By Mike Fitzpatrick
Kerry 1-16, Cavan 1-9
Kerry came through this tie showing more than a little class.
Without such important figures as the injured Bingo Driscoll, who damaged his ankle in last week’s tie versus Monaghan, and the suspended Paul Gallivan, sent off in the same game, Kerry had to switch things around a little. Reintroducing Seamus Harkan to their forward line, and with Mark Fitzgerald playing alongside him, it looked as if they had a full strength side available.
In giving the man of the match honors to Mark Fitzgerald, who played his second fabulous game of the day, it’s perhaps a little tough on players such as Willie O’Donnell and Dave McCarthy of Kerry, and Thomas Blake of Cavan, who all played out of their skin.
Cavan came into the tie as obvious underdogs, though they played well in their first game when they inflicted a defeat upon Westmeath. Cavan, if you remember, opened up last season on a winning note too, when they emerged victorious over defending champions Leitrim. But they slipped up afterwards and ended their season on a disappointing note.
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Kerry are this year’s defending champions, and on this kind of form, it’ll be difficult to knock them from this perch. Johnny Driscoll opened the scoring for the Kingdom side, followed by two efforts from McCarthy.
Thomas Blake and Paul O’ Connor hit back for Cavan, and things looked good for the Blues. O’Connor hit another for Cavan to bring the tie to within a point, but Kerry stepped up a gear, with Fitzgerald hitting two over the bar, and the excellent Willie O’Donnell grabbing another.
Going into the break, Dessie O’Reilly hit another for Cavan, but by then, Fitzgerald and McCarthy had grabbed another point each for Kerry to give them a four point lead.
Kerry continued their dominance after the break, with Fitzgerald hitting a goal, despite some great saves from Kevin Jordan in the Cavan goal.
McCarthy and Harkan hit another one each for Kerry to give them a daunting nine point lead.
Thomas Blake hit three on the trot for Cavan to bring them back into the tie a little, and a Paul O’Conner point brought them to within six points.
Kerry continued to press on. With 12 minutes to go, Colm Shannon of Cavan hit a penalty to give the scoreline some further respectability, though two efforts apiece from Willie O’Donnell and Dave McCarthy were enough to clinch the victory for the Kingdom side.
Kerry are looking good to go some way towards clinching another crown this year. Despite some spirited play from Cavan in this game, and Monaghan last week, Kerry still managed to come through relatively unscathed. They obviously miss Bingo Driscoll and Paul Gallivan, though they should be back for their next tie in a few weeks.
Cavan: Kevin Jordan, Niall Sugrue, Kieran Reilly, Barney Brady, Jim O’Connor, Liam Maguire, Barry Annette, Jim Gilsenan, James McSweeney, Paul O’Connor (0-3), Dessie O’Reilly (0-1), Emmet McCormack, Thomas Blake (0-5), Colm Shannon (1-0), Andy McEvoy. Subs: Philip Sheridan, Gary McDermott
Kerry: Finbarr Flood, Jake Rooney, Adrian Riney, Paul Dillon, Peter Riney, Paddy O’Connor, Louis Holland, Willie O’Donnell (0-3), Dave McSweeney, Paudie Mulvihill (0-1), Johnny Driscoll (0-2), Mark Fitzgerald (1-3), Seamus Harkan (0-1), Dave McCarthey (0-6), Ollie Murray