back of the net

David Clifford goal key as Kerry book football league final spot after win over Armagh

Another victory for Jack O’Connor’s team.

Kerry 1-13

Armagh 0-13

Paul Brennan reports from the Athletic Grounds

KERRY HAVE BOOKED their place in the Division One football league final after digging out a hard-fought win against an Armagh team, that they could still meet in that Croke Park final in two weeks.

david-clifford-and-joe-oconnor-celebrate Philip Magowan / INPHO David Clifford and Joe O'Connor celebrate Kerry's win. Philip Magowan / INPHO / INPHO

David Clifford’s 43rd minute goal was the difference in the end as Kerry had to defend for their lives in the last 10 minutes as Armagh threw everything at them in search of the win that would have guaranteed their place in the final on 2 April.

Clifford hadn’t been listed on the match day squad, but he travelled nonetheless, and was called into action for the second half, with Kerry leading 0-8 to 0-4 but far from assured of the win.

Kerry had been the better team in the first half, and led by 0-8 to 0-4 at half time – but they also led the wide count by the same numbers, eight to four, and they still had it all to do in front of a partisan crowd and because Jack Savage was shown a black card right on the stroke of half time.

Tiernan Kelly kicked Armagh into the lead in the third minute, but Kerry were soon moving freely, and scores from Savage (two), Paudie Clifford, Diarmuid O’Connor and Tony Brosnan (mark) had Kerry 0-5 to 0-1 ahead by the 15th minute, a lead that grew to 0-7 to 0-1 by the 26th minute.

stefan-campbell-and-dairmuid-oconnor Philip Magowan / INPHO Armagh's Stefan Campbell and Kerry's Diarmuid O'Connor. Philip Magowan / INPHO / INPHO

Kelly doubled Armagh’s lead in the 28th minute before full back James Morgan raided forward to make it 0-7 to 0-3, but the home side still trailed by four at the break.

David Clifford’s introduction for the second half gave Kerry a better edge up front and his side were leading 0-9 to 0-6 when he rolled Stephen O’Brien’s centred ball past Ethan Rafferty for the game’s only goal.

That six point lead might have rattled Armagh but it didn’t floor them, and they took the fight to Kerry thereafter. On the hour mark Kerry led 1-11 to 0-9 before Rian O’Neill converted two frees either side of a David Clifford point to leave it 1-12 to 0-11 after 64 minutes.

A moment later Jason Duffy broke the Kerry cover but his goal-bound shot was smartly saved by Shane Ryan, which was the chance Armagh needed but didn’t take.

The closing minutes were frantic and spiky, with cynical fouling making life difficult for referee Martin McNally, who didn’t endear himself to either team with some inconsistent decisions.

No matter, Kerry held on for the win, a result that puts them into the final, where it will, in all likelihood, be either Mayo or Armagh who they face.

a-view-of-action-during-the-game Philip Magowan / INPHO Kerry and Armagh players in action. Philip Magowan / INPHO / INPHO

Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford 1-2, Jack Savage 0-5 (0-2f), Paudie Clifford 0-2, Brian Ó Beaglaoich 0-1, Diarmuid O’Connor 0-1, Tony Brosnan 0-1 (0-1 mark), Stephen O’Brien 0-1.

Scorers for Armagh: Rían O’Neill 0-5 (0-4f, 0-1 mark), Tiernan Kelly 0-2, Rory Grugan 0-2 (f), Gregory McCabe 0-1, James Morgan 0-1, Jarlath Óg Burns 0-1, Stefan Campbell 0-1.


1. Shane Ryan (Rathmore)

2. Dylan Casey (Austin Stacks), 3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue), 4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Graham O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses), 6. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe), 7. Brian Ó Beaglaíoch (An Ghaeltacht)

8. Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil), 9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)

17. Paudie Clifford (Fossa), 11. Jack Savage (Kerins O Rahillys), 12. Adrian Spillane (Templenoe)

13. Tony Brosnan (Dr Crokes) 14. Killian Spillane (Templenoe), 15. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare Shamrocks)


David Clifford 1-2 for J Savage (temp, 12-15)

David Clifford for K Spillane (ht)

Joe O’Connor for D O’Connor (temp, 50-54)

Paul Geaney for T Brosnan (57)

Micheal Burns for A Spillane (61)

Joe O’Connor for J Barry (65)

Greg Horan for S O’Brien (70)


1. Ethan Rafferty (Grange)

2. Greg McCabe (Shane O’Neills), 3. James Morgan (Crossmaglen), 4. Aidan Forker (Maghery)

5. Aaron McKay (Dromintee), 6. Niall Rowland (Culloville), 7. Jarly Óg Burns (Silverbridge)

8. Ciaran Mackin (Shane O’Neills), 9. Ben Crealey (Maghery)

10. Jemar Hall (Forkhill), 11. Ciaran O’Hanlon (KIlleavey), 12. Tiernan Kelly (Clann Éireann)

13. Rian O’Neill (Crossmaglen) 14. Andrew Murnin (St Pauls), 15. Rory Grugan (Ballymacnab)


Jason Duffy for C O’Hanlon (18)

Stefan Campbell 0-1 for J Hall (ht)

Connaire Mackin for N Rowland (ht)

Niall Grimley for C Mackin (49)

Conor O’Neill for A Murnin (57)

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)

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