FL1 semi-final: Kingdom crush Rossies

April 10, 2016

Kerry's Colm Cooper celebrates scoring his side's first goal past Geoffrey Claffey of Roscommon.
©INPHO/Colm O'Neill.

Kerry eased through to the Division One decider with a facile ten-point victory over Roscommon at blustery Croke Park, 3-15 to 0-14.

The result leaves the winners within touching distance of their 20th title and first since 2009, while today was a sobering reality check for the Rossies, who impressed in the round-robin stages of the competition but were completely outclassed and outmuscled on the big occasion.

It was done and dusted at the short whistle after goals from Colm Cooper, Donnchadh Walsh and Man of the Match Darran O'Sullivan fired the southerners to commanding 3-8 to 0-5 half-time lead.

The Kingdom won the toss and opted to play into the Davin End, with the assistance of a very strong wind. It was a decision that worked in their favour as they went on to accumulate an unassailable twelve-point interval advantage.

Rossies goalkeeper Geoffrey Claffey opened the scoring with a converted '45' and Cooper and Ciaran Murtagh traded frees before 'Gooch' tied the scores up. O'Sullivan planted the first score from play on ten minutes to edge the Munster champions ahead for the first time -  a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Cooper thumped an unstoppable close-range shot to the back of the Rossies net on 13 minutes and daylight appeared between the teams as the winners followed up with three further points in as many minutes courtesy of corner back Marc O Se, Johnny Buckley and O'Sullivan - 1-6 to 0-2 at the midway stage in the first half.

Ciaran Murtagh registered the underdogs' first point in 16 minutes before clipping over a dubious free to pare the arrears to five points with nine minutes left before the break. Generous refereeing allowed Walsh to smash in the Kingdom's second major from close range on 28 minutes - after taking way too many steps - and the game was over as a contest long before Paul Murphy followed up with an instant point to make it 2-7 to 0-4.

Cooper and Diarmuid Murtagh swapped frees and the impressive O'Sullivan sprang back up (after being cynically fouled by Claffey) and rolled the ball to the corner of the net deep into added time to put an end to what was a nightmare opening period for the Rossies.

Cooper (free) and O'Sullivan stretched the gap upon the restart and Murphy cancelled out a Diarmuid Murtagh free before half-time replacement Donie Shine chipped over a trademark Rossies '45' and Ciaran Murtagh converted a brace of frees inside a minute - 3-11 to 0-9 with 20 minutes remaining.

Diarmuid Murtagh hit Roscommon's first second-half point from play, which was cancelled out by O'Sullivan (1-4); Cooper (free) replied to an exquisite finish from Conor Devaney off the outside of his left boot; full back Collins got forward to point a brace after sub Barry John Keane had registered for the winners.

Substitute Brendan O'Sullivan registered Kerry's 15th point five minutes from the end and Rossies corner back Sean McDermott closed the scoring with the match long since over. Six wins in a row for Kerry.

Kerry - B Kelly; M O Se (0-1), M Griffin, S Enright; P Crowley, A O'Mahony, F Fitzgerald; K Donaghy, D Moran; J Buckley (0-1), P Murphy (0-2), D Walsh (1-0); D O'Sullivan (1-4), C Cooper (1-5, 0-5f), S O'Brien. Subs: B Sheehan for J Buckley, K Young for F Fitzgerald, A Fitzgerald for S O'Brien, BJ Keane (0-1) for D Walsh, B O'Sullivan (0-1) for D Moran, P O'Connor for P Crowley.

Roscommon - G Claffey (0-1'45); S McDermott (0-1), N Collins (0-2), N McInerney; D Murray, S Purcell, S Mullooly; N Daly, C Shine; F Cregg, C Murtagh (0-4, 3f), C Devaney (0-1); D Murtagh (0-4, 3f), S Kilbride, C Cregg. Subs: D Shine (0-1'45) for C Shine, R Stack for S Purcell, D Keenan for S Mullooly, N Kilroy for C Cregg, R Daly for C Devaney, J McDermott for N Daly.

Referee - P Hughes.

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