NFL Round-up: Red mist falls in Tralee as Kerry lower Donegal colours, Mayo edge past Monaghan
Published 06/03/2016 | 16:30
It might have been Mother's Day but there was no sign of motherly love breaking out between Kerry and Donegal in Tralee.
Such was the bad tempered nature of the exchanges that one would be forgiven for assuming that the two teams had sat up all night to watch Conor McGregor's defeat in Las Vegas and then decided to copy some of the action they witnessed.
Kerry boss Eamon Fitzmaurice won't worry too much about the crazy elements of the contest as his side ended Donegal's one percent record in the competition.
A goal from wing back Peter Crowley in the third quarter proved the decisive score as the Kingdom boosted their chances of making the semi-finals.
Despite the best efforts of the country's most experienced refereee Eddie Kinsella the two sets of players seem determined to behave badly.
Even though the two teams clashed in the 2014 All-Ireland final there was no history of animosity between the counties but all that changed in the newly opened Austin Stack Park.
The first serious flash point occurred after only six minutes when Michael Murphy wouldn't release the ball after Kerry were awarded a free. Kieran Donaghy wrestled the Donegal captain to the ground to kick start a melee involving more than half a dozen players.
Meanwhile, a more serious incident was developing in front of the Donegal goal when Kerry full forward Alan Fitzgerald reacted to Neil McGee's illegal holding of his hand by punching the Donegal man in the face and leaving him with a bloody nose.
On being alerted by his umpires Kinsella red carded Fitzgerald while McGee was forced to retire for treatment – he was replaced by his brother Eamon – and didn't reappear until the start of the second half.
Leo McLoone and Murphy picked up yellow cards before, in the space of ninety seconds, Shane Enright was black carded for pulling down Murphy and his colleague wing forward Denis Daly also saw black after another separate incident.
Later in the half there was yet another bust-up near the sideline which resulted in Donegal's Leo McLoone receiving his marching orders meaning both teams were down to 14 men.
Colm Cooper was introduced and playing with the aid of a gale force breeze Kerry carved out a 0-7 to 0-3 advantage thanks primarily to the excellent free-taking of Bryan Sheehan. In fact there were only three scores from play in the half with Donnchadh Walsh hitting two of them.
It only took Donegal seven minutes to draw level as Kerry found it virtually impossible to get their kick-outs beyond their own 45m line. However, when they finally lifted the siege they did so with devastating effect in the 45th minute.
Sheehan brilliantly found an unmarked Donaghy with a kicked free and he linked up with the in-rushing Peter Crowley who powered through and drove the ball to the net. Sheehan added a free four minutes later to give the home side a four point cushion.
Even from a distance it was obvious that there was a lot of sledging going on with Donegal's Rory Kavanagh being particularly vocal. Maybe he was discussing the McGregor fight with his rivals!
Kerry had stretched their lead to six points when Michael Murphy scored a peach of a goal for the visitors in the 55th minute to set up grand stand finish. Donegal got the margin down to two before another wonderful free from the immaculate Sheehan restored their three point lead.
They comfortably held out for a five points win (1-13 to 1-8) with Cooper getting on the score sheet with the last kick of the game. The underlying message from the Kingdom was 'don't write us off yet.'
Even though they had to concede home advantage and play their Division 1 game in Pearse Park Roscommon footballers made in three wins on the spin when they outclassed Down. A goal from Ciaran Murtagh wrapped up a comfortable nine point win for the Connacht side.
They are now virtually assured of their place in the top flight next season while Down face relegation. They are now the only team with no points in the top flight as Mayo finally got their campaign off the ground when they secured a somewhat surprise win in Clones over Monaghan who have now lost two on the spin.
A second half goal from Diarmuid O'Connor put Mayo's in the driving seat but Monaghan showed admirable commitment to fight back and frees from Rory Beggan and Ciaran McManus levelled the tie. The visitors eventually prevailed with a free from goalkeeper Rob Hennelly sealing their first league win over new boss Stephen Rochford.
Galway lost ground in their bid for promotion from Division 2 when they were held to a draw by Meath who bounced back after two woeful performances against Fermanagh and Cavan respectively.
Fermanagh, meanwhile, boosted their chances of staying in Division 2 when they hammered Laois in Enniskillen. The defeat looks likely to condemn Laois to Division 3 football next season.
Division 3 leaders Kildare survived a huge scare in Newbridge but stayed on course for promotion by beating Limerick by a single point.
Munster finals Tipperary and Clare are battling in out for the other promotion spot. Both boosted their chances yesterday as the Premier County scored a crucial win over Offaly while Clare hammered Westmeath who are now in danger of being relegated again.
Antrim maintained their drive for promotion from Division 4 when they accounted for London in Ruislip – but only by three points.
But Louth surprisingly lost ground in their promotion bid when they lost by a point to Leitrim who despite conceding two goal against the visitors held out to record their first win in the current campaign.
Allianz FL Division 1
Roscommon 1-12; Down 0-6
Kerry 1-13; Donegal 1-8
Mayo 2-11; Monaghan 1-12
Allianz FL Division 2
Fermanagh 1-17 Laois 0-10
Galway 0-15; Meath 1-12
Allianz FL Division 3
Tipperary 2-11; Offaly 0-12
Kildare 1-11; Limerick 1-10
Clare 0-7; Westmeath 0-0
Longford 1-17; Sligo 2-9
Allianz FL Division 4
Antrim 1-11; London 0-11
Leitrim 0-16; Louth 2-9
Carlow 0-17; Wicklow 0-14