O'Connor's Kingdom brought down to earth
Kerry boss Jack O'Connor admitted that the defeat against Mayo was the reality check that the Kingdom might well have needed now, rather than later in the year, as Mayo powered to a deserved victory at the Austin Stack Park in Tralee yesterday afternoon.
Four points from the boot of Conor Mortimer and a stunning goal in the 58th minute from the boot of Tom Parsons made all the difference as Mayo outgunned the Kingdom.
Kerry boss O'Connor was philosophical in the aftermath of his side's third league defeat and knows that at least one more win is required to avoid getting involved in a relegation dog fight.
"We were poor today. We were very lethargic and tired-looking for some reason," he said.
"We knew that Mayo were going to be tough today because you don't go away to Tyrone and Derry and win games like they did, without being going well. I think Mayo carried that form on today."
Mayo boss John O'Mahony, on the other hand, was left elated as his side now sit proudly on top of the table with Dublin and Cork and in pole position to make it to the league final.
"I am delighted with the win and I thought overall that we deserved it," O'Mahony said. "I think we got some very good points in the second half and I think that Tom Parsons's goal made the difference in the end."
Kerry suffered a body blow before throw-in when Kieran Donaghy was not able to start because of tonsillitis and Bryan Sheehan came in to captain the side for the first time.
The opening half was scrappy with both sides turning the ball over with regularity as Mayo kicked six bad wides and it was Enda Varley who kicked all of their first-half points, as Kerry led 0-5 to 0-4 at the interval.
Kerry introduced Donaghy for the second half and he made an immediate impact as he fielded a great ball in the 37th minute before finding Colm Cooper in a goalscoring position, but his rising shot went over the bar.
Kieran O'Leary then gave the Kingdom a 0-7 to 0-5 lead, but once Mayo introduced Mortimer, Kerry were in trouble. Despite another Cooper point in the 45th minute, Mortimer proceeded to kick four points from the 43rd to 52nd minutes as Mayo moved 0-12 to 0-8 clear.
Parsons and Seamus O'Shea were now on top at midfield as Kerry could not get the ball to Donaghy and Cooper, and the game was over as a contest when Parsons netted in 58th minute.
Scorers -- Mayo: C Mortimer, E Varley (0-3f) 0-4 each, T Parsons 1-0, A Dillon 0-2 (0-2f), A Moran (0-1 '45), T Mortimer 0-1 each Kerry: K O'Leary 1-2, C Cooper (0-2f), B Sheehan (0-2f, 0-1 '45) 0-4 each.
Mayo -- D Clarke; L O'Malley, K Conroy, K Higgins; D Vaughan, T Howley, K McLoughlin; T Parsons, S O'Shea; A Moran, M Ronaldson, T Mortimer; E Varley, A O'Shea, A Dillon Subs: C Mortimer for M Ronaldson (42), P Harte for A O'Shea (57), B Kelly for A Dillon (63), M Sweeney for E Varley (67).
Kerry -- G Reidy; P Reidy, T Griffin, T O'Sullivan; M O Se, A O'Mahony, A O'Connell; A Maher, D Moran; D O'Callaghan, Declan O'Sullivan, Darran O'Sullivan; C Cooper, B Sheehan, K O'Leary Subs: M Quirke for D O'Callaghan (30), K Donaghy for Darran O'Sullivan (h-t), S Scanlon for Maher (52), B Guiney for A O'Connell (53), B Looney for D Moran (58).
Ref -- David Coldrick (Meath).