The elusive five in a row of All-Ireland minor football titles beckons for Peter Keane and his charges after a pulsating semi-final at Croke Park on Sunday last, where Kerry just edged out Monaghan 1-16 to 2-11.
Kerry have won the minor titles for the past four years and the U-18 age group has been changed to U-17 this year. Kerry are odds on to lift the crown. Their opponents in the decider will be Galway, who defeated Meath 3-13 to 2-9 in the other semi.
Kerry led by 9 points at one stage but even with such a lead Peter Keane admitted that he expected a fight back from Monaghan. “We were in a similar situation against Cork down in Tralee when they came at us,” he said. They edged out Cork by a single point on that occasion.
“Funnily enough, even at 9 points, I didn’t feel comfortable,” he continued. “You might say to me, ‘but God how could you not be comfortable?’ There was a skid on the ball and there was a bit of rain there.”
Kerry were leading by seven points at the three-quarter stage and going well when the game was turned on its head. Kerry were reduced to 14 men when Conor Flannery picked up a yellow card and a black card resulting in a red card. Monaghan made full use of the extra man and scored 2-5 in the subsequent period. Dan Murphy had a great chance of a goal but he pulled his shot wide.
Fair dues to Kerry they battled back to score after Swinburne pointed to put Monaghan ahead. Jack Kennelly and Paul Walsh came to the rescue with match-winning points in injury time.
Kerry brought on Ruairí ó Beaglaioch in the 63rd minute and he won a great ball which Walsh converted. Ruairí was black carded shortly after that.
Kerry’s outstanding forward was Dylan Geaney, brother of Conor who played such a pivotal role in the 2015 final. Dylan scored five points, three of these from play.
Monaghan boss Séamus McEneaney was very disappointed, especially when they went ahead in injury time, but he was magnanimous in defeat. “We coughed up one or two balls at crucial times in that last four or five-minute period and Kerry will always punish you,” he said.
Peter Keane is building up a successful managerial portfolio which will stand him in good stead when the Kerry senior manager job will be filled.
Killarney scratch cup
John Murphy from Cork was a runaway winner in the Killarney Scratch Cup. It was his first such title and he did it in style. The +4 handicapper shared the lead with a 68 on Mahony’s Point. He really turned on the style on the Killeen Course where he shot a remarkable 66 giving him a 15-stroke win. His handicap now goes out to plus 5.
No joy for the Kerry senior ladies footballers. They were well beaten by Dublin 3-19 to 1-7 in the TG4 All-Ireland quarter-final in Roscommon.
Kerry SHC semi-finals
Two nail-biting finishes in the Kerry senior hurling championship semi-finals in Tralee. Kerry star Shane Conway shot 1-14 for Lixnaw in their 1-17 win over Causeway while Ballyduff lost their crown to Kilmoyley in a tense 20 points to 19 tie.