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NFL Division One South: Kerry show composure to overcome tough test in Hyde Park.

Kerry: 2-15, Roscommon: 1-12

Eanna O’Reilly

A hard-fought win for Kerry over Roscommon today saw Peter Keane’s side finish top of the division 1 south group, to set up a semi-final against Tyrone. The kingdom certainly got nothing easy at Hyde Park against the home side, who were well up for the battle from the throw in. It was only in the fourth quarter that Kerry finally managed to pull away from a spirited Roscommon effort.

Kerry’s full forward line of Tony Brosnan and the Clifford brothers, David and Paudie, had a huge threat, but the home side defended well in the first half. Kerry’s chances were limited early in the game, but they managed to get points from Paul Geaney, Tony Brosnan and Paudie Clifford. Roscommon got early scores through Niall Kilroy, Conor Cox, Richard Hughes and Ciaran Murtagh, to take a 0-4 to 0-3 lead into the water break.

The kingdom upped their game hugely after the water break, scoring seven points and only conceding three up until half time. David Clifford got gradually more involved and moved in and out of the full forward line to get on more ball. He put over an excellent point and also got one from a free.

His brother Paudie also got his second point, while Tony Brosnan soon got his second. Diarmuid O’Connor, Paul Geaney and Ronan Buckley also kicked points as Kerry dominated the second quarter hugely. Roscommon kept in touch, with points from Donie Smith, Conor Cox and Diarmuid Murtagh, leaving the half time score at 0-10 to 0-7 in favour of Kerry.

The home side started well in the second half, with Murtagh putting over another point. Roscommon’s discipline let them down however, and a cheap foul on Clifford saw Paul Geaney put over an easy free. The intensity lifted in the third quarter, with both sides fighting for the momentum. Roscommon put over the next point through Ciaran Murtagh, a brilliant score from the wing, and the margin was narrowed to one point.

It was anyone’s game at Hyde Park and the home side soon got the equaliser. Enda Smith did well to win a mark and put over his shot to tie the game at 0-11 apiece. David Clifford and Diarmuid Murtagh then exchanged points from placed balls at either end. Kerry then produced a great attacking move, which ended with an excellent point for Diarmuid O’Connor.

Roscommon received a major boost when Tadhg Morley received a red card, after a wild tackle on Cian McKeon. Morley wasn’t long on the pitch himself, after coming on as a second half substitute. Peter Keane’s side were down to fourteen men with fifteen minutes to play.

But the kingdom showed great character to step up to the challenge. Not to mention quality, as the Clifford brothers combined to engineer a goal for David at a crucial moment of the game. Diarmuid O’Connor then put over a good point and all of a sudden, Kerry had a five-point lead.

Roscommon appeared to panic slightly with the threat of the Clifford brothers. A poor foul allowed David Clifford to put over another free to stretch Kerry’s lead. Just as the kingdom looked to pull away however, Roscommon hit back. Conor Devaney got on the end of an incisive attack and finished superbly to the net late in the game.

Things went wrong for the home side in injury time, however. First, Enda Smith was sent off after getting a second yellow card. Then, Kerry’s Joe O’Connor was put through on goal and finished impressively to the Roscommon net. It summed up a game where Kerry just had that extra class to stay ahead of a hard-working Roscommon team. It finished at Hyde Park, Kerry: 2-15, Roscommon: 1-12.

Kerry: K. Fitzgibbon, G. O’Sullivan, J. Foley, T. O’Sullivan; B. O’Beaglaoich, G. Crowley, M. Breen; D. Moran, D. O’Connor (0-2); S. O’Brien, R. Buckley (0-1), P. Geaney (0-3, 0-1 free); D. Clifford (1-4, 0-3 frees), T. Brosnan (0-2), P. Clifford (0-2). Subs: A. Spillane for Moran (blood 4), S. O’Shea for Buckley (43), P. Murphy (0-1) for G. O’Sullivan (45), T. Walsh for Brosnan (50), T. Morley for T. O’Sullivan (50), G. White for Geaney (53), J. Sherwood for Moran (65), J. O’Connor for O’Brien (70).

Roscommon: C. Lavin, D. Murray, C. Daly, B. Stack; R. Daly, C. Hussey, R. Hughes (0-1); E. Smith (0-1), T. O’Rourke; N. Kilroy, C. Murtagh (0-3), S. Killoran; D. Murtagh (0-3), D. Smith (0-2, 0-1 free), C. Cox (0-2). Subs: C. McKeon for D. Smith (49), P. Gillooly for Cox (53), H. Darcy for Kilroy (53), S, Mullooly for Daly (60), E. Nolan for O’Rourke (60), C. Devaney (1-0) for Killoran (65), D. Ruane for Murtagh (70).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).

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