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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Lorraine O’Sullivan/INPHO Kerry's Tommy Walsh tackled by Conor McGill of Meath.
# unconvincing
Kerry finish with 13 men and eventually shake off dogged Meath
Meath had Cillian O’Sullivan and Donal Keogan black-carded in the first-half.

Kerry 1-19

Meath 2-13

Paul Brennan reports from Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney

KERRY RECORDED THEIR second win of Division One with a three-point win over Meath in what was a far from convincing performance from last year’s league runners-up.

In the end Meath lacked that little bit of killer instinct to arrest a run of what’s now four straight defeats in the competition, but they can and should take plenty of positives from their trip to Killarney.

That, of course, won’t nourish Meath manager Andy McEntee much ahead of the visit of Galway to Navan next weekend, but Kerry boss Peter Keane will have plenty to ponder, too, ahead of the Kingdom’s trip to Castlebar next Saturday.

The visit of newly promoted Meath was always going to be considered a banker win for the Kingdom, but Kerry could never quite shake free of a dogged Meath side that made life very difficult for themselves with two players going to the sin-bin in the first half.

Kerry would finish with 13 players on the pitch after black cards for Micheal Burns (70) and Tony Brosnan (75) but Meath’s sin-binnings – Cillian O’Sullivan in the fifth minute and then Donal Keogan going to the ‘bin’ in the 30th minute – were much more destructive to their hopes of arresting a run of three successive defeats.

Halfway through the first half Kerry found themselves 1-5 to 0-0 ahead – David Clifford’s 14th minute goal seeming to suggest that this could get very ugly very early for the visitors – but eight points can be a dangerous lead in football…or so it seemed as Meath thundered back into the contest, outscoring their hosts 1-5 to 0-2 in the next nine minutes.

Paul Geaney, Micheal Burns, Sean O’Shea (two frees) and senior debutant David Shaw had kicked Kerry’s early points, but just after Burns’ 17th minute score put Kerry eight ahead, Meath responded with points from Cillian O’Sullivan – not long back on the field – and James McEntee, before captain Keogan slammed a fine shot past Brian Kelly in the Kerry goal to cut the deficit to three points.

That gap was down to two when Thomas O’Reillys converted his second free to make it 1-7 to 1-5, but Kerry finished strong, after Keogan’s black card, with points from O’Shea (two frees) and Clifford to leave Kerry 1-10 to 1-5 ahead at the interval.

Scores from O’Reilly (two frees), Oisin O’Brien and James Conlon brought the score back to 1-11 to 1-9 as Meath found some new energy and momentum, with Bryan Menton and Brian Conlon getting an important foothold in the centre of the field.

Dara Moynihan and Tommy Walsh’s arrival from the bench gave Kerry much needed new focus and options in attack, and two points from the former, along with another from the excellent Micheal Burns, moved Kerry into a 1-17 to 1-9 lead and looking comfortable for the win.

Meath had other ideas, and when Bryan McMahon finished the ball past Kelly in the 62nd minute to make it a five-point game Kerry still had work to do. In the end they just about got it done, with Walsh and Clifford kicking scores to keep Meath at bay, though the Royals did draw a couple of important saves from Kelly as Kerry fell over the winning line.

Scorers for Kerry: D Clifford 1-3 (0-1f), S O’Shea 0-6f, M Burns 0-3, D Shaw 0-2, P Geaney 0-2, D Moynihan 0-2, T Walsh 0-1

Scorers for Meath: T O’Reilly 0-6 (5f), D Keogan 1-0, B McMahon 1-0, J Conlon 0-2, C O’Sullivan 0-2 (1f), B Menton 0-1, J McEntee 0-1, O O’Brien 0-1

Kerry

1. Brian Kelly (Legion)

2. Graham O’Sullivan (Piarsaigh na Dromoda)
3. Tadhg Morley (Templenoe)
4. Tom O’Sullivan (Dingle)

5. Paul Murphy (Rathmore
6. Shane Enright (Tarbert)
7. Gavin White (Dr Crokes)

8. Liam Kearney (Spa)
9. Jack Barry (Na Gaeil)

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10. Micheál Burns (Dr Crokes)
11. Seán O’Shea (Kenmare Shamrocks)
12. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare Shamrocks)

19. David Shaw (Dr Crokes)

14. David Clifford (Fossa)
15. Paul Geaney (Dingle)

Subs

13. Dara Moynihan (Spa) for L Kearney (44)
21. Tommy Walsh (Kerins O’Rahillys) for D Shaw (49)
25. Tony Brosnan (Dr Crokes) for S O’Brien (61)
18. Diarmuid O’Connor (Na Gaeil) for P Geaney (71)

Meath

1. Marcus Brennan (Navan O’Mahonys)

2. Robin Clarke (Duleek Bellewstown)
3. Conor McGill (Ratoath)
4. David Toner (Curraha)

10. James McEntee (Curraha)
5. Ronan Ryan (Druim Samhradh)
7. Donal Keogan (Rathkenny)

8. Bryan Menton (Donaghmore Ashbourne)
6. Brian Conlon (Simonstown Gaels)

13. Cillian O’Sullivan (Moynalvey)
11. Bryan McMahon (Ratoath)
12. Ethan Devine (Na Fianna)

23. James Conlon (St Colmcille’s)
14. Thomas O’Reilly (Wolfe Tones)
26. Oisin O’Brien (Navan O’Mahonys)

Subs

20. Eamon Wallace (Rathoath) for E Devine (54)
15. Donal Lenihan (St Peter’s, Dunboyne) for O O’Brien (59)
21. Sean Tobin (Simonstown Gaels) for J Conlon (59)
19. Gavin McCoy (St Peter’s, Dunboyne) for B Conlon (65)
17. Ross Ryan (Druim Samhradh) for R Ryan (67)

Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary).

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