Wednesday 21 March 2018

Sheehan and Keane show Fitzmaurice their intent

Kerry 0-17 IT Tralee 0-8

Kerry’s Stephen O'Brien is challenged by Pádraig Óg O Sé of IT Tralee during their McGrath Cup clash Brendan Moran/ SPORTSFILE
Kerry’s Stephen O'Brien is challenged by Pádraig Óg O Sé of IT Tralee during their McGrath Cup clash Brendan Moran/ SPORTSFILE

McGrath Cup

Kerry advanced to meet Cork IT next Sunday after Bryan Sheehan's dead-ball skills proved crucial in this entertaining quarter-final at the new John Mitchels complex in Ballyseedy.

It was a contest that Eamonn Fitzmaurice used to take a look at some younger players and more established stars coming back from injury.

Sheehan proved that he has few equals as a free-taker as he drilled over 0-6 from placed balls, and two in particular, when he employed the banana kick in the gales, were memorable and warmed up the crowd.

Fitzmaurice said he was pleased with the work-out as his preparations for the year ahead continue.

"It was the first game of the year and we were not happy with the first half, because it took us a while to get going and we were sloppy at stages," he said.


"We made a lot of strange decisions, but once we resumed in the second half and after taking about five minutes to get going, we played well for a 15-or 20-minute spell, and that was good to see, because we were playing into tough conditions at that stage.

"The lads began to click and get a bit of chemistry going. The big thing for us was to get a run-out today and we have a game next Sunday. It is good to have games because we upped the training this week and we will be upping it again because it is our pre-season, we are trying to get ready for February 1."

Kerry led 0-9 to 0-4 at half-time with Cork's Rory Deane, John Egan, Kieran Mulvihill and Barry O'Hare catching the eye for IT Tralee, but they were never going to win this game.

Kerry, superbly led by skipper Donnchadh Walsh, who opened the scoring, had Alan Fitzgerald, a Kerry minor and U-21, kicking three points though marked by Padraig Og ó Sé, son of the late Páidí.

Stephen O'Brien was also impressing for Kerry and then in the 23rd minute, he entered the history books, when he was deemed to have body-checked an opponent and got Kerry's first black card.

One man's misfortune was another man's gain as Barry John Keane, who was cut from the panel last year just before the championship, really impressed when coming on, kicking four points from play.

IT Tralee had a chance of making a game of it on the resumption when Egan kicked an early point but then three wides followed but once Sheehan nailed a long-range point, followed by five unanswered points from Brian McGuire, Keane, Fitzgerald, Walsh and Sheehan again, Kerry had moved ten clear and it was game over, with Walsh really catching the eye.

Fitzmaurice was happy with all the new recruits and was also pleased to see Keane back.

"They all did well on a pitch that was in remarkable shape considering the rain," he said.

"Barry John Keane was with us this time last year but just did not make the cut for the championship.

"He played a lot of good football during the summer abroad and with Strand Road when he came home. He is a fella that has been around the block, on the panel for a couple of years, so now that he returns after being away from the panel probably makes him want to prove a point, and he did very well"

On the black card, though slightly confused, the Kerry boss is a fan. "Look, we are all going to have to be patient. I was annoyed enough with the black card, because Stephen O'Brien was going well, and we were anxious to see him over 70 minutes," Fitzmaurice said.

"The referee said it was a deliberate body-check, but it looked to me as if the ball was in the area and he made contact with his opponent slightly late but it was a genuine enough effort at a tackle. So I thought it was harsh. I am a fan of the black card, and there was only one other incident in the game, when Jonathan Lyne was pulled down in front of goal and that surely was more of a black card.

"It will help us down the line but I think it will take the referees time to get the hang of it. Certainly I thought the deliberate pull-down was what it was brought in for, so Giles O'Grady probably dodged the bullet on that one"

Scorers -- Kerry: B Sheehan 0-6 (6fs), B J Keane 0-4, A Fitzgerald 0-3, D Walsh 0-2, B McGuire, S O'Brien 0-1 each. IT Tralee: R Deane 0-3 (2fs), B O Hare (2fs), K Mulvihill (1f) 0-2 each, J Egan 0-1.

Kerry -- B Kelly; P Murphy, M Griffin, S Enright; M Geaney, J Sherwood, B McGuire; A Maher, D Moran; J Lyne, B Sheehan, D Walsh; S O'Callaghan, A Fitzgerald, S O'Brien. Subs: B J Keane for S O'Brien (23, BC), E Walsh for A Maher ( 54), M Reen for S O'Callaghan (54), B Kelliher for M Geaney ( 62), B O'Mahony for P Murphy (65).

IT Tralee -- N O'Sullivan; J Horgan, P Og O Se, S Dillon; D McElligott, E Hickson, S McCarthy; R Deane ( Cork), D Somers; D O'Shea, J Egan, D Wallace; K Mulvihill, P Nash ( Limerick), B O'Hare ( Louth). Subs: G O'Grady for S McCarthy (h-t), M Finnegan for D Wallace (h-t), D Larkin (Wexford) for S Dillon (h-t).

Ref -- J Bermingham (Cork)

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport