Kerry were deserved winners over Cavan as Kevin Walshe and Alan O'Donoghue ran the Cavan rear guard ragged in a sublime performance. Man of the match Walsh was on target for 1-4, while the speedy O'Donoghue was a continually thorn in Cavan's side. The Breffni men were in after five minutes, 0-2 to 0-1. Kevin Smith and Kevin Walshe traded frees in the first two minutes, before a second Smith free in the fifth minute left Cavan in front for a period of time. Kerry should have been in front early on but the usually reliable Kevin Walshe was dealing with a few jitters as he missed three of his next free attempts.
Alan O'Donoghue was missing his best form early on as well as he squandered what should have been an easy goal. Ambrose Donovan controlled the ball in the middle of the park before spotting the diminutive forward behind his marker and unleashing an inch perfect pass into the arms of O'Donoghue. What should have been an easy catch and turn instead was fumbled and the ball rolled harmlessly out of bounds for a goal kick.
Kerry were finally level on eighteen minutes when the veteran Vinnie Gavin picked out Paddy Smith who sent a trade mark left footed blast between the uprights. This was an interesting moment for Smith as it was his first game against his former club where he spent many seasons patrolling the forward lines. The moment wasn't lost on his old club either as the next time Smith was in control of the ball Cavan's big fullback, Alan Carolan, flattened his old comrade. Smith didn't seem to mind the robust challenge as he picked up the free which Kevin Walshe planted over to make the score 0-3 to 0-2.
Cavan responded through Kevin Smith who was on target with his third three of the half, but it would be their last score of the opening period. Kerry's next score would be an all important goal. Alan O'Donoghue soloed across the forty where he was fouled as he tried to elude a would-be tackler. Instead of putting the ball down for a long free opportunity, O'Donoghue sent a beautiful pass over the top of all the Cavan defenders into the path of Kevin Walshe.
Walshe had only keeper Maurice Power to beat to the ball which he duly did as he was able to fist the ball over the on rushing goalie into the empty net. Alan O'Donoghue followed up his superb assist with an elegant point just before the half time whistle. The forward picked the ball up deep inside enemy territory on the right wing. He came under heavy pressure immediately from two Cavan defenders, but the forward held his composure and soloed towards the middle before curling the ball inside the left upright despite being closely marked.
Kerry's good form continued into the second half as they built up a six-point advantage by the ten-minute mark. With Ambrose Donovan and Mike Joe Fitzgerald patrolling the middle of the park and containing the dangerous Steven Harold, the Kerry forwards had plenty of the ball to work with. After Diamuid Lyng opened the scoring with a long solo run down the right wing, Vinnie Gavin and Ross combined well to release Alan O'Donoghue for a short point. Donovan followed up his assist with a score of his own as he finished a passing play that began deep in their fullback line and included six different passers.
The Breffni men had looked overwhelmed for awhile but slowly began to force the tide of play in their favor after the midway point of the half. They were unlucky not to pull back a goal when Shane Clifford denied them point blank after a probing passing play. Kevin Smith took the ball down the right wing before sending a line drive pass towards goal. Forward Paddy Smith anticipated the pass as he stepped in front of his marker to get a strong fist to the pass but he was excellently denied by Clifford who made an impressive reflex save to parry the ball off the goal line.
Cavan continued to pressure and were rewarded with two points from Steven Harold and Kevin Smith. Kerry responded with another Kevin Walshe free, but they were caught sleeping at the back shortly after. Cavan caught Kerry out with a surging counterattack which exposed Shane Clifford's goal with a two on one. Gearoid McCarthy ripped the first shot low and hard but he was denied well by Clifford who dove low to deny the shot. To the chagrin of the Kerry keeper however, the rebound squirted across the goal mouth straight into the path of Kevin Smith who easily slotted it home. Cavan found the goal they needed and still had five minutes to pull back the remaining two points. It wasn't to be however as Kerry controlled possession late and effectively denied Cavan another decent scoring opportunity, while dropping over another two scores.
Kerry: S. Clifford D. Courtney P. McGill A. Glacken D. Lyng E. O'Mahoney N. Corbett A. Donovan M.J. Fitzgerald K. Walshe R. Donovan V. Gavin A. O'Donoghue D. Foley D. Moore SUBS P. SmithCavan: M. Power P. Lambe A. Carolan K. Martin D. McCarthy K. Cardin R. McGinley S. Harold P. McCullough P. Smith K. Smith B. McGinn B. McCarthy J. O'Halloran G. McCarthy. Man of the Match: Kevin Walshe
Astoria Triumph In Lackluster Match
This certainly wasn't a match for the footballing purists as Astoria and Sligo fired lots of blanks throughout the sixty minutes. When Thomas Fahey had blown his final whistle, both sides had combined for well over 20 wides. Astoria played the better of the football when it mattered, scoring 1-5 over the final ten minutes to steal away a match that Sligo never looked deserving to win. Astoria's Robbie Moran opened the scoring putting over a free just after two minutes. The Yeats County was quick to respond as Trevor Boland split the uprights after a strong, penetrating run through the heart of the Astoria defense. Sligo continued to look strong as they had the run of the midfield and applied plenty of pressure toward the Astoria goal. Unfortunately they would be plagued through out the day with some startling shooting.
Three times Sligo earned a free inside the forty and three times their effort sailed wide. Their attempts from play didn't fair much better as two short efforts missed their target. Astoria hadn't managed a shot since their first point, but they found themselves ahead after 16 minutes when Alan McDonoghue was on target with a long effort. Sligo seemed galvanized when they went behind as they finally righted the ship and started putting over some of their scoring chances. The final ten minutes of the half saw the Connacht men put together a nice spell as they put over a brace before ending the half with a trifecta of scores. Trevor Boland's second score of the match leveled things, while Padraig Clarke's first pushed Sligo back out in front. After a John Keaveney point for Astoria, Sligo rattled off three consecutive scores. John Walsh was on target from fourteen yards, Padraig Clarke curled over a short and Aiden Elliot made it 0-6 to 0-3 with a tough angled shot. Sligo's strong finish to the half seemed to indicate that their earlier shooting woes may have been behind them, but the second half would see the Black and Whites completely lose the plot.
Although the first point of the half arrived early, via Astoria's Alan McDonoghue, both squads would embark on a horrendous run of form. Sligo's first half shooting problems reemerged in a big way as they missed a number of golden opportunities to extend their lead. Astoria were no better as they were also guilty of some wayward efforts. The match remained 0-6 to 0-4 in favor of Sligo for almost twenty minutes before Astoria came to life. Talisman Robbie Moran spearheaded the rival as he ended Astoria's dry spell with a nice point after an assist from Mark Dobbin. Moran had the match level two minutes later when he sent over a twenty yard free after Sean Kelly was taken down illegally.
The Gaels were in front with five minutes left when Mark Dobbin pointed for the first time in the game. Sligo hadn't scored since the first half, yet they would respond in devastating fashion from the next kick out. The ball was picked up in the middle of the park and sent long towards the Astoria goal where it was eventually knocked in the direction of Padraig Clarke who couldn't miss from the door step.
The force was with Astoria late however as they quickly and ruthlessly pulled Sligo back and delivered a goal of their own. The Gaels hit for 1-2 over the final one hundred and twenty seconds with Mark Dobbin's deflected goal proving to be the final nail in the coffin.
Sligo: D. Flemming F. Bannon D. Kilkenny P. Brennan P. Flynn A. Carowin B. Boyle M. Reynolds J. Clarke G. Flynn T. Boland C. Bannon J. Walsh P. Clarke A. ElliotAstoria: P. Ryan A. Foley D. White F. Murphy M. Galvin S. Reilly M. Dobbin R. Moran B. Geraghty D. Sullivan S. Sweeney J. Keaveney L. Farrell A. McDonough N. Allen SUBS D. McKennaMan of the Match: Robbie Moran