Stephen Molumphy era ends on a winning note as Kerry see off Meath in Joe McDonagh Cup

JOE McDONAGH CUP (Fifth Round)

Kerry 3-13

Meath 1-10

The Stephen Molumphy era ended on winning note, as his Kerry side secured third-spot in the Joe McDonagh Cup with a comfortable victory over Meath in what was effectively a dead-rubber contest. The Kerry manager stepping aside after a three-year term in charge.

It very much had an end of days feel to it from the off, both sides very much playing like men who knew not a whole pile was at stake beyond pride. It wasn’t the most high-intensity of encounters, a cut above a challenge game, certainly, just not much more than that.

Kerry played with the breeze in the first half, snaffling a pair of goals, before the dismissal of Meath half-back Eoin Donegan on a straight red card just before the half-hour mark effectively ended the tie as a contest.

The Kingdom had 1-1 on the board before Meath had really gotten to grips with the game, the opening score coming from the impressive Gavin Dooley less than sixty seconds in, followed three minutes later by a goal from Michael Leane (assist Brandon Barrett).

Meath got up and running with scores from James Murray, but with the breeze at their backs the green and gold always looked comfortable, even if they did hit eight first-half wides.

Not even a penalty goal by Murray on nine minutes – following a foul on Damien Healy – did much to change the flow of the game, with the Kingdom responding right away through a pair of Barrett frees.

Then on sixteen minutes Kerry’s second goal arrived, courtesy of that man Dooley. Dan Goggin picking up a turnover from a poor puck-out and feeding his fellow Causeway man for the finish – 2-5 to 1-2 now.

Then on the 28th minute Eoin Donegan was sent to the line on a straight red card (for a frontal-collision with Michael Leane), pretty much ending the contest as a meaningful affair at a stroke, despite the Royals having the breeze to come after the break. 2-7 to 1-5 at the short-whistle.

Kerry started the second half with a pair of Barrett frees before Meath got their first point from play in the game on the 45th minute through Murray (still his side's sole scorer at that point of the game, later to be joined by Simon Ennis, Seán Geraghty and Karl Rogers).

The Kingdom’s third goal arrived three minutes later through Gavin Dooley, which put left nine between the sides, 3-10 to 1-7. A pair of points from dual-star Luke Crowley, and the dismissal of Tomás O’Connor with less than ten minutes to go, some of the few other notable aspects of the second half.

The Kingdom running out nine-point winners.

KERRY: Louis Dee, Eric Leen, Dáithí Griffin, Flor McCarthy, Bill Keane, Evan Murphy (0-1), Kyle O’Connor, Ronan Walsh, Colin Walsh, Gavin Dooley (2-3), Dan Goggin (0-1), Killian Hayes, Brandon Barrett (0-4f), Fionán Mackessy (0-2, 1 ‘65), Michael Leane (1-0) Subs: Darragh Shanhan for R Walsh, half-time, Tom Doyle for E Leen, half-time, Luke Crowley (0-2) for C Walsh, half-time, Niall Mulcahy for K Hayes, 45, Tomás O’Connor for F McCarthy, 56, Darragh Kearney for K O’Connor, 67 Temp: Luke Crowley for M Leane, 28-half-time

MEATH: Philip O’Brien, James Kelly, Shane Whitty, Ronan Byrne, Eoin Donegan, Daire Shine, Seán Geraghty (0-1), Ethan Devine, Kris Gorman, James Murray (1-8, 1 pen, 6f), Tom Shine, Damien Healy, David Murtagh, Éamon Óg Ó Donnchadha, Mark Horan Subs: Simon Ennis (0-1) for D Murtagh, half-time, Mickey Burke for E Devine, 49, Niall McLarnon for M Horan, 54, Seán Martin for É Ó Donnchadha, 58, Karl Rogers (0-1) for D Healy, 63

REFEREE: Conor Doyle (Tipperary)

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