Kerry make it five on the trot with strong finish against Monaghan
Kerry 0-17 Monaghan 0-13
Kerry's 100 per cent Allianz FL Div 1 league record was maintained at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, with a fifth straight win achieved in much the same fashion as their previous four.
A strong finish saw the home side score five of the last six points to virtually guarantee a place in the final at the end of the month.
Only a series of unlikely results could prevent them from making it now.
It took them a long time to get going against a Monaghan side desperate for league points after failing to build on their opening weekend win over Dublin.
But with Tommy Walsh providing such an aerial threat - he scored from three of the four marks he took - Tomas O Se making another big impact off the bench and Sean O'Shea landing some important scores Kerry claimed a win they might have let slip 12 months ago.
Kerry had failed to win any of their last three games against Monaghan and had lost their last two league games on home soil to their Ulster visitors.
The decision to delay the throw-in by 10 minutes was justified as the pitch, which had a decent coating of snow on it as the players came out to warm up, cleared.
Ironically the corresponding game in Iniskeen 12 months ago was postponed by a week because of snow when most Kerry supporters were already in the north-east.
Monaghan had the edge in the first half, benefitting from a wind advantage and the peerless accuracy of Conor McManus who landed six points, four from frees (two for which he was fouled himself), a mark and his opening score from play. Stephen O'Hanlon was a handful for Brian O Beaglaoich early on, scoring a point and winning a free for McManus.
Kerry led once in the half, 0-2 to 0-1 after four minutes when Walsh was fouled after winning a throw-in for Sean O'Shea to convert and Walsh had the deepest influence for the home side up to the break, taking a successful mark and a point off his left from play.
Monaghan led by 0-9 to 0-7 at the break and held the initiative until those last 12 minutes.
But with Paul Murphy and Tom O'Sullivan so dominant across the half-back line and Stephen O'Brien foraging deep, Kerry wrestled control and points from O'Brien, Moynihan, O'Sullivan and a free and another trademark sideline from O'Shea they maintained impressive momentum.
Monaghan's Darren Hughes was sent off for a second yellow card near the end.
Scorers - Monaghan: C McManus 0-7 (5fs, 1m), S O'Hanlon, C McCarthy G Doogan, C Walshe, G Doogan, D Hughes all 0-1 each.
Kerry: S O'Shea 0-8 (6fs, 1 sl) T Walsh 0-4 (3m), S O'Brien, T O'Sullivan 0-2 each, D Moynihan 0-1
Kerry: S Ryan; B O Beaglaoich, P Crowley, J Sherwood; G Crowley, P Murphy, T O'Sullivan; J Barry, M Griffin; D Moynihan, S O'Shea, G O'Brien; K McCarthy, T Walsh, S O'Brien. Subs: M Geaney for McCarthy (h-t), S Enright for Griffin (52), G O'Sullivan for O Beaglaoich (55), T O Se for Sherwood inj (59), J Foley for Crowley (70)
Monaghan: R Beggan; C Walshe, D Wylie, R Wylie; K O'Connell, V Corey, C Lennon; D Hughes, G Doogan; D Ward, D Malone, R McAnespie; C McCarthy, C McManus, S O'Hanlon. Subs: D Mone for Lennon (44), O Duffy for Ward (60), J McCarron for O'Hanlon (63), B McGinn for Malone (69)
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)