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Kerry's late saviour, Monaghan miss golden chance and McManus stars

There was plenty to digest after the action in Clones.

Monaghan and Kerry players react at the final whistle in Clones.
Monaghan and Kerry players react at the final whistle in Clones.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

1. Kerry’s late saviour

With the clock ticking down, it appeared as if Kerry were set to run out of road and faced with the unappealing prospect of a dead rubber in Killarney in a fortnight. Defeat was staring them in the face for the second time in a week but having trailed for 72 minutes, they restored parity at the most vital juncture.

It was a familiar move as a lofted delivery to Kieran Donaghy paid dividends, David Clifford’s poaching instincts serving Kerry well with a really neat finish to the net. In a frantic finale, a winning point was not conjured by either team and the draw salvaged Kerry’s 2018 season. They are still fighting heading to the last phase of games.

2. Monaghan miss out on a golden chance

Monaghan left Croke Park with regrets in 2007 and 2008 after championship tussles with Kerry, victory eluding them on both occasions. Today brought more crushing disappointment against the Kingdom. After bossing this match for so long, they were still left deflated at the final whistle after missing out on the experience of success on a big summer day against Kerry.

The chance was there to triumph on home soil and secure a berth in an All-Ireland semi-final for the first time in three decades. They performed brilliantly and Karl O’Connell’s 60th minute point that widened the gap to five points, had the look of a deeply significant score. But Monaghan only mustered a single point after that and were pegged back at the finish in dramatic fashion.

3. McManus stars in Clones

The threat of Conor McManus was well-advertised to Kerry but there was a marked difference in being aware of his influence and stifling it. Inside two minutes, Monaghan had troubled Kerry by servicing their danger man as he finished cooly to the net. By the final whistle he had raised nine white flags with four stylish efforts from play.

His looping runs, clever movement and precise finishing combined for a superb showing from the Clontibret man. Kerry could not prevent him from damaging them in the first half – Mark Griffin struggling in that duel – with Ronan Shanahan detailed to mind him after the break. He didn’t end up on the winning team but McManus’s fingerprints were all over Monaghan’s display as he helped put them in such a strong position.

4. Youngsters keep Kerry afloat

The clamour has grown in recent times for Eamonn Fitzmaurice to fling Kerry’s talented youngsters into senior combat and this summer has seen them afforded the opportunity to pit themselves against the best. Performing in the Munster cakewalks was one thing, this was an altogether tougher examination.

And in the scoring sense in particular, Kerry were delighted with the contribution of their youngsters. Tom O’Sullivan and Sean O’Shea were playing U21 football last year, David Clifford was a minor. But as a combination, the trio struck 1-13 today out of Kerry’s 1-17 on an afternoon when Paul Geaney, Kieran Donaghy and James O’Donoghue were all held scoreless. O’Shea’s reliability from placed balls, Clifford’s finishing from play and O’Sullivan’s surging runs were crucial aspects in keeping Kerry alive here.

5. Bank Holiday weekend to settle Super 8s issues

And so both teams have a break of a fortnight to take stock and consider matters before their last outings in the Super 8s. Galway are certain of a last four spot, it is Monaghan or Kerry who will join them. Monaghan have a tricky trip to Salthill, knowing a draw or a victory will suffice and defeat will work if Kerry slip up. At home in Killarney, Kerry must triumph against a Kildare side out of the running and hope Galway do them a favour. Scoring difference could easily be a factor with little to separate them as it stands with Monaghan (+2) and Kerry (-3).

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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