Kerry's Paudie Clifford celebrates his goal with Darragh Roche. Evan Treacy/INPHO
Kingdom Come

Kerry get league title defence up and running with 11-point win over Monaghan

Paudie Clifford scored a stunning individual goal, with Darragh Roche and Donal O’Sullivan also raising green flags in Killarney.

Kerry 3-16

Monaghan 0-14

A WEEK LATER than they would have liked, Kerry got the first win of their League title defence under the belt, and they did it in a fashion that suggests they won’t be giving the title up as easily as might have been suggested before the competition began.

An 11-point win over any Division One opposition in early February is to be welcomed, and Kerry boss Jack O’Connor will be particularly pleased with the response of his players after their one-point loss away to Donegal the previous week.

A contentious Donegal point irked O’Connor, but the root of his crankiness afterwards stemmed more from Kerry’s inability to close out a game they had started well in but got more sloppy in as Donegal put the squeeze on them.

There were no such issues in Killarney for the champions. It took them the best part of the first half an hour to get a handle on a game Monaghan team, but once they opened up a four-point half time lead there was a sense that the win was there for the taking if they had a mind to go after it.

And did they what? Second half goals from Darragh Roche, Paudie Clifford and Donal O’Sullivan secured what was a walk-in win in the end, and leaves winless Monaghan and manager Vinnie Corey with much to ponder ahead of the visit of Donegal to Clones in a fortnight.

Roche’s goal after 39 minutes was, in essence, the key moment when the belief drained from the visitors, while Donal O’Sullivan nailed the ‘man of the match’ award with a goal in additional time to go with the three points he kicked from play.

But it was Clifford’s goal that drew the biggest cheer from the 10,232 crowd after the Fossa man soloed the ball from deep inside his own half all the way to the penalty spot before passing the ball past Rory Beggan to make it 2-13 to 0-10 after 51 minutes.

The goals were the bright spots on a very open game that was high on scores but low on intensity, not that the defending League champions Kerry will worry too much about that.

greg-horan-after-the-game Kerry's Greg Horan after the game. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

It took six minutes for Monaghan to get the game’s first score, via a Conor McCarthy free, and a minute later Tony Brosnan opened Kerry’s account, also from a free, and there was never any more than two scores between the teams until the last few minutes of the half when the home side widened the gap to four points at the interval.

It was a curious first half, one that produced 16 points from that sixth minute opener until Micheal Burns slipped over Kerry’s 10th in the 38th minute, and yet it passed by with minimum fuss and few memorable moments.

Roche and the very lively Donal O’Sullivan – making his first League start – led the charge for Kerry, while Conor McCarthy and Micheal Bannigan did most of the scoring for Monaghan as the teams traded some fine scores under pressure.

They were level at 0-3 apiece after 12 minutes, and 0-5 each after 17 before Roche, O’Sullivan, Tony Brosnan, Dara Moynihan and Burns raised flags to make it 0-10 to 0-6 at half time. It might have been closer but for a smart clearing punch from Kerry goalkeeper Shane Murphy as Conor McCarthy tried to connect with Dessie Ward’s inviting cross.

Kerry extended their lead through Brosnan (free) and Donal O’Sullivan, before Roche was played in to dispatch Kerry’s first goal on 39 minutes, and that was pretty much that.

Monaghan’s resistance began to wane almost immediately, with Kerry in no mood to ease off the gas, with competition strong among those trying to make an early impression in the absence of names like David Clifford, Sean O’Shea and Paul Geaney.

Paudie Clifford isn’t one of those who has to make a name for himself but he did anyway in this game. Leading 1-13 to 0-10, Clifford picked up the ball deep in his own half and travelled and travelled until he had little other option than to slip it past Beggan to put the home side nine ahead.

Monaghan had Ryan O’Toole sent off in the 55th minute on a straight red, but Monaghan’s numerical disadvantage hardly mattered much by then, and the final coup de grave came in additional time when Brosnan teed up Donal O’Sullivan for the Kilgarvan man to cap his full debut with Kerry’s third goal.

Scorers for Kerry: D O’Sullivan 1-3, D Roche 1-2, P Clifford 1-1, T Brosnan 0-4 (4f), T O’Sullivan 0-2, M Burns 0-1, D Moynihan 0-1, A Spillane 0-1, K Spillane 0-1 (m)

Scorers for Monaghan: C McCarthy 0-5 (4f), M Bannigan 0-3 (2f), S O’Hanlon 0-3, K Duffy 0-1, D Ward 0-1, K Gallagher 0-1


1. Shane Murphy

2. Graham O’Sullivan, 3. Jason Foley, 4. Tom O’Sullivan

5. Pa Warren, 6. Tadhg Morley, 7. Paul Murphy

8. Jack Barry, 9. Barry O’Sullivan

10 Micheál Burns, 11. Dara Moynihan, 12. Adrian Spillane

13. Tony Brosnan, 14. Darragh Roche, 15. Donal O’Sullivan


  • 26. Paudie Clifford for D Moynihan (46)
  • 17. Killian Spillane for D Roche (53)
  • 21. Stefan Okunbor for B O’Sullivan (53)
  • 19. Greg Horan for P Warren (56)
  • 22. Ruairí Murphy for A Spillane (59).


1. Rory Beggan

23. Ryan O’Toole, 3. Kieran Duffy, 4. Ryan Wylie

5. Conor Boyle, 6. Dessie Ward, 7. Kevin Loughran

8. Killian Lavelle, 9. Colm Lennon

10. Stephen O’Hanlon, 11. Micheal Bannigan, 12. Joel Wilson

13. Conor McCarthy, 18. Karl Gallagher, 15. Shane Carey.


  • 24. Darragh Treanor for C Lennon (ht)
  • 17. Gary Mohan for J Wilson (40)
  • 2. Thomas McPhillips for K Loughran (55)
  • 14. Sean Jones for S Carey (59)
  • 19. Shane Slevin for R Wylie (68).

Referee: Conor Lane (Cork)

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