Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling All Ireland U21 B Championship Semi-Final – Kerry 0-13 Roscommon 0-12

Kerry stumble past Rossies

By Damian Stack at Toomevara, County Tipperary for the Kerryman newspaper

Wednesday August 24 2011

ALL IRELAND UNDER 21 B HURLING SEMI-FINAL

KERRY………………………..0-13 ROSCOMMON……………..0-12

IT was as close as the scoreline suggests. Even closer if that’s even possible. Kerry were very much on the rack in the last ten minutes of this game. Hanging on as Roscommon finally got the bit between their teeth and played far better hurling than either side had been able to produce up to then. Had the game gone on another minute or two then Seamus Qualter’s men have would surely secured a draw and extra time and the way things were going and with the kind of form John Coyne was showing having been moved from centre to full-forward, the Rossies could have dumped Kerry from the competition.

When John Meyler spoke after the game he spoke of disappointment. An understandable reaction. On paper – and yes we know games aren’t won on paper – this looked a pretty formidable Kerry side, but it simply didn’t fire. Certain players had fine games, but as a unit they just didn’t perform. A lot of that, one suspects, is down to the fact that this was Kerry’s first game at this grade this season. Roscommon had a Connacht championship campaign under their belts. It told. They were generally the sharper, more tidy bunch of hurlers.

They weren’t exactly flush with quality forwards – only Coyne really shone for them up front – but they were still more economical and got more out of their attacks than Kerry did. Shane Nolan wasn’t at his best – in fairness to the Crotta youngster he was carrying a knock into this game – but even so you would have expected guys like Colm Harty and, especially, Ronan Kenny to step up to the mark. Harty is only finding his way back into hurling at this level following a bad long term injury, but for Kenny, a member for two years of Meyler’s senior set-up, to fail to make an impact is more difficult to explain. It’s frustrating for both himself and for Meyler. He’s going to have to use the final to prove that he’s the good hurler we suspect he might be.

Still there were plenty of positives for Kerry in this game. Anthony Fealy was a rock at centre-back, while the full-back line was impervious – Brian Murphy dominated, while James O’Connor and Jason Bowler, the captain, both played blinders alongside him. Neither side impressed in the first half. It was slow. It was stop start. It was foul and free ridden. Only four of the ten points scored in the first half was from play – two for Coyne, one for Nolan and one for a reasonably impressive Sean Weir.

Kerry led at the break by two and the second half continued in a similar fashion. Tit for tat. A pointed free from Nolan here, a pointed free from Coyne there with neither Kerry pulling away or Roscommon coming too close until those closing exchanges. The furthest Kerry got away from Roscommon was three clear with ten minutes to play. It was, observers felt, enough of a lead to secure Kerry victory given that Roscommon didn’t look like scoring freely or didn’t look like scoring an all important goal.

Maybe that’s why Kerry faded so much in those last ten minutes. Maybe they felt they had the job done. They hadn’t. The Rossies piled on the pressure and were it not for the performance of the full-back line and the simply trojan efforts of PJ Keane at midfield – he was everywhere for Kerry in the second half, roaring into the game after a disappointing opening thirty – they would have been caught. They weren’t caught, however. They’ve got time to put things right between here and the final against Westmeath. Time to welcome Darragh O’Connell back into the fold, but alas not Padraig Boyle who’s out long term it seems. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Bright spots for Kerry for sure, but plenty of work to be done.

KERRY: Martin Stackpoole, James O’Connor, Brian Murphy, Jason Bowler, Patrick O’Keeffe, Anthony Fealy, Jason Leahy, PJ Keane, Brendan Brosnan, Sean Weir (0-1), Ronan Kenny, Colm Harty (0-1), Pa Joe Connolly (0-2), Shane Nolan (0-8 7f), Brian Leen Subs: Stephen Leen (0-1) for B Leen, Sean Dowling for R Kenny

ROSCOMMON: Conor Fitzgibbon, Kieran Dowd, Peter Kelleghan, Declan Leonard, Declan Dowling, Brian Donnelly, Niall Keenan, Alan Moore, Gerard Gill, Eamon Mulry ( 0-1), John Coyne ( 0-10, 6f), Eamon Bannon, Jamie Lawlor, Naos Connaughton, Eamon Kenny (0-1) Subs: Cormac Kelly for N Connaughton, Cillian Egan for G Gill

REFEREE: Michael O’Connor (Limerick)

Team News

The Kerry U21 hurling team to play Roscommon on Saturday August 20th is as follows –

1. Martin Stackpoole (Lixnaw) , 2. James O Connor (Abbeydorney), 3. Brian Murphy (Causeway) 4. Jason Bowler, Captain (Ballyduff) 5. Patrick O Keefe (Glenflesk) 6. Anthony Fealy (Causeway) 7. Jason Leahy (Causeway) 8. PJ Keane (Abbeydorney) 9. Brendan Brosnan (Lixnaw) 10. Sean Weir (Crotta O’Neills) 11. Ronan Kenny (Ballyheigue) 12. Colm Harty (Causeway) 13. Pa Joe Connolly (Ballyduff) 14. Shane Nolan (Crotta O’Neills) 15. Brian Leen (Abbeydorney)

Subs – Nicholas Leen (Ballyduff), Stephen Leen (Ardfert), Sean Dowling (Kilmoyley), Thomas Quill (Crotta O’Neills), Conor Fitzelle (Kilmoyley), Adam White (Causeway), Micheal O Sullivan (Kilgarvan), Anthony Carroll (Ballyduff), Kevin Orpen (Ardfert), Daire O’Sullivan (Kilmoyley)

Management – Bainisteoir John Meyler Trainer Joe O’Connor Maor Foirne Frank Flannery Selector John Hennessey Selector Sean O’Shea Physiotherapist Trudy Tait