Foley torments Derry as Kerry ease into final
All-Ireland MFC semi-final: Kerry1-11 Derry 1-6
Defending champions Kerry drew on a tradition of craft and skill at Croke Park to reach another final.
Corner-forwards Michael Foley and Conor Geaney tormented the Derry defence, firing a combined total of 1-8 as the Kingdom lads led for the majority of the game, bar a brief spell early in the second half when a freak goal brought the Ulster champions level.
Jack O'Connor's side possessed all the key figures in a rain-sodden clash that provided no shortage of quality despite the conditions.
Brian O Seanachain played a key role in snuffing out the threat of Derry danger man Conor Glass, while Daniel O'Brien and Jason Foley were defensive rocks.
Kerry's fluid movement off the ball gave Derry few opportunities to force turnovers during a dominant opening half.
That they managed just six points in that period was a credit to the discipline of the Oak Leaf defence, which stuck to the task rigidly despite coming under sustained pressure.
Using a combination of hand-passing and accurate kicked deliveries to the front men, the Kingdom created an abundance of opportunities, but apart from a productive opening five minutes, lacked that clinical edge in front of goal.
Geaney, Michael Foley and two survivors from last year's triumph, Andrew Barry and John Mark Foley, were on target early on, and Derry, with Francis Kearney and Shane McGuigan isolated in a two-man inside line, mustered just one point in a frustrating opening 20 minutes.
Kearney added to McGuigan's opening score, but with O Seanachain tracking AFL-bound Glass effectively, the Ulster champions' attack failed to catch fire.
And with goalkeeper Callum Mullan-Young forced to go long with his kick-outs, Kerry won the battle for broken ball around the middle.
Derry midfielder Patrick Kearney did take a couple of high catches, and Shea Downey grew into the game as a deep-lying centre-forward, but they could do little to crack a defence in which O'Brien and Gavin White were particularly effective.
Foley and Geaney both added to their tallies, and the Munster and All-Ireland champions went in at the break with a 0-6 to 0-3 lead.
Derry went level with a fortuitous goal three minutes after the restart, corner-back Conor Maunsell sending in a long punt that deceived keeper Billy Courtney and went straight to the net. But Kerry responded with a 1-3 volley, including Michael Foley's 38th-minute goal, punched home at the far post from Geaney's cross, after Sean O'Shea and Barry had made the running.
Foley and Geaney added scores, and while Derry pulled back a point through substitute Niall McAtamney, they suffered a blow when key attacker McGuigan picked up a black card with 14 minutes to play.
Gaps started to open up in the Derry defence as they pushed for the vital scores that would rescue their challenge, but by this stage, Kerry were content to defend a five-point lead.
Glass claimed his only score of the day from a free, but deadly duo Geaney and Foley applied the coup de grace with delightful late scores as the champions marched on to the decider.
Scorers - Kerry: M Foley 1-3, C Geaney 0-5 (3f), JM Foley 0-2, A Barry 0-1. Derry: C Maunsell 1-0, S McGuigan (1f), F Kearney 0-2 each, C Glass (f), N McCartney 0-1 each.
Kerry - B Courtney, D Brosnan, J Foley, J Morgan, G White, M Breen, D O'Brien, A Barry, JM Foley, B O Seanachain, S O'Shea, B Barrett, M Foley, B Sweeney, C Geaney. Subs: T O'Sullivan for Brosnan (38), M O'Connor for Breen (38), S O'Sullivan for Barrett (45), E Cronin for O'Shea.
Derry - C Mullan-Young, N Keenan, C McGrogan, C Maunsell, O Duffin, M McEvoy, E Concannon, P Kearney, J Doherty, P Coney, S Downey, C Glass, T Flanagan, F Kearney, S McGuigan.
Subs: N McAtamney for P Kearney (h-t), F Higgins for Maunsell, B Grant for Coney (40), S Higgins for McGuigan (BC, 47).
Ref: J Henry (Mayo)