Kingdom staring into abyss
KERRY are facing major relegation worries after losing the opening three games in the Allianz Football League for the first time since 2001.
As Eamonn Fitzmaurice and his squad left Newbridge following a two-point defeat by Kildare yesterday, they needed no reminding that a similarly bad start 12 years ago was followed by a drop to Division 2.
Kerry produced a much-improved performance on their first two games but wayward finishing – they kicked 16 wides – undermined them against an efficient Kildare side, for whom Cavan import Seanie Johnston scored 1-3 in a man-of-the-match performance.
And while Fitzmaurice (right) was pleased with the improvement, he acknowledged that Kerry can't afford any more defeats if they are to avoid relegation.
"Six points would probably keep you up, but we're on zero. I think all the teams are going to take points off each other, so it's going to be very competitive. We have to start getting points on the board or else it is going to be a foregone conclusion that we're going down. We don't want to go that direction," he said.
Kerry's next outing on Sunday is against All-Ireland champions Donegal, who are also in relegation trouble after losing for a second time in three games. They had Michael Murphy and Neil Gallagher sent off against Tyrone in a game which produced 13 yellow cards.
A crowd of 9,600 saw Tyrone join Kildare and Dublin on full points from three outings, leaving the trio well placed to clinch semi-final places over the coming weeks.
Kerry and Down are the only pointless sides in the group, following Cork's one-point win over the Mourne men in Newry.
Westmeath, Fermanagh and Limerick lead the other three divisions, while Mick O'Dwyer appears to be applying his magic to Clare in Division 4 as they recorded their second away win, beating pre-season promotion favourites Offaly in Tullamore.