Kerry 0-10 Mayo 2-11
DESPITE the fact that Kerry could have done with him, there was no run for Thomas Hickey from Castleisland Desmonds as the reigning All-Ireland champions were well and truly overpowered by Mayo in a disappointing outcome at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney this Sunday.
The sharpshooting Hickey was left on the bench but there was a brief run for Cordal’s Philip O’Connor who was in place of Kieran O’Leary of Dr Crokes.
Firies clubman Jack Sherwood, meanwhile, had a big day out as he was introduced from the start in place of Shane Enright and he worked tirelessly and tenaciously all afternoon on what was a difficult day at the office for Eamonn Fitzmaurice and co.
The great news is that Tommy Walsh is back in a Kerry shirt and he showed some early indications that his strength in the air will be major asset this season.
He came on at half time and although he had to retire injured again before the final whistle, he did look good and, for spells, is could have been as if he had never been away.
David Moran was Kerry’s man-of-the-match and he was not far ahead of Barry John Keane who was the only Kingdom forward that looked a threat all afternoon.
The attendance was disappointing given that it pitched fierce rivals against each other for the first time since last year’s epic All-Ireland semi-final clash and replay.
David Moran worked well throughout but Bryan Sheehan looks like he could benefit from more games for, at times, Mayo were cleaning Kerry out at midfield for long spells as an inexperienced Kerry attack relied too heavily on Paul Geaney to get under the high ball which was a tactic that just didn’t work.
A nasty injury sustained by Mayo corner forward Evan Regan early on held up the game but his replacement Michael Conroy was brilliant as he kicked four splendid points to give Mayo the edge.
Kerry enjoyed whatever slender advantage there was in the opening quarter with points from Barry John Keane, the alert Kieran O’Leary and Paul Geaney giving them a slender 0-3 to 0-2 lead.
Then disaster struck when Mayo full forward Alan Freeman won possession, beat Mark Griffin and Jack Sherwood, and shot convincingly and accurately to the left of Brendan Kealy.
Another point from Barry John Keane was all Kerry could muster before half time while Mayo continued to dominate and build a 1-7 to 0-4 interval lead.
The introduction of Tommy Walsh at the start of the second half gave Kerry a certain momentum and points from Michael Geaney, Barry John Keane (two) and a long-range effort from the hard-working David Moran had the All-Ireland champions right back in it.
An opportunist 51st minute strike from wing forward Kevin McLoughlan – who left Paul Murphy spluttering in first gear before finishing to the net high over Kealy’s head – was the decisive move of the game and, after that, with the Kerry attack looking devoid of ideas, it really did look as if the size of the Mayo winning margin was the only matter that needed to be settled.
Late Moran and Geaney scorers were merely of cosmetic value as Mayo, who looked remarkably sharp for the opening game of the league, eased to a seven-point victory, 2-11 to 0-10.
Kerry scorers: BJ Keane 0-4; D Moran 0-2; P Geaney 0-2; K O’Leary 0-1; M Geaney 0-1.
Mayo scorers: M Conroy 0-4; J Doherty 0-3; A Freeman 1-0; K McLoughlan 1-0; K Regan 0-1; S O’Shea 0-1; D Vaughan 0-1, A Gallagher 0-1.
Kerry: Brendan Kealy (Kilcummin); Pa Kilkenny (Glenbeigh-Glencar); Mark Griffin (St Michael’s Foilmore); Jack Sherwood (Firies) Jonathan Lyne (Legion); Fionn Fitzgerald (Dr Crokes); Paul Murphy (Rathmore); David Moran (Kerins O’Rahllys); Bryan Sheehan (St Marys); Michael Geaney (Dingle); Kieran O’Leary (Dr Crokes); Johnny Buckley (Dr Crokes); Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare); Paul Geaney (Dingle); Barry John Keane (Kerins O’Rahillys).
Subs: Tommy Walsh (Kerins O’Rahillys) for Sheehan; Philip O’Connor (Cordal) for O’Leary; Jack Maguire (Listowel Emmets) for Lyne (blood); Conor Keane (Legion) for Keane; Lyne for Maguire; Maguire for P Geaney; Daithi Casey (Dr Crokes) for O’Brien; Alan Fitzgerald (Castlegregory) for Walsh.
Mayo: R Hennelly, S Coen, K Keane, K Higgins, L Keegan, C Barrett, P Durcan, S O’Shea, D Vaughan, K McLoughlan, A Gallagher, J Doherty, E Regan, A Freeman, M Ronaldson.
Subs: Conroy for Regan; O’Connor for Gallagher; A O’Shea for Freeman; M Sweeney for Conroy (inj); Boyle for Barrett; Varley for Ronaldson; Moran for S O’Shea.
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).