Kerry far too strong for Rossies as Royal appointment is secured
IS there another game in the world that so ruthlessly exploits differences in ability as hurling does?
On Saturday afternoon the Kerry minors hammered a disappointing Roscommon side by twenty three points. The scale of the defeat was comparable only to the ones they themselves suffered at the hands of the Munster blue-bloods earlier in the season.
This Kerry team weren't yet ready to go toe-to-toe with those top sides and this Roscommon side was just not ready to go toe-to-toe with this Kerry side. It's results like this that make it easy to feel sympathy for fixture makers and panels of good hurling people tasked with putting adequate structures in place to cater for counties' differing abilities and aspirations.
Kerry aren't in the same league as Clare and Cork. Wicklow and Roscommon aren't in the same league as Kerry. Trying to find that sweet spot of competition for teams is just that much harder in hurling.
You would have left McDonagh Park on Saturday afternoon wondering whether this was of much benefit to either side. Roscommon surely left demoralised and disenchanted by the experience and, while the young Kerry players were clearly chuffed to bits (and rightly so, they were magnificent), you can't but think they deserved a sterner test.
At no stage in the contest did they appear remotely under pressure. From the time they went three clear after just seven minutes it was clear Roscommon had no answer to what Ian Brick's men had.
That early lead – and the massive 1-11 to 0-1 lead they held at half-time – was down to much more than the stiff breeze at their backs. They had much superior levels of skill, greater pace and tenacity.
"Roscommon were much more physical," Brick explained.
"We had to deal with that early on too and they did and they gave as good as they got the Kerry lads, because they've been training since last November. Once we upped the pace of it, we've loads of pace up front, we're delighted to be there [in the final] now."
Kerry had stars all over the pitch, more so in the forwards than the backs for the simple reason that Kerry were nearly always on the front foot in this game. Nevertheless Darragh Shanahan impressed at centre-back, while Michael Lynch showed a deft touch getting up the pitch and planting the ball between the sticks for Kerry's third score of the game.
Jack Goulding and Robert Collins dominated around the middle. Brandon Barrett excelled at centre-forward, banging in the Kingdom's first half goal with a brilliantly executed run, turn and shimmy before sticking it in the back of Kelvin Kelly's goal. Everything really did go according to play for Kerry.
"It did, pretty much," Brick agreed.
"We did actually start poorly. We were a bit worried, ten minutes we were only three points in front. We played well and had plenty of the possession, but just couldn't convert it. You know what we say to them is have patience on the ball and they worked it around, once Brandon got the goal it settled them.
"To score the same in the second half against the breeze as we did in the first was super."
The contribution of players off the bench, keen no doubt to put themselves in the shop window for a place in the All Ireland final (against Meath) starting fifteen, was hugely telling in that regard. Jordan Brick scored four fine points from play. Jordan Conway and Jason Diggins also got on the scoreboard.
"You can just even feel it there in the warm-down there's a bit of a buzz about it," Brick said.
"Everybody is excited and they all feel now that if they can show up in training they've a chance of starting the final now the next day. It's good to have competition for places. We've three weeks. We've the minor championship next weekend, the senior championship the weekend after, we're under pressure, but look we'll find a few nights.
"Hopefully the clubs will be able to co-operate and they have been excellent so it's great to get into the final anyway."
Kerry: Shane Murphy (Causeway), Adrian O'Mahony (Crotta O'Neills), Michael Leane (Ballyheigue), Jamie Barrett (Causeway), Billy Lyons (Causeway), Darragh Shanahan (Lixnaw), Michael Lynch (0-1) (Causeway), Jack Goulding (0-2, 1 sideline cut) (Ballyduff), Robert Collins (Kilmoyley), Aaron Murphy (Dr Crokes), Brandon Barrett (1-5, 1f) (Causeway), John Buckley (0-4, 3f) (Lixnaw), Joe Diggins (0-1) (Causeway), Fionán O'Sullivan (0-3) (Kenmare), Fionán Mackessy (1-0) (St Brendans) Subs: Jordan Brick (0-4) (Kilmoyley) for F O'Sullivan, Jordan Conway (0-1) (Crotta O'Neills) for J Buckley, Daniel O'Carroll (Ballyduff) for J Goulding, Jason Diggins (0-1) (Causeway) for J Diggins, Chris Doncel (Dr Crokes for A Murphy)
Roscommon: Kelvin Kelly, MIchael Kellehan, Michael Beirne, Jack Gunning, Tomás Clayton, Jason Martin (0-1f), Ben Fallon (0-1), Gearóid Keenan, James Walker, Daniel Glynn (0-2), Dylan Keaveney, Noel Gatley, John Brennan (0-1), James Fitzmaurice, Cathal O'Mahony Subs: Raymond Farrell for C O'Mahony, Sean Dunne for J Brennan, Brian Lawlor for J Fitzmaurice, Eoghan Costello for J Martin, Thomas Tracey for D Keaveney
Referee: John O'Brien (Tipperary)