Kerry forced to dig deep to overcome Roscommon
Kerry were made to dig deep to secure a league win that eases relegation fears back home in the Kingdom and one that leaves Roscommon looking anxiously at the growing prospect of Division Two football next spring, writes Brendan O’Brien.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side led by five points with just over ten minutes of normal time to play on Sunday afternoon against an opponent that had just lost a man to a sending-off but the deficit was reduced to the bare minimum before the visitors pulled away again.
A lack of rainfall, a manageable wind and the new surface laid at the Hyde over the off-season laid the foundations for a decent afternoon’s entertainment and the two sides obliged with a lack of sweepers and a frequent commitment to play the long ball from the keepers.
Kerry played the first period with that wind at their backs and it was probably worth a handful of points on the day. As it was, the visitors led by five at the interval with full-forward Paul Geaney accounting for half of their dozen white flags.
Two of his came from play in tn opening period when Kerry lost Donnchadh Walsh to a black card after 25 minutes due to an apparent body check on the onrushing Enda Smith. It may have been an obstruction borne of earlier events.
Roscommon came within a sniff of goal at least three times in the first-half, all on the back of penetrative runs at the heart of the visiting defence, with Brendan Kealy having to deflect away a Cian Connolly effort as early as the sixth minute.
Yet it was Kerry with the more reliable supply chain and that was down to no-one more than David Moran who made a number of marks in the midfield and generally provided the sort of base on which those around him could launch forward.
He was superb all day.
Up by five at the break. Kerry continued to lean on Moran and Geaney with the latter turning from poacher to supplier for points from Jack Savage and James O’Donoghue and, by the turn into the third quarter, Roscommon had made no inroads into the half-time deficit.
The likelihood of the hosts turning the tables down the home straight lengthened with over a dozen minutes still to play when defender John McManus was shown red for a light slap across James O’Donoghue’s face after the award of a free to the Connacht side.
Instead, Roscommon pushed harder against a Kerry outfit that has made a habit of fading out of games in the last quarter and a goal from a Diarmuid Murtagh penalty with two minutes of normal time to go squeezed the gap to just one point.
The chance was earned thanks to a foul on Enda Smith that may or may not have been inside the area but Paul Geaney struck for an injury-time goal to make certain of the win and ensure that the post-match talk wouldn’t be defined by one refereeing decision.
Scorers for Roscommon: C Murtagh (1-2, 1-0 penalty); D Smith (0-3 frees); D Murtagh (0-3, 2 frees); F Cregg (0-2); C Connolly (0-2); D O’Malley (0-1 free).
Scorers for Kerry: P Geaney (1-6, 0-4 frees): J O’Donoghue (0-4, 2 frees):J Savage (0-3); BJ Keane (0-2); S Enright, P Crowley, D Moran, S O’Brien (all 0-1).
Roscommon: D O’Malley; D Murray, S Mullooly, N McInerney; J McManus, S McDermott, C Devaney; E Smith, T O’Rourke; F Cregg, R Stack, S Killoran; D Smith, C Murtagh, C Connolly.
Subs: C Cafferkey for McDermott (32); D Murtagh for Conolly (HT); N Kilroy for Smith (44); B Murtagh for Cregg (56); P Brogan for Murray (65);
Kerry: B Kealy; S Enright, K Young, R Shanahan; P Crowley, P Murphy, T Morley; D Moran, J Barry; K McCarthy, J Savage, D Walsh; BJ Keane, P Geaney, J O’Donoghue.
Subs: S O’Brien for Walsh (black card, 25); A Maher for Barry (31); M Griffin for Crowley (52); D O’Sullivan for Savage (52); J Lyne for Young (56); M Geaney for Keane (69);
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry).