Wee problems exposed in quarter-final

All Ireland MFC Quarter-final: Kerry 1-22 Louth 2-9

Kerry players Dylan Casey, left, and Ciarán O'Reilly celebrate following the Electric Ireland All-Ireland GAA Football Minor Championship Quarter-Final match between Kerry and Louth at O'Moore Park. Photo by Sam Barnes / Sportsfile
Kerry players Dylan Casey, left, and Ciarán O'Reilly celebrate following the Electric Ireland All-Ireland GAA Football Minor Championship Quarter-Final match between Kerry and Louth at O'Moore Park. Photo by Sam Barnes / Sportsfile

Jason O'Connor

In one way the Kerry minors were arguably damned if did and damned if they didn't in Portlaoise last Saturday in facing Louth

Win convincingly and have extra praise and more expectation to deal with in advance of returning to Croke Park.

If they had just scraped by meanwhile then massive questions would be raised about their worth.

Their 10 point win last Saturday fell somewhere between both stools as although they never looked like losing, they were opened up on a number of occasions by Louth that will give some cause for concern about their defending.

The Kingdom looked comfortable early on, granted some of their passing wasn't coming off as intended but there was much to admire about the thought in looking for the incisive passes to open up the Louth defence.

Donnachadh O'Sullivan finished off a great counter-attack in the eighth minute for their goal and a 1-3 to 0-0 lead. A rout might have been expected from there but credit to Louth for not letting an awful start affect them as they trailed by 1-7 to 0-1 after the opening quarter.

Brian Friel looked a lot more effective in the centre-forward role on Saturday, but the way Louth managed to get through the Kerry defence for their first goal suggested some of the Kerry defence were already thinking about the half-time break.

John Gallagher and Ciaran Keenan combined from a free with the latter getting far too much time to turn and shoot past Deividas Uosis for a scoreline of 1-11 to 1-5 at half-time.

Kerry did start the second-half well with David Clifford curling over a fine effort as part of his nine point total. However, even though Conor Morgan was black carded for Louth, the Leinster side went through the Kerry defence with too much ease again in the 39th minute.

Morgan's replacement Conor Nicholson was put through and he managed to find the onrushing Eoghan Callaghan who made the scoreline look a little more interesting at 1-14 to 2-6.

While Kerry were never in danger of losing, it was important that they showed a bit of conviction in responding to such as a set back and in Fiachra Clifford they had a workhorse who managed to put over two points before the finish.

Michael Slattery made the use of his opportunity from the bench in slotting over a score as well with Kerry's midfield of Barry Mahony and Diarmuid O'Connor pretty steady throughout last Saturday's contest.

Chris O'Donoghue and Niall Donohoe were the pick of a Kerry defence that left itself with some areas for improvement ahead of the All-Ireland semi-final with Cavan, not least in trying to stop sides running through them like Louth did at times in Portlaoise.

While Gallagher and Keenan were the only real threat in the Louth ranks, Kerry will be concerned about what a more potent forward line might do with some of the gaps that were exploited.

There are times that you can become a victim of your success in terms of the expectations about how Kerry minor sides should perform with each and every success of their now 22 match winning streak stretching back to 2014.

Saturday might be no bad thing in reminding some of the players that they still have a bit to go in their hopes of replicating the recent Tommy Markham Cup winning sides.

The Under 17s All-Ireland semi-final with Roscommon is the more short-term concern however for the younger contingent in the panel. Some will want to make a point in Ennis not just for that side's ambitions, but also with a starting place for the Semi-Final side in mind.

Much like the seniors you could argue that the quarter-final level is also more about the result than the performance but there are a few things to ponder ahead of the minors' trip to Croke Park on Sunday week.

Kerry: Deividas Uosis (Dingle); Sean O'Leary (Kilcummin), Chris O'Donoghue (Glenflesk), Cian Gammell (Killarney Legion); Michael Potts (Dr Crokes), Eddie Horan (Scartaglin), Niall Donohoe (Firies, 0-1); Barry Mahony (St Senans), Diarmuid O'Connor (Na Gaeil); Adam Donoghue (Castleisland Desmonds), David Clifford (Fossa, 0-9, 3f), Donal O'Sullivan (Kilgarvan, 0-3, 1f); Fiachra Clifford (Laune Rangers, 0-2), Donnachadh O'Sullivan (Firies, 1-1) Brian Friel (Rathmore, 0-5, 1f) Subs: Dylan Casey (Austin Stacks) for O'Leary, Patrick Warren (Gneeveguilla) for Donoghue, Ryan O'Neill (Na Gaeil) for Horan, Michael Slattery (Austin Stacks, 0-1) for Donal O'Sullivan, Ciaran O'Reilly (do) for Donnachadh O'Sullivan and Michael O'Leary (Renard) for Potts

Louth: Alan McGauley; Alan Connor, Dean McGreehan, Dan Corcoran; Leonard Grey, Nicky Browne, James O'Reilly; Liam Jackson, Conor Morgan; Gerry Garland, Conor Gillespie, Eoghan Callaghan (1-0); Ben Mooney, Ciaran Keenan (1-3, 2f), John Gallagher (0-6, 4f) Subs: Conor Nicholson for Morgan (Black Card), Fergal Malone for Gillespie, Jack Murphy for Browne, Shane Hickey for Garland and Keelan O'Neill for Mooney

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

The Game in 60 seconds

Main Man

Hard to fault David Clifford again in slotting over nine points last Saturday but a special mention must go to the Kerry midfield for their efforts last Saturday with Barry Mahony holding fort well and displaying some strong fielding throughout.

Key Moment

Was always obvious that Kerry were going to win but maybe the difference between the sides was illustrated in the way Niall Donohoe came forward for a point in the second-half and was able to take it with ease as opposed to Louth offering no scoring threat outside their forward line.

Talking Point

With each and every game Kerry win at minor level, 22-0 since 2014, expectation grows about more and more success. This year is a bit more difficult to manage with the U-17 event running concurrently with the grade but the Minors are back in Croke Park with a good degree of previous experience of playing there amongst the squad.

Kerryman

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