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Jack O'Connor's Kerry minors move one step closer to back-to-back All-Irelands

Michael Foley scored 1-3 as the Kingdom booked their place in the minor decider on 20 September.

Foley gets his shot away despite the attention of Eoghan Concannon.
Foley gets his shot away despite the attention of Eoghan Concannon.
Image: Andrew Paton/INPHO

Kerry 1-11

Derry 1-6

– Niall Kelly reports from Croke Park

ALL-IRELAND MINOR football champions Kerry survived a Derry scare to keep their back-to-back dream alive.

The Kingdom set up a meeting with either Tipperary or Kildare on 20 September and with it, a chance to win successive minor crowns for the first time since 1963.

Michael Foley starred with 1-3 from play while Conor Geaney, younger cousin of senior stars Paul and Michael, added 0-5.

Jack O’Connor’s side led by 0-6 to 0-3 at the break before a freak goal three minutes after the restart drew Derry level.

Corner-back Conor Maunsell launched the ball towards the Kerry square and in the greasy conditions, it slipped through goalkeeper Billy Courtney’s grasp and into the net.

Kerry restored their advantage five minutes later when Andrew Barry powered through the middle and combined with Geaney who squared to leave Foley with a simple palmed finish to the net.

Despite Derry’s best efforts they couldn’t close the gap beyond four points, and the loss of key forward Shane McGuigan to what seemed to be a harsh black card did not help their cause.

It was Kerry who started strongest and they broke down Derry’s defensive set-up to lead by 0-5 to 0-1 inside 13 minutes.

Damien McErlain’s decision to start with a sweeper looked to be playing into the holders’ hands.

But the Ulster champions came out of their shells and points from Shea Downey and the dangerous McGuigan gave them fresh hope approaching the break.

Kerry were held scoreless for 14 minutes as the mistakes crept in until a patient passage of play ended with a fine 40-yard point from midfielder John Mark Foley, his second of the opening half.

Daniel O’Brien had a chance to stretch Kerry’s lead but kicked his chance wide — one of four by either side in that opening period.

Maunsell’s speculative shot on 33 minutes drew Derry level, and Geaney and Francis Kearney traded points before a flowing team move led to Foley’s decisive goal.

The young corner-forward followed up with another fine score from the left to stretch the gap to five points, 1-9 to 1-4, in the 44th minute.

A point from substitute Niall McAtamney and a free from Conor Glass kept the Oak Leaf within touching distance.

But McGuigan’s black card for dragging down a Kerry defender deprived them of their most potent threat and it was Kerry’s star men, Foley and Geaney, who finished with a point apiece to seal their passage.

Scorers for Kerry:  Michael Foley 1-3, Conor Geaney 0-5 (3f), John Mark Foley 0-2, Andrew Barry 0-1.

Scorers for Derry: Conor Maunsell 1-0, Shane McGuigan 0-2, Shea Downey, Francis Kearney, Niall McAtanmey, Conor Glass (f) 0-1 each.

Kerry

1. Billy Courtney (Dr Crokes)

2. Darren Brosnan (Gneeveguilla)
3. Jason Foley (Ballydonoghue)
4. Jack Morgan (Austin Stacks)

5. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)
6. Mike Breen (Beaufort)
7. Daniel O’Brien (Glenflesk)

8. Andrew Barry (Na Gaeil)
9. John Mark Foley (Kilgarvan)

10. Brian Ó’Seanacháin (Ballydonoghue)
11. Sean O’Shea (Kenmare)
12. Brandon Barrett (Ardfert)

13. Michael Foley (Spa)
14. Bryan Sweeney (Listowel Emmets)
15. Conor Geaney (capt, Dingle)

Substitutes:

19. Tom O’Sullivan for Brosnan (39)
17. Mark O’Connor for Breen (39)
18. Stephen O’Sullivan for Barrett (46)
23. Evan Cronin for O’Shea (56)

Derry

1. Callum Mullan-Young (Glen)

2. Niall Keenan (Castledawson)
3. Conor McGrogan (Newbridge)
4. Conor Maunsell (Magherafelt)

5. Oisin Duffin (Ballinderry)
6. Michael McEvoy (Magherafelt)
7. Eoghan Concannon (Steelstown)

8. Patrick Kearney (Swatragh)
9. Jack Doherty (Glen)

10. Patrick Coney (Loup)
11. Shea Downey (Lavey)
12. Conor Glass (capt, Glen)

13. Tiernan Flanagan (Glen)
14. Francis Kearney (Swatragh)
15. Shane McGuigan (Slaughtneil)

Substitutes:

21. Niall McAtamney for P Kearney (HT)
23. Gearoid McLaughlin for Duffin (35)
19. Feargal Higgins for Maunsell (41)
18. Barry Grant for Coney (41)
20. Seamus Higgins for McGuigan (bc, 48)

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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