Tuesday 23 January 2018

Geaney shows his quality as Kingdom coast home in Celtic Park

Kerry 1-17 Derry 0-13

Gerard O'Kane, Derry, in action against Bryan Sheehan, Kerry
Gerard O'Kane, Derry, in action against Bryan Sheehan, Kerry
Paul Geaney, Kerry, in action against Niall Holly, Derry
Bryan Sheehan, Kerry, kicking a free
Bryan Sheehan, Kerry, in action against Gerard O'Kane, Derry
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

While one Kerry forward took a few baby steps on the way back to greatness, Paul Geaney delivered a timely reminder of his capabilities with a superb 1-5 from play to help the All-Ireland champions pick up their first league points of the season.

In what was their first ever appearance in Celtic Park, Kerry looked comfortable winners even before Derry captain Mark Lynch received a straight red card with 20 minutes remaining.

Tommy Walsh, understandably, struggled with his ball skills in what was his first start for the Kingdom since the 2009 All-Ireland final.

Geaney, however, was on fire and Derry tried three different markers on him with little success.

He hit 1-4 of his total in the second half, stroking over two points with his left foot and two with his right and capped it off with a 61st-minute goal which clinched a first ever league win for Eamonn Fitzmaurice during the month of February.

Having lost his first four league games in charge in 2013, followed by the opening three games last year, he only had to wait until week two this year to get the All-Ireland champions up and running.

"It is good from the point of view we've Dublin coming in three weeks' time," said the Kerry manager.

"If we were beaten today, you'd just be digging a small bit, whereas after winning today everyone is in good form going down the road.

"There was a big difference from last weekend. Mayo were a good bit down the line and that game stood to us. We played UCC in a challenge on Tuesday and you could see we've had a good week's work done."

Understandably, Walsh, who started at wing-forward and was moved to full-forward before being taken off early in the second half, was off the pace and Fitzmaurice urged patience all round as the former AFL player familiarises himself with the round ball again.

"I'm saying it all along, everyone is going to have to be patient - us, the Kerry public and Tommy himself.

"It will come and it will work out but we have to take it one step at a time.

"I think the forward unit in general played a good bit better today and we were more potent up front, which you have to be if you're going to win games."

Kerry settled quickly with two points in the opening minute and never looked back.

The sides were level on two occasions in the first quarter, before Kerry kicked five of the seven points before half-time to lead by 0-10 to 0-7 at the interval.

Even though a straight red card for Derry captain Mark Lynch, seemingly for a high elbow challenge, looked a harsh call, the visitors were already leading by four points and coasted home.

Bryan Sheehan's stunning accuracy from placed balls contributed 0-7 of their total while the good news kept coming for Kerry with Killian Young, Donnchadh Walsh and Anthony Maher all coming off the bench for their first appearances of the year.

Derry lacked penetration in their full-forward line and relied on long-range scores in the first half from Daniel Heavron. Ciaran McFaul and half-backs Gerard O'Kane and Kevin Johnston to keep them in touch.

Eoin Bradley was introduced for the start of the second half to add a physical presence up front and he converted four frees, but every time Derry got close on the scoreboard, Kerry pulled away again.

Initially Derry rallied after Lynch's dismissal, scoring the next two points, but Kerry outscored them by 1-4 to 0-2 in the closing 14 minutes with Geaney's goal sealing it.

Derry full-back Niall Holly's ball across the square was intercepted by Stephen O'Brien and it was eventually recycled to Geaney, who curled the ball low beyond the goalkeeper for a cool finish after 61 minutes to complete a good day's work for the All-Ireland champions.

With a trip to Tyrone looming after the two-week break, Derry already look in serious relegation trouble following back-to-back defeats to Donegal and Kerry.

"There is probably never a good time to get Kerry, despite what people say, and they were in full flow today," conceded Derry boss Brian McIver.

"With Mark missing, unless we can overturn it on appeal, going to Tyrone will be difficult."

Man of the Match: Paul Geaney

Scorers - Derry: E Bradley 0-4 (4f), M Lynch 0-2 (2f), C McFaul 0-2 (1f), D Heavron 0-2, G O'Kane 0-1, K Johnston 0-1, B Heron 0-1 (f). Kerry: P Geaney 1-5, B Sheehan 0-7 (5f, 1 '45'), BJ Keane 0-2 (1f), S O'Brien 0-2, J Sherwood 0-1.

Derry - T Mallon 6; O Duffy 8, N Holly 6, J O'Kane 7; K Johnston 7, G O'Kane 7, SL McGoldrick 6 ; M Lynch 7 , C McAtamney 6; C McFaul 7, B Heron 6 , E Lynn 6; M Craig 6, T O'Brien 6, D Heavron 7. Subs: E Bradley 7 for O'Brien (h-t), D Brown 6 for J O'Kane (42), E McGuckin 6 for Craig (44), N McNicholl 6 for McAtamney (53), C Murphy 6 for McFaul (BC, 68), J Kearney 6 for Lynn (70).

Kerry - B Kealy 7; P Kilkenny 7, M Griffin 7, F Fitzgerald 7; J Lyne 7 , J Sherwood 7, P Murphy 7; D Moran 8, J Buckley 8; M Geaney 6, B Sheehan 9, T Walsh 6; S O'Brien 7, P Geaney 9, BJ Keane 7. Subs: A Maher 6 for Walsh (42), K Young 6 for Kilkenny (58), D Walsh 6 for M Geaney (59), K O'Leary 6 for Keane (64), P O'Connor 6 for Fitzgerald (BC, 64).

Ref - J McQuillan (Cavan)

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