Kerry just an inch away from having a great Kennedy Cup

Kerry’s Kennedy Cup squad that finished 13th overall in this year’s tournament held at the University of Limerick last week
Kerry’s Kennedy Cup squad that finished 13th overall in this year’s tournament held at the University of Limerick last week

Padraig Harnett

Kerry's 2013 Kennedy Cup will go down as another very good tournament but will also be remembered as the one where only an amazing save from the NDSL goalkeeper prevented us from topping the group and going who knows how far? The NDSL went on to reach the final but certainly didn't have a stiffer test than Kerry gave them.

Kerry opened with wins over West Cork 3-1 (Rian O'Sullivan, penalty, Kasper Malinowski, Conor Standen) and Roscommon 3-0 (Eoin McElligott, Conor Standen, Rian O'Sullivan) before that cracker with NDSL.

The NDSL came into the game on 4 points, having surprisingly drawn with West Cork, so they knew they had to win. They went ahead after less than a minute when shot was deflected past Nelu Doherty. But Kerry rallied and levelled matters on 20 minutes when Niall O'Donoghue flicked home a Rian O'Sullivan free kick.

The Dublin side took the lead again in the 55th minute when they were quickest to react to a ball loose in the box. And shortly before that Kerry had lost the influential O'Sullivan but the pummelled the NDSL defence and only for that miracle last minute save would have got the draw they deserved.

A Kasper Malinowski cross was met first by Thando Dube who effort was blocked and Mark Harnett reracted quickest to smash the ball goal-wards and it looked in. The NDSL keeper Oisin McCarthy, who is over 6 feet tall, threw himself legs first across the goal and managed to get something to block the goal.

As often happens on the Wednesday after the great exertions of the previous day teams don't often reach the same heights. Kerry suffered a little of this against Cavan/Monaghan and lost 2-1 to a last minute goal after Niall O'Donoghue had earlier put Kerry ahead.

But credit to this side, excellently prepared by Tony O'Neill and his staff, they picked themselves back up and won their final two games on Thursday defeating Carlow 2-1 (Conor Standen and Kasper Malinowski) and then Waterford 1-0 (Conor Standen from a Darren Loughnane free kick).

So it is 13th place for Kerry, after four wins from six game, with 11 goals scored and only six conceded, and at least second seeding secured for next year. All in all a very good week that, with a bit of luck could have been better.


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