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Relief for Jack O’Connor as Kerry banish ‘frustration’ with Paudie Clifford making instant impact

Division 1 Kerry – 3-16 Monaghan – 0-14


Paudie Clifford scores Kerry's second goal after a solo run through the Monaghan defence. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Paudie Clifford scores Kerry's second goal after a solo run through the Monaghan defence. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Paudie Clifford scores Kerry's second goal after a solo run through the Monaghan defence. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Monaghan were on the receiving end of an 11-point thumping from the All-Ireland champions in Killarney yesterday.

Leading by four at the break (0-10 to 0-6) before an attendance of 10,232 in Fitzgerald Stadium, Kerry turned on the burners in the second half, hitting three goals, including a majestic individual effort from substitute Paudie Clifford.

“We felt we should have got something out of the game (against Donegal) and we didn’t. So it was a long old journey down from Donegal,” said Kerry boss Jack O’Connor.

“We were trying to bottle the frustration as good as we could and try and bring it into the game today, so the lads reacted well – 3-16 is a good score.

“I thought there was a lot more purpose to the way we played today. After 20 minutes above in Donegal, we started to slow down the pace of our play, we went lateral and backwards and sideways, and it doesn’t suit us. We can’t play like that.

“We need to play the game at pace. That was the message all the week, and I thought we did that today.”

By the time Clifford was introduced in the 46th minute, Kerry had the points secure. Thanks to a 39th-minute goal from Darragh Roche, who impressed in his second start at full forward, they were leading 1-12 to 0-10.

Nonetheless, the arrival of Clifford added a new dimension to Kerry’s play. By then Monaghan had little option but to abandon their blanket defence and once they lost possession in the Kerry half, they were vulnerable when the All-Ireland champions broke at speed.

Once Clifford took a pass from Adrian Spillane inside his own 45-metre line on the stand side, the field opened up in front of him and he took full advantage.

Twice he looked set to offload but the spread-eagled Monaghan defence kept retreating; Clifford kept running before calmly slotting the ball past Rory Beggan. His sibling David would have been proud of the effort.

“The Cliffords are great lads,” said O’Connor. “Both of them would have played if we wanted them to. We just felt that today’s game was a critical game and we didn’t know if Paudie was available or not until late in the week, that’s why he didn’t appear in the programme.

“He enjoyed the game; it wasn’t the toughest game in the world to come into. We’ll get plenty of rest into those fellas as time goes on.

“There will be other periods where we will rest them. They love playing football and they love playing here in the stadium, in particular,” said O’Connor, who indicated that Seán O’Shea is likely to play some role in Kerry’s next tie against Mayo in two weeks’ time.

It was a chastening afternoon for Monaghan. Stephen O’Hanlon was outstanding, scoring three points from play and he was denied a goal when Shane Murphy pulled off a magnificent save in the 43rd minute.

Team manager Vinny Corey acknowledged that errors had started to creep into their play as early as the second quarter. He insisted Monaghan have no option but to continue to blood new players.

“When you are trying to blood a team in Division 1, it is a tough place to do it. As soon as you put out a few inexperienced players, gaps are going to appear and if the other team is strong they are going to exploit that,” Corey said.

“Nonetheless, we have to find players and it has to be done and that’s what we are prepared to do. Let’s hope that over the coming few weeks we will integrate other players in.”

Scorers – Kerry: D O’Sullivan 1-3; D Roche 1-2; P Clifford 1-1; T Brosnan 0-4 (4f); T O’Sullivan 0-2; M Burns, D Moynihan, A Spillane, K Spillane (m) 0-1 each. Monaghan: C McCarthy 0-5 (4f); M Brannigan (2f), S O’Hanlon 0-3 each; D Ward, K Gallagher, K Duffy 0-1 each.

Kerry – S Murphy 7; G O’Sullivan 7, J Foley 7, T O’Sullivan 8; P Warren 7, T Morley 8, P Murphy 7; J Barry 8, B O’Sullivan 7; M Burns 8, D Moynihan 7, A Spillane 7; T Brosnan 7, D Roche 8, D O’Sullivan 9. Subs: P Clifford 8 for Moynihan (46), K Spillane 6 for Roche (50), S Okunbor 6 for B O’Sullivan (50), G Horan 6 for Warren (56), R Murphy for A Spillane (59).

Monaghan – R Beggan 7; R O’Toole 6, K Duffy 6, R Wylie 7; C Boyle 7, D Ward 7, K Loughran 6; K Lavelle 6, C Lennon 6; S O’Hanlon 8, M Brannigan 7, J Wilson 6; C McCarthy 7, K Gallagher 6, S Carey 6. Subs: D Treanor 6 for Lennon (h-t); G Mohan 6 for Wilson (56), T McPhillips 5 for Loughran 5 (55), S Jones for Carey (59), S Slevin for Wylie (68).

Ref – C Lane (Cork)

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