Updated: January 28th, 2024

Allianz FL: Oak Leafers open with victory in Kerry

Shane McGuigan’s injury time free ensured Derry opened their return to Division One with victory, against Kerry in Tralee.

Game Recap

from GAA.ie

Kerry 2-8 Derry 0-15

The rematch of Kerry and Derry at a wet Tralee in January was never going to draw favourable comparisons with last July’s All-Ireland semi-final at a sun-splashed Croke Park, but it nevertheless produced a cliffhanger finish, with Shane McGuigan’s 73rd minute pointed free grabbing victory for the Ulster men.

Sub-plots abounded in the build-up, with the meeting of Jack O’Connor and Mickey Harte in opposing dug-outs getting an airing, and wonderment about just how ready Kerry, beaten McGrath Cup finalists, would fare against the newly minted McKenna Cup champions.

Perhaps the most intrigue centred on the ‘will they or won’t they’ question over the Glen players, and whether or not last weekend’s winning All-Ireland Club Championship contingent would appear.

Ultimately, Derry started three of Glen’s All-Ireland Club winners – Conor Glass at midfield and Ethan Doherty and Ciaran McFaul in the wing-forward spots.

Harte, clearly, was eager to carry Glen’s rich vein of form into the county team, and the Watty Graham men were happy to oblige.

For Kerry’s part, Jack O’Connor sprang no late surprises, with David and Paudie Clifford taking their place in the roped-off seats high in the stand, though by the end of a helter-skelter 74 minutes, how their manager might have wished a bit of Fossa magic to, at least, rescue a draw and a point for the home side.

Not that Kerry didn’t have chances to snatch a win from a game they were behind in for the majority of it. Their manager referenced two, maybe three, spurned goal chances in the second half, on top of the two Kerry scored through Conor Geaney and Dylan Casey.

Those green flags came in the final quarter as Kerry cut a six-point deficit, 0-10 to 0-4, after 40 minutes back to parity, 2-7 to 0-13, by the 64th minute, but the hosts seemed to lack the composure to engineer a lead score.

Stephen O’Brien was put through on goal in the 66th minute, but inexplicably tried to find a marked Sean O’Shea with a pass when an easy point or more difficult shot on goal were the wiser options.

Earlier in the half Jason Foley was probably the wrong man in the right place when Dara Moynihan picked his full back out with a great pass, but Odhran Lynch was out quickly and bravely to save at Foley’s feet.

Playing with a stiff wind in the first half, Derry set up as Derry tend to do – with all bodies behind the ball when defending, and then breaking at speed on the counter-offensive. Three minutes in and the system worked a treat – the visitors turning over a Kerry attack, Ethan Doherty doing the main haulage of the ball and Glass delivering the game’s first score.

Four minutes later Brian Ó Beaglaoich set up Sean O’Shea for a Kerry equaliser, and in the 11th minute O’Shea converted a free after a foul on Joe O’Connor, but thereafter for the majority of the first half Derry were on top.

Three points in quick succession from full back, Chrissy McKaigue, Shane McGuigan and wing-back had Derry two ahead after 16 minutes, a lead they led 0-7 to 0-2 after 25 minutes, with Glass and Brendan Rogers having the upperhand at midfield on Joe O’Connor and debutant Sean O’Brien.

Sean O’Shea (free) and Moynihan scored to cut the gap back to three points before Rogers fired Derry into a 0-8 to 0-4 half time lead. Jack O’Connor wasn’t too displeased with the first half performance, and he was much more enthused by Kerry’s energy and efforts in the second half.

Suffice to say, then, that most of his frustrations came out of that second period too, O’Connor feeling there was at least a draw there for the taking, but as it was last year, Kerry start the League on the back foot with an opening day defeat.

Derry, meanwhile, are up and running with a precious away win.

Teams and scorers

Scorers for Derry: S McGuigan 0-7 (6f), C McKaigue 0-1, C Doherty 0-1, G McKinless 0-1, B Rogers 0-1, C Glass 0-1, D Cassidy 0-1, C McFaul 0-1, N Toner 0-1.

Scorers for Kerry: Sean O’Shea 0-5 (4f), D Casey 1-0, C Geaney 1-0, D Moynihan 0-1, D Geaney 0-1, G O’Sullivan 0-1 (m).

Derry: Odran Lynch; Conor McCluskey, Christopher McKaigue, Diarmuid Baker; Padraig McGrogan; Gareth McKinless, Conor Doherty; Conor Glass, Brendan Rogers; Ethan Doherty, Declan Cassidy, Ciaran McFaul; Niall Loughlin, Shane McGuigan, Paul Cassidy.

Subs: Niall Toner for P Cassidy (47), Cormac Murphy for N Loughlin (60).

Black card: Ciaran McFaul (45-55 min).

Kerry: Shane Ryan, Graham O’Sullivan, Jason Foley, Dylan Casey ), Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Tom O’Sullivan, Gavin White, Joe O’Connor, Seán O’Brien, Dara Moynihan, Dylan Geaney, Cillian Burke, Killian Spillane, Seán O’Shea, Micheál Burns.

Subs: Barry Dan O’Sullivan for S O’Brien (28), Paul Murphy for B Ó Beaglaoich (HT), Conor Geaney for M Burns (ht), Stephen O’Brien for C Burke (45), Diarmuid O’Connor for K Spillane (49).

Referee: Joe McQuillan (Cavan).