Nolan rescues 13-man Kerry
A point from a controversial free three minutes into added time by Shane Nolan gave Kerry victory over a battling Down at Pairc Esler.
However, indiscipline almost cost the Kingdom. They finished the game with 13 players, threw away an eight-point lead and had to rely on that last-second point to snatch a place in the Christy Ring final.
With 13 minutes left, their goal-scorer Gary O'Brien received a second yellow card. Five minutes later, full-back Tom Murnane got a straight red for a dangerous tackle on Eoin Clarke and will miss the final against Wicklow.
Down opened brilliantly with a goal after four minutes by Benny Ennis, who also pointed, as did Gareth Johnson with two frees.
Kerry settled and by midway through the half Michael Boyle had levelled proceedings. Kerry then scored a goal and seven points without reply, with O'Brien netting, and the visitors went in at half-time 1-12 to 1-6 ahead.
The Kingdom were in full control, leading by 1-17 to 1-9 entering the final quarter. Then came the dismissals.
Down seized their chance and Scott Nicholson with two points and Paul Braniff with five had the sides level in added time. Extra-time looked certain, but up stepped Nolan to squeeze Kerry through.
Man of the Match: Shane Nolan (Kerry).
scorers -- Kerry: G O'Brien 1-0, D O'Connell 0-7 (7f), M Boyle, S Nolan (1f) 0-4 each, J Egan, M Conway, D Dinneen 0-1 each. Down: B Ennis 1-2, P Braniff 0-7 (5f), G Johnson 0-3 (3f), S Nicholson 0-2, C Woods (1f), A Savage, S Clarke 0-1 each.
Kerry -- B Rockford 8; J Godley 8; T Murnane 8, E Fitzgerald 8; C Harris 7, J Casey 8, A Keane 8; D Dinneen 8, J Griffin 8; D O'Connell 8, M Boyle 8, G O'Brien 7; J Flaherty 7, S Nolan 9, J Egan 8. Subs: M Conway 6 for J Flaherty (25), P Monson 6 for M Conway (54), L Boyle for D O'Connell (69).
Down -- G Clarke 8; M Hughes 7, F Conway 7, S Ennis 8; K McGarry 5, C Woods 7, M Ennis 7; A Savage 8, E Clarke 8; S Clarke 7, G Johnson 7, C O'Prey 6; J Coyle 6, P Braniff 8, B Ennis 8. Subs: C Coulter 7 for K McGarry (29), A Clarke 6 for J Coyle (46), S Nicholson 8 for C O'Prey (54).
Ref -- S Whelan (Wexford).