Kerry blitz condemns Kildare to the drop
Kerry 0-19 Kildare 0-14
Kildare are relegated from Division 1 of the Allianz Football League following their defeat in Tralee last night. Kerry hit their visitors with a seven-point unanswered scoring burst midway through the first half, when playing with the wind. The Lilywhites never looked answering in kind when it was their turn to kick long balls in to Daniel Flynn, their lively full-forward.
It certainly wasn't Flynn's fault that Kildare will be a Division 2 team in 2019. He scored six points from play and was a threat to Kerry all through the game.
This victory means Kerry are almost certainly safe for another year of top-flight football. Manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice would not have wanted these youngsters to experience relegation as he tries to blood them at senior level.
And the likes of David Clifford, Jack Barry and Kevin McCarthy showed in this one that they might, in time, be top-notch seniors. However, full-back Jason Foley had a chastening 70 minutes in Flynn's company. Surprisingly Kerry never put a screening player in front of Flynn, who was Kildare's only real threat.
It was a scrappy, bitty match perhaps reflecting what was at stake as both teams tried to scramble away from the foot of the table. Kildare started brightly, going 0-3 to 0-1 ahead while playing into the wind. But an old failing that has haunted the Lilies over the years, that of wild shooting, came back to haunt them.
As the Kingdom began to assert themselves, with the elements at their back, Kildare missed three chances for points that ought to have been converted. They would prove so costly as Kerry got their shooting boots on and drove clear.
To make things worse for the visitors, star midfielder Kevin Feely turned over an ankle and had to come off. Points from Michael Burns, Kevin McCarthy and David Clifford saw Kerry surge into a seven-point lead that seemed like plenty of insurance for the second half.
But it didn't prove that way as the visitors got going on the resumption and kicked three nice points against the wind.
Jack Barry was the outstanding midfielder on view after Feely's departure but, playing into the wind, for some reason Kerry didn't want to kick the ball out to him. So David Moran was brought off the bench to add a bit of steel to the midfield. Yet Kerry could never quite shake off the dogged visitors who stuck at the task of trying to save their League status. But it was not enough and Clifford kicked a couple of late points to condemn Kildare to defeat and the drop.
For Kerry now, it is a case of playing out their last League game in Omagh next Sunday against Tyrone and then getting ready for the Championship. And then, in early June, we will see the big call from Fitzmaurice for 2018. Does he stick with the youngsters, or bring back the experienced hands for the summer?
Scorers - Kerry: D Clifford 0-6, P Geaney 0-3, K McCarthy, D Casey, BJ Keane 0-2 each, S Murphy, P Murphy, M Burns, D Moran 0-1 each. Kildare: D Flynn 0-6, P Kelly, M O'Grady, K Feely, T Moolick, P Brophy, B McCormack, N Kelly, F Dowling 0-1 each.
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