Contrasting fortunes for Kerry and Monaghan after this entertaining match at a snow-speckled Fitzgerald Stadium with the result putting a League final firmly in the Kingdom's grasp.

Monaghan stay in the relegation zone alongside Cavan, with just two rounds for the Ulster neighbours to save themselves.

In what's becoming a characteristic of this Kerry team under Peter Keane, it was another late surge that got them over the winning line, coming with a charge in the final ten minutes to wrestle the lead from a Monaghan team desperate for League points.

This game was in marked contrast to the memorable Super 8s thriller they played out in hot sunshine in Clones last July, with bitter cold and snow showers greeting the teams in Killarney, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm or need of either here, with plenty on offer for both sides.

This will be a tough defeat for Monaghan to take given that they led all the way until the 65th minute when Stephen O'Brien's point put Kerry in front for the first time, and late scores from Dara Moynihan, Tom O'Sullivan and two from Sean O'Shea closed out the deal.

The first half saw the teams engineer 16 scores, which was a credit to both teams as they were greeted with a near white pitch after heavy snow fell throughout the Allianz Hurling League curtain-raiser between Kerry and Meath.

Monaghan were two to the good, 0-09 to 0-07, at the interval, with Conor McManus to the fore with six points for the visitors, with four converted frees, a pointed mark and the other from play. Gavin Doogan, Stephen O'Hanlon and Conor McCarthy chipped in with the other scores.

Kerry's first half total also came from four outlets, with O'Shea converting two frees and one from play, Tommy Walsh scoring from play and a mark with O'Brien and O'Sullivan also finding the target.

The football wasn't of the highest quality in that opening period, but under the circumstances both teams were positive and direct; Kerry looking to find Walsh inside and see who could feed off him, while Monaghan sought to bring McManus into the game as much as possible, with Dermot Malone and Dessie Ward looking to feed off him.

Twice in that first half the teams were level, at two points each and seven apiece, but Monaghan led at every stage otherwise after McManus pointed them into a second minute lead.

Kerry players inspect the pitch ahead of throw-in

Early second half points from O'Shea (free) and Walsh - who converted three offensive marks - had the teams level again, and it was near score for score for the next 20 minutes until Kerry finally wrestled the lead from the visitors through O'Brien.

Darren Hughes was sent off for Monaghan in the 67th minute, which left them stretched and allowed a Kerry team growing in confidence find the gaps to engineer those late scores to secure the win.

It's four defeats on the trot now for Malachy O'Rourke's men after their opening round win over Dublin, and as it stands themselves and Cavan are looking at dropping out of the top flight with just two rounds to play.

No such worries for Kerry, as barring some calamity against Mayo and Roscommon - and an unlikely confluence of results and maths - they're looking at a League final in Croke Park at the end of the month.

Kerry: Shane Ryan; Peter Crowley, Jack Sherwood, Brian Ó Beaglaíoch; Gavin Crowley, Paul Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan 0-02; Jack Barry, Mark Griffin; Dara Moynihan 0-01, Sean O’Shea 0-08 (0-06f, 0-01 s/l), Gavin O’Brien; Kevin McCarthy, Tommy Walsh 0-04, Stephen O’Brien 0-02.

Subs: Michael Geaney for K McCarthy (ht), Shane Enright for M Griffin (52), Graham O’Sullivan for B Ó Beagaloich (55), Tomás Ó Sé for J Sherwood (59), Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue) for G Crowley (71)

Monaghan: Rory Beggan; Colin Walshe 0-01, Drew Wylie, Ryan Wylie; Colm Lennon, Vincent Corey, Karl O’Connell; Darren Hughes 0-01, Gavin Doogan 0-01; Ryan McAnespie, Conor McCarthy 0-01, Stephen O’Hanlon 0-01; Dermot Malone, Conor McManus 0-08 (0-06f), Dessie Ward.

Subs: Dessie Mone for C Lennon (44), Owen Duffy for D Ward (61), Jack McCarron for S O'Hanlon (63), Barry McGinn for D Malone (70)

Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)