NFL Div1: Kerry 1-12 Roscommon 0-12
This was all about the result rather then the performance for Jack O’Connor and his Kerry team in this meeting with Roscommon at the Austin Stack Park, but it was far from vintage fare.
Kerry more or less made sure of their Division 1 status for 2024 in Tralee with their third home victory of the campaign against a dogged Roscommon, who were not perturbed by a massive start by the home side that put the hosts six points to the good early on.
The visitors made Kerry sweat for a period in the second half as Conor Cox scored 0-6 in a competent display.
The hosts were impressive inside the opening nine minutes, going ahead by 1-3 to 0-0. It was arguably the best football they have produced so far in what has been an otherwise disappointing start to 2023 for the defending league and All-Ireland champions.
Their goal in the fourth minute saw Tony Brosnan find David Clifford with an incisive pass and the Footballer of the Year obliged in finishing strong to the net for a 1-1 to 0-0 advantage.
Donal Down O’Sullivan continued his promising form for the Kingdom in the first half as Listowel native Cox got Roscommon on the scoreboard in the 12th minute with a free.
The visitors managed to slow the tempo of the game down in the second quarter and drew a bit closer to Kerry on the scoreboard, but Ciaráin Murtagh registered their only point from play in the first period after 27 minutes.
David Clifford scored as the game entered first-half injury-time as Kerry enjoyed a first-half double score lead of 1-7 to 0-5 at the break. The wind wasn’t as strong a factor in favour of the Kingdom as the first half wore on but five of their six starting forwards scored in the first period with Paudie Clifford denied by the post.
The return of Gavin White was a positive for Kerry in the first period also as he made his first competitive start since last year’s All-Ireland final.
Paudie Clifford did get his name on the scoresheet for Kerry’s first score in the second period after 47 minutes as they had to weather a strong start to the second period for the Rossies.
The visitors came within two points of Kerry as Graham O’Sullivan was black carded in the 45th minute. Kerry got through this period well though in staying ahead on the scoreboard. Tom O’Sullivan put Kerry 1-9 to 0-9 to the good after 53 minutes as Killian Spillane scored a point off the bench for the Kingdom in the closing stages.
Paul Geaney was another Kerry player to see his first action of the year in a hard earned three-point win as referee Derek O’Mahony turned away a Roscommon appeal for a penalty in the last action of the game.
Kerry travel away to Galway next Sunday in a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final as Roscommon finish against Donegal and may need a result themselves depending on other results in Division 1.
Scorers – Kerry: D Clifford 1-2 (1f), T Brosnan, D O’Sullivan, S O’Shea (1f, 1’45’) 0-2 each, D Moynihan, P Clifford, T O’Sullivan, K Spillane 0-1 each. Roscommon: C Cox 0-6, (4f, 1m), D Murtagh, D Smith (2f) 0-2 each, C Murtagh and D Cregg 0-1 each.
Kerry: S Ryan 7 ; G O’Sullivan 7 , J Foley 8 , T O’Sullivan 7 ; P Murphy 7 , T Morley 7 , G White 8 ; J Barry 7 , D O’Sullivan 7 ; D Moynihan 7 , S O’Shea 6 , P Clifford 7 ; T Brosnan 7 , D Clifford 7 , D O’Sullivan 6 Subs: D O’Connor 7 for B O’Sullivan (51), K Spillane 7 for D O’Sullivan (54), R Murphy7 for D Moynihan, P Warren 6 for G White (both 64), P Geaney 6 for T Brosnan (67)
Roscommon: C Carroll 7 ; C Hussey 7 , B Stack 7 , D Murray 7 ; N Daly 7 , E McCormack 6 , R Dolan 6 ; T O’Rourke 7 , D Ruane7 ; C Murtagh 6 , C Lennon 6 ; E Smith 7 ; D Cregg 6 , D Murtagh 7 , C Cox 7. Subs: K Doyle 7 for R Dolan (25), R Hughes 6 for C Lennon, B O’Carroll 6 for D Murtagh (both 47), D Smith 6 for C Murtagh (60) and C McKeon 6 for D Ruane (64)
Referee: D O’Mahony (Tipperary)