In a repeat of the clash in the All Ireland quarter final match last year Kerry gained a measure of compensation this afternoon as they defeated Down 1-13 to 1-11 in a well-judged and professional win in Killarney. The victory was not enough for Kerry to make the league final as Cork and Dublin both advanced to the final in Croke Park.
For many people this was the game of the day and it didn’t disappoint as both team showed why they are such a force to be reckoned with. Boosted by the return of the enigmatic Paul Galvin and Declan O’Sullivan Kerry seemed like their old selves and flew out of the traps.
In a sun drenched Killarney it was the home side that started the brightest with both Kieran Donaghy and Colm Cooper helping Kerry into an early lead. Both teams fronted up in what was a physical opening half.
The Kingdom, who were looking for their fifth league win of the campaign, looked the more livelier of the two teams as Down struggled to cope with the Kerry’s early onslaught. It was to their credit that they only went into the break three points down.
The big moment in the match when Kerry scored the first goal of the afternoon just after the break. Some good play from substitute Bryan Sheehan, who shrugged off the attention of the Down defenders, allowed Darren O’Sullivan to slot the ball home and give Kerry a healthy lead.
Down showed what they were made of, and led by James Colgan and Benny Coulter, who was at the heart of the majority of good play from Down, they began to take the fight to Kerry and the crept back into the game.
However Kerry looked comfortable and always looked they could pull away from Down if they needed to. The Kerry forward line in particular will be happy with their days work as they caused a lot of problems for the Down defence.
Even a late Benny Coulter goal was not enough to help down regain the lead and Kerry ran out deserved winners by2 points. Despite the result both teams can be happy with their display in Killarney.
Both teams took the game to one another. It was just Kerry were that little bit cutier and this allowed them to get home in front. Both teams can now look forward to the championship and can justifiably believe that they can go a long way this summer.