All-Ireland MFC semi-final: 14-man Kerry prevail in nail-biting finish

August 12, 2018

Monaghan's Ronan Grimes attempts to block Dylan Geaney of Kerry.
©INPHO/Tommy Dickson.

Kerry's All-Ireland MFC five-in-a-row bid survived a major scare against Monaghan at Croke Park this afternoon.

Peter Keane's side were pushed all the way by a gutsy Monaghan outfit but, in a nail-biting finish, stoppage time points from Paul Walsh (2 frees) and Jack Kennelly saw them secure a 1-16 to 2-11 success.

Seamus McEnaney managed teams are generally never found wanting when it comes to fighting spirit and that was something this batch of Farney County youngsters have in plentiful supply as they could have easily thrown in the towel when falling nine points in arrears shortly after the resumption.

At the three-quarter hour mark, the scoreboard read: Kerry 1-13, Monaghan 0-9 but the dismissal of the Kingdom's corner-back Conor Flannery shortly after proved to be a major turning point in the contest.

Two quick-fire Monaghan goals from Jason Irwin and substitute Mark Mooney levelled matters (2-10 to 1-13) with four minutes of normal time remaining and the momentum was very much on the side of the Ulster champions at that stage.

A Donnacha Swinburne point gave McEnaney's charges the lead for the first time as the game entered injury-time but, with their backs very much against the wall, Kerry came out fighting and three unanswered points from Walsh and Kennelly saw them fall over the finishing line with their noses in front.

In the early exchanges, Kerry wasted no time in asserting their superiority and raced into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead in the opening quarter after captain Dan McCarthy got the scoring underway from his centre-back position.

Monaghan goalkeeper Ryan Farrelly was kept busy during the opening period and was called into action twice to deny Paul O'Shea and Darragh Lyne.

Monaghan's Jordan McGarrell with Darragh Rahilly of Kerry. ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry.

He was nearly was left with egg on his face in the 3rd minute after leaving his posts to offer support to his outfield team-mates before scrambling back to knock O'Shea's effort out for a '45' while he pulled off a top drawer one-handed save to keep Lyne's well struck 26th minute shot out.

Aaron Mulligan opened the Farney County's account and they were still very much in the contest at the halfway stage when trailing by 0-6 to 0-10.

Right corner-forward Dylan Geaney accounted for half of the Munster champions' first-half tally while Mulligan raised three white flags for the Ulster men.

The second-half was only three minutes old when corner-back David Mangan roamed forward to find the back of the Monaghan net after good work by Micheal Lenihan.

Keane's team followed that up with two points to establish a nine-point lead but three unanswered frees from Sean Jones kept Monaghan in the tie.

Few in Croke Park could have envisaged the drama that was about to unfold at that stage but it's Kerry who advance to a final showdown with Galway by the skin of their teeth.

Kerry - M Kelliher; C Flannery, O Fitzgerald, D Mangan (1-0); C Moriarty, D McCarthy (0-2), D Murphy; P O'Shea, D Lyne (0-1); D Rahilly (0-3), P Walsh (0-3, 2f), K Falvey (0-1); D Geaney (0-5, 2f), P D'Arcy, M Lenihan. Subs: J O'Connor for P D'Arcy, J McCarthy for M Lenihan, J Kennelly (0-1) for J O'Connor, K O'Donoghue for D Mangan, M Cooper for D Geaney

Monaghan - R Farrelly; R Grimes, J Doogan, S Hanratty; C Flood, B Og O Dufaigh, M Meehan; J McGarrell, A Moore; A Mulligan (0-4, 1f), S Jones (0-4f), K Gallagher; D Swinburne (0-1), L Power (0-1), J Irwin (1-1). Subs: O O'Hanlon for M Meehan, M Mooney (1-0) for J McGarrell, D Dempsey for L Power, J Wilson for K Gallagher.

Referee - P Neilan.

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