Goals in either half from Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan paved the way for a convincing 2-10 to 1-05 Kerry victory over a disappointing Kildare in this evening's Bank of Ireland All-Ireland qualifier at Semple Stadium. Cooper gave The Kingdom a perfect start with the opening goal of the game with just three minutes gone, when Darragh Ó'Sé and Liam Hassett combined in a flowing move to find the teenager unmarked, and the forward sidefooted the ball nonchalantly past Kildare 'keeper Enda Murphy.
Kerry, anxious to atone for their disappointing Munster semi-final defeat to Cork, quickly set about their game plan and despite some early scores from The Lilywhites, they quickly gained control of the game and converted their possession into tangible results on the scoreboard. With 14 minutes gone Kerry were leading by just two points following a John Doyle effort which reduced the deficit to 1-02 to 0-03, but Mick O'Dwyer's men failed to score again until just before the break in a one-sided first period.
Dara O'Cinneide, Cooper and Sean O'Sullivan added further points for Kerry, but Dermot Early gave Kildare a lifeline just before the break with a wonderful goal. Paddy Murray sent a long sideline ball into the middle and Martin Lynch was first to it. The midfielder used all his strength to fend off Seamus Moynihan and he teed the ball up perfectly for perennial talisman Earley to hammer home to reduce the deficit to just four points at the interval, 1-07 to 1-03.
Kildare almost snatched a goal on the restart but Tadgh Fennin hit the post, although Doyle kept his nerve to score a point from the rebound to bring The Lilywhites to within three points of The Kingdom. John Sheahan restored Kerry's four point advantage after 44 minutes when he strode up from his left half-back berth to point, and Brosnan delivered the sucker punch two minutes later when he scored Kerry's second goal. The half-forward collected the ball at pace from O'Cinneide 40 yards out and surged through the Kildare defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot to the roof of the net to as good as end Kildare hopes of a revival.
Kildare substitute Padraig Hurley scored the point of the match ten minutes later when he sold Eamon Fitzmaurice a clever dummy and raced goalwards before pointing on the run. O'Cinneide responded with another Kerry point on 58 minutes, and substitute Johnny Crowley gave Kerry an eight point advantage after 67 to give the beaten All-Ireland finalists a deserved double-score winning margin and put them into tomorrow night's quarter-final draw.
In the evening's other qualifier, Mayo recorded a handsome 0-20 to 1-14 win over Tipperary at Ennis.
Meanwhile, Kerry are through to the All-Ireland Junior football championship final following this afternoon's 1-11 to 0-07 win over Mayo at Claughaun.
More to follow
Filed by Shane Murray