Three goal Kingdom storm the garden
A FINE display in awful conditions saw Kerry march on.
The visitors were streets ahead of their Garden County rivals, especially in the case of half-forward John Buckley and Jack Goulding, who was listed as 19 on the programme and who started instead of Jamie Barrett.
Buckley harvested seven points from this game, but he also worked tirelessly and showed real leadership. He was without doubt the man of the match. Goulding had the ball in the Wicklow net after 11 seconds of this game and he was a thorn in their side throughout as he proved to be an incredibly important cog in the Kerry wheel as they set about rolling over a desperately poor Wicklow.
Not long after Kilkenny's Sean Cleere had thrown in the ball for the start of this game the heavens opened in Arklow and a thundering downpour was unleashed on all in Pearse Park. It's very unlikely that the dreadful conditions had any say in the final score other than the possibility that it may have hampered the Kingdom from scoring more.
Goulding's goal was the perfect start though and Wicklow goalkeeper Cormac Gerathy will be wondering how the speculative shot right from the throw in that bounced right in front of him managed to get past him and into the back of the net.
Wicklow recovered and centre-half forward Padraig Doyle fired over a super score after 45 seconds, but Kerry came again. Billy Lyons linked up with Mike Lynch and his long ball found Buckley who drew the foul from Wicklow full-back Stephen Cruise and the tanned Buckley split the posts from 21 yards out.
Fionan O'Sullivan added another with three minutes on the clock and already it was obvious that Kerry were that much sharper in all aspects of the play. Wicklow were struggling to get the ball onto the hurl, their striking was poor, the forwards were second to the ball to the hungrier Kerry backs, and then the rains came to add more woe to the affair.
A well-struck '65 from Buckey increased the Kerry lead and this directly after his free had tailed badly but had went out off a Wicklow defender. He added another free moments later to leave Kerry 1-4 to 0-1 to the good.
But the Kingdom were prone to mistakes as well and goalkeeper Stephen Murphy offered a weak ball to his colleague that was gathered by Wicklow's best player on the day, Enda Donoghue, and he fired over.
Donoghue and Buckley exchanged scores and then Billy Lyons gave the Kerry following something else to cheer about with a fine score thanks to the hard work of Aaron Murphy who emerged from a ruck of players to provide the final pass.
Donoghue kept Wicklow alive with another free before Buckley had the last word of the first half with a fine free of his own to leave the score at 1-8 to 0-4.
With the rain thankfully abated, Kerry pushed on with considerable ease in the second half. Buckley kept the scoreboard ticking over with a fine free. Donoghue retorted with two frees, one from way out the field, and Wicklow, in bad need of a forward who could win ball and perhaps grab a goal, switched full-forward Tiernan Mellon with centre-half forward Padraig Doyle.
But Michael Leane, named at centre-half back, but who performed mightily at the edge of the square, was in an unmerciful mood and he quashed the majority of Wicklow attacks with the help of Stevie O'Sullivan and Adrian O'Mahony.
Although, the large puddle that had formed in the goalmouth in the opening half did come to Stephen Murphy's rescue early in the second half when an effort by Wicklow's Andrew Kavanagh fell short and caught Murphy unawares and bounced in the puddle and stopped dead in it's tracks. Had it been a dry day it was in the net but Murphy scooped it up like he would a crouton from a bowl of soup and he cleared well.
The absolute death knell for the Wicklow challenge came after 20 minutes of the second half. Aaron Murphy showed lovely footwork to position himself for a shot and he rattled it past Gerathy.
And then the final horror for the home side – a crossed ball from substitute Jordan Conway attracted both Gerathy and his corner-back Christy Moorehouse and together they somehow managed to help it over the line to add insult to terrible injury.
This was a fine showing from Kerry who adapted to the conditions better and who were vastly superior to Wicklow in every aspect.
Kerry: Stephen Murphy, Adrian O'Mahony, Stevie O'Sullivan, Jack Goulding (1-0), Billy Lyons (0-1), Michael Leane, Mike Lynch; Daniel O'Carroll, Robert Collins, Aaron Murphy (1-0), Darragh Shanahan, John Buckley (0-7, 5f, 1 '65), Tom McElligott, Fionan O'Sullivan (0-1), Fionan Mackessy. Subs: Jordon Brick (1-0) for McElligott , Jordan Conway for D Shanahan, Jack Lenihan for D O'Carroll, Dara Ryan for J Goulding, Chris Doncel for F O'Sullivan
Wicklow: Cormac Gerathy, Christy Moorehouse, Stephen Cruise, Aaron Kinsella; Conal McCrea; Peter Conroy, Martin Gilbert, Andrew Kavanagh, Eoin McCormack, Cian Doyle (0-1 '65), Padraig Doyle (0-1), Enda Donoghue (0-4, 3f), Seanie Germaine, Tiernan Mellon (0-1), Bill Moorehouse. Subs: Sean Maloney for C McCrea, Paul O'Brien for S Germaine, George O'Brien for B Moorehouse
Referee: Sean Cleere (Kilkenny)