal and Tyrone, who are all on seven, and alongside Monaghan, also on five points.
Mayo, next Sunday’s opponents Cavan and pointless Roscommon are not in contention and depending on how results go, the NFL season isn’t over for Kerry just yet.
Proof, as if any was needed, that there is no love lost between Kerry and Dublin was clearly highlighted at a parked Austin Stack Park, Tralee last night as tempers flared throughout a niggly and tempestuous affair with twice as many yellow cards than clear-cut goal chances.
There was still an experimental look about the home side and although they did well to live with the Dubs – and outplayed them for long passages – the hosts paid a price for a lack of scoring power with only Paul Geaney and, to a lesser degree, substitute Barry John Keane, posing any threat in that regard. Add to that the fact that five of Kerry’s 13 points total came from frees – including a converted 45 by goalkeeper Brendan Kealy – and a clearer picture emerges of the need to inject some real firepower to the attack.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be relieved to see the Dr Crokes’ contingent returning, particularly Colm Cooper and Johnny Buckley, who both know where the posts are, while the injured James O’Donoghue also has to return while Bryan Sheehan and Kieran Donaghy will also have a role to play, although to what extent remains unclear.
Whether they will return to face Cavan and Tyrone has yet to be confirmed but one thing is certain, their scoring prowess is badly required.
Dublin, to be fair, were not as potent as normal in front of goals and they too had to rely on placed balls – nine pointed frees from Dean Rock – to snatch a draw but that also raises some questions about indiscipline in the Kerry rearguard on the evening that was in it.
Kerry scorers: Paul Geaney 0-7 (0-4 frees), Peter Crowley 0-1, David Moran 0-1, Brendan Kealy 0-1 (45), Barry John Keane 0-1, Kevin McCarthy 0-1, Donnchadh Walsh 0-1.
Dublin scorers: Dean Rock 0-9 (frees), Conor McHugh 0-2, Eoghan O’Gara 0-1, Paul Mannion 0-1.
Kerry: B Kealy, M Griffin, S Enright, R Shanahan, P Crowley, T Morley, K Young, D Moran, J Barry, A Spillane, P Murphy, D Walsh, J Savage, P Geaney, K McCarthy.
Subs: J Lyne for Enright; S O’Brien for Savage; BJ Keane for Spillane; A Maher for Barry; D O’Sullivan for McCarthy; M Geaney for Young.
Dublin: S Cluxton, D Daly, P McMahon, M Fitzsimons, J Small, D Byrne, E Lowndes, B Fenton, MD Macauley, N Scully, C Kilkenny, SB Carthy, D Rock, P Andrews, C McHugh.
Subs: C O’Sullivan for Byrne; P Flynn for Scully; K McManamon for Macauley; E O’Gara for Andrews; P Mannion for Small; B Brogan for McHugh.
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