By Conor Martin
A fine performance by David Clifford saw Kerry move to the summit of Division One in the 0-17 to 0-14 win over Monaghan in Inniskeen.
Given the Covid chaos that has been thrust upon the world this year. It was the two sides first competitive game in seven months, and Kerry who lost the Division 1 and All-Ireland finals last year seem like a team who have matured after experiencing heartbreak were by far the sharper outfit in Monaghan.
Kerry took charge from the first whistle and Clifford hit the opening two points before Tony Brosnan added a third Kerry score with nine minutes on the clock.
Monaghan took a while to get going and Andrew Woods finally opened Monaghan’s account in the 12th minute, Monaghan endured a promising period as they cut Kerry’s advantage to 0-5 to 0-4 just after 20 minutes.
However, corner-back Jason Foley charged upfield to double Kerry’s lead a minute later and they controlled the game to take a 0-10 to 0-6 advantage by half-time.
Despite Kerry being on top for most of the game, Monaghan got going in the second period and missed chances after half-time but Kerry were more ruthless in front of the posts and increased their lead to 0-13 to 0-7.
Monaghan then unleashed key player from the bench Conor McManus hit five points after his half-time introduction.McManus wasn’t risked in the first half as he recovers from a knock but his arrival did lead to an improved second-half Farney display.
The Kingdom could have wrapped up the game the 57th minute when they led by six points but Monaghan keeper Rory Beggan made a classy save to deny Jonathan Lyne.
Points from McManus and another substitute Stephen O’Hanlon cut Kerry’s lead to four with five minutes on the watch left but Clifford and Tom O’Sullivan extended the visitors lead to six once more.
An injury delay led to five minutes of added time becoming 10, Monaghan trimmed the lead to three but Kerry held firm and secured a deserved win to keep them firmly in the race for the Division One title.
Monaghan: Rory Beggan (0-01, 0-01f); Kieran Duffy, Conor Boyle, Ryan Wylie; Ryan McAnespie, Fintan Kelly (0-01), Karl O’Connell; Darren Hughes, Kieran Hughes (0-01); Dermot Malone, Micheal Bannigan (0-01, 0-01f), Dessie Ward (0-01); Conor McCarthy, Andrew Woods (0-01), Shane Carey.
Subs used: Conor McManus (0-05, 0-01f) for McCarthy (ht), Stephen O’Hanlon (0-01) for Malone (50mins), C McGuinness (0-02, 0-01m) for Woods (51mins), J McKenna for O’Connell (61mins), D Wylie for McAnespie (63mins).
Kerry: Shane Ryan; Jason Foley (0-01), Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan( 0-01); Paul Murphy (0-01), Peter Crowley, Gavin White( 0-01); David Moran (0-01), Diarmuid O’Connor (0-01); Micheal Burns, Sean O’Shea (0-02, 0-01 45), Ronan Buckley; Tony Brosnan (0-03), David Clifford (0-06, 0-02,, 0-01f), Dara Moynihan.
Subs used: J Lyne for Burns (51mins), B O Beaglaoich for Moynihan (60mins), T Walsh for Moran (73 mins).
Referee: Barry Cassidy (Derry).