/ GAA

Kerry 2-12 Kildare 0-11

Updated: Saturday, 03 May 2008 21:17

Brian Looney and David Moran celebrate Kerry's seven-point victory over Kldare in Thurles Kerry captain lifts the trophy Kieran O'Leary of Kerry holds off Kildare's Tom Byrne Kildare in Thurles tonight
Brian Looney and David Moran celebrate Kerry's seven-point victory over Kldare in Thurles Kerry captain lifts the trophy Kieran O'Leary of Kerry holds off Kildare's Tom Byrne Kildare in Thurles tonight

Kerry were crowned All-Ireland Under-21 football champions at Thurles tonight, when two Mike O'Donoghue goals inspired them to victory over Kildare.

The Munster champions had to work hard for this result, but they always held the edge in terms of strength, teamwork, speed of thought, and directness of action.

Eoin O Flairheartaigh fired over two early points, as the Lilywhites eased into a 0-3 to 0-1 lead.

But Alan Smith's eighth minute point signalled the beginning of a Kingdom onslaught, and after Tommy Walsh had launched a long-range point, they went in front with an O’Donoghue goal in the 14th minute.

It was wing-back Aidan O'Sullivan who weaved his way through, exchanging passes with team-mates on the way, before his final delivery found O'Donoghue, who gave Niall McConnell no chance with a bullet to the roof of the net from 12 yards.

The Munster champions turned the screw, with Paul O'Connor, Paddy Curran and David Moran all hitting the target with style and precision for a commanding 1-5 to 0-3 lead.

Having gone 17 minutes without scoring, Kildare finally got themselves back into the game in the closing stages of the half, thanks to the promptings of centre-back and captain Gary White.

It was his pass that sent O Flathairteaigh in on goal, and when he really should have tested 'keeper Tomas Mac an tSaoir, he blazed over the bar.

Scores from Mark Waters and Alan Smith from a free, narrowed the gap, and at the break Kerry held a slender 1-5 to 0-6 advantage.

They pressed on after the restart too, for Paul O’Connor (2) and David Moran to stretch the lead to five inside five minutes.

Finally, Kildare discovered the value of a more direct game, and Tom Byrne's long delivery set up a much-needed first score for Gavin Smullen.

But with substitute Kieran Brennan making a useful impact in the Kerry midfield, the Kingdom were still building, and when John Buckley and Kieran O'Leary combined in a neat move, O'Donoghue was in precisely the right place to take and drill home his second goal on 41 minutes.

Kildare kept plugging away, and were rewarded with scores from John Fogarty and O Flaitheartaigh, with his fifth.

And they were denied a goal by Colin O'Mahoney's heroic block on Smullen, who had rounded the 'keeper after being sent through by Alan Smith's perfect through ball.

Kerry: T Mac an tSaoir, C O’Mahoney, M Moloney, S Enright, A O'Sullivan, K Young, G Duffy, D Moran (0-2), A O'Sullivan, K O'Leary (1-1 (1 free), J Buckley (0-1), M O'Donoghue (2-0), P Curran (0-2), T Walsh (0-1), P O'Connor (0-5, 3 frees).

Subs: (24), K Brennan for Duffy (h-t), E Hickson for O'Sullivan (53), B Looney for Buckley (57), E O'Neill for O'Donoghue (59)

Kildare: N McConnell, C Brophy, D Brennan, S Murphy, J Browne, G White, T Byrne, M Waters (0-1), N Higgins, D Whyte, E O Flaitheartaigh (0-5, 1 free), K Kelly, S Fahy, A Smith (0-2, 2 frees), G Smullen (0-1).

Subs: N Clinch for Brophy (24), J Fogarty (0-1) for Kelly (34), J Concoman for Whyte (43), M O'Sullivan (0-1) for Fahey

Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).