Wednesday 21 March 2018

Nolan leads way as Kerry take title for second time

Kerry 1-20 Derry 0-12: Christy Ring Cup final

Kerry’s Shane Nolan scores the game’s only goal against Derry during Saturday’s Christy Ring Cup final at Croke Park
Kerry’s Shane Nolan scores the game’s only goal against Derry during Saturday’s Christy Ring Cup final at Croke Park
Kerry players celebrate with the Christy Ring Cup
Kerry's Padraig Boyle in action against Conor Quinn of Derry

The Kingdom were under pressure to deliver at Croke Park, having lost the previous two finals, and they made no mistake with a systematic, if unspectacular, dismantling of Derry's nervous challenge.

Shane Nolan led the way with a 1-8 haul as Eamonn Kelly's men lifted their second Ring title with plenty to spare.

The Ulster men, appearing in their first decider, never threatened to make sufficient inroads into a well-organised and heavily-fortified Kerry defence, and lacked potency and penetration up front.

They depended on dead-ball specialists Ruairi Convery and Paddy Henry to keep them in touch.

And that was never going to be enough to stick with a Kerry side that raided incisively on the breakaway and picked off scores with style and efficiency.

Convery's third free had the sides level after 12 minutes, but a Kingdom flourish produced scores from John Egan, Colum Harty and Michael O'Leary.

Mikey Boyle was a useful ball-winner in the inside line, while Egan drifted deep to get up and down the field with energy and vision.

Wing-back Daniel Collins swept over a point to make it 0-9 to 0-4 after 26 minutes, and with Paud Costelloe and Darren Dineen solid and defiant at the back, Kelly's side was looking comfortable.

Nolan spun away from his marker to flash home a superb goal on the half-hour, but the Oak Leafers responded with converted frees from Henry and skipper Convery.

Harty's second sent the Munster men in with a 1-10 to 0-8 advantage at the break, and their defensive strategy suffocated Derry's limited attacking options in the second half.

The Ulster men scored just once from play after the restart, through substitute Jonathan O'Dwyer, while Henry converted three frees.


At the other end, Kerry also struggled for scores, and missed two goal chances when Boyle broke clear on the right, but sent his angled shot zipping wide at the far post.

Padraig Boyle had another decent effort blocked by Conor Quinn.

Michael Warnock's timely intercept averted another dangerous situation, but while Derry's defence was holding its own, they offered little in an attacking sense.

Wing-back Keith Carmody completed a three-point tally, and in the final 15 minutes, Kerry outscored their opponents by six points to one.

Rangy midfielder Patrick Kelly swept over a couple of long-range efforts, and Nolan's accuracy from placed balls did the rest as Derry limped out, reduced to 14 men by Kevin Hinphey's second booking.

Scorers - Kerry: S Nolan 1-8 (7f), K Carmody, M O'Leary 0-3 each, P Kelly, C Harty 0-2 each, D Collins, J Egan 0-1 each.

Derry: R Convery 0-5 (5f), P Henry 0-4 (4f), L Hinphey, J O'Dwyer, A Grant 0-1 each.

Kerry - S Murphy; R Horgan, P Costelloe, B Murphy; D Collins, D Dineen; K Carmody, J Griffin, P Kelly; M O'Leary, S Nolan, C Harty; M Boyle, P Boyle, J Egan. Subs: J O'Neill for P Boyle (43), D Butler for O'Leary (50), S Weir for M Boyle (57), J Flaherty for Harty (62), D Fitzell for Dineen (68).

Derry - D McDermott; M Warnock, C Quinn, S McCullagh; L Hinphey, C McSorley, K Hinphey; S McGuigan, B Quigley; P McCloskey, P Cleary, P Henry; A Kelly, R Convery, A Grant. Subs: N Ferris for McCloskey (5), D Flanagan for Quigley (31), J O'Dwyer for Cleary (39), R McCloskey for McSorley (57), M Conway for Grant

Ref - J Keane (Galway)

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