MICHAEL MURPHY’S last-gasp free rescued a draw for Donegal in a pulsating Super 8 clash at Croke Park.
Donegal 1-20 Kerry 1-20
Report by Chris McNulty at Croke Park. Pictures by Evan Logan
Murphy scored 1-7 in his 150th game for Donegal and that late leveller was the seventh time from the 59th minute that the teams were on an even keel.
It was Murphy who netted the 52nd minute penalty that helped Donegal recover from the body blow of a Paul Geaney goal for Kerry on 44 minutes that threatened to derail Declan Bonner’s depleted charges.
Ciaran Thompson and Caolan Ward got their wires crossed and Geaney was on the loose ball like a flash. Geaney surged in to beat Shaun Patton with a fine finish to the bottom corner of the Hill 16 net.
Two Murphy frees – both of which the Glenswilly man converted from around 50 metres – had just put Donegal in front for the first time since the 10th minute when Geaney’s goal arrived like a dose of smelling salts.
Donegal had points from Oisin Gallen and Patrick McBrearty to shake their heads clear and, after Daire Ó Baoill was fouled by Stephen O’Brien, Murphy rolled home a penalty. Advantage Donegal.
Remarkably, O’Brien escaped without sanction.
Three times, Kerry pulled level, with O’Brien arching over five minutes from the end and David Clifford pushed the Kingdom into the lead again.
Donegal were left to rue a spurned chance when, in the moments after Murphy’s penalty, Eoin McHugh – fed by Frank McGlynn – saw goal chalked off for a square ball infringement.
The game seesawed from then to the finish when, finally, Murphy arched over a free to pull the embers from the fire in the most frenetic of conclusions in front of 48,293 at headquarters.
Kerry sub Tomás Ó Sé was red carded deep into added time at the end, just a minute after coming on.
Seán O’Shea’s free, with the last kick of the opening half, two minutes into added time, sent Kerry into the break with a 0-10 to 0-9 lead.
In some ways, Donegal were fortunate with the Kingdom spurning two big goal chances during the opening half-an-hour.
Donegal had goalkeeper Patton to thank as he denied David Clifford, who sped onto an O’Shea pass in the 11th minute. Clifford seemed set to clip home, but Patton’s deft touch deflected it away for a ’45.
When Patton batted a dropping ball into Gavin White’s path in the 26th minute, the gates opened, but Kerry couldn’t convert. Paul Geaney blazed over the top with Patton off his line.
Donegal suffered a hammer blow during the week with 2018 All-Star nominee Eoghan Ban Gallagher breaking his ankle on Wednesday night in training.
Gallagher was in flying form and would have relished a crack at Croke Park’s expanses.
2012 All-Ireland winning defenders Paddy McGrath and Neil McGee were also absent from the Donegal panel due to injury.
McGrath was a late withdrawal from last Sunday’s nine-point win over Meath and was joined on the injured list by veteran McGee.
The absentees – which were added to by the enforced withdrawal of Jason McGee after just 24 minutes – certainly didn’t help Donegal’s cause and it was inevitable that it took them some time to find their way.
Kerry led 0-5 to 0-3 after 20 minutes, but a delightful attempt by Ryan McHugh – who gave an outstanding display from start to finish – from outside the D sparked Donegal to life.
McHugh landed another and Michael Murphy flicked over off his lesser-used left foot to being the teams level.
Patrick McBrearty – making his 50th Championship appearance – found his range to boom over a brace that levelled it again, but Donegal’s numbers were dented again when Niall O’Donnell was very harshly black-carded just before the changeover, referee Paddy Neilan deeming him guilty of a high challenge on Paul Murphy.
With the numbers already low, it forced Bonner into another unnecessary change, but his replacement, Oisin Gallen, kicked two points in the second half, including one off an upright during those chaotic concluding few minutes when the game was anyone’s and then no-one’s.
Scorers for Donegal: Michael Murphy 1-7 (1-0pen, 4f), Patrick McBrearty 0-5 (3f), Ryan McHugh, Michael Langan, Oisin Gallen 0-2 each, Jason McGee, Niall O’Donnell 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: Paul Geaney 1-4, Seán O’Shea 0-4 (3f), David Clifford (1f), Killian Spillane, Stephen O’Brien 0-3 each, Paul Murphy, Tom O’Sullivan, Jason Foley 0-1 each
Donegal: Shaun Patton; Caolan Ward, Stephen McMenamin, Odhrán McFadden-Ferry; Ryan McHugh, Eamonn Doherty, Eoin McHugh; Hugh McFadden, Jason McGee; Ciarán Thompson, Niall O’Donnell, Michael Langan; Patrick McBrearty, Michael Murphy, Jamie Brennan. Subs: Daire Ó Baoill for McGee (24), Oisin Gallen for O’Donnell (black card, 35), Frank McGlynn for McFadden (38), Paul Brennan for Doherty (47), Brendan McCole for McFadden-Ferry (63), Leo McLoone for Thompson (69).
Kerry: Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan; Paul Murphy, Gavin Crowley, Shane Enright; Adrian Spillane, Diarmuid O’Connor; Gavin White, Seán O’Shea, Killian Spillane; David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Stephen O’Brien. Subs: Jonathan Lyne for White (black card, 34), Jack Sherwood for O’Connor (44), Mark Griffin for Enright (56), Graham O’Sullivan for Crowley (63), Micheál Burns for A.Spillane (68), Tomás Ó Sé for K.Spillane (70+3).
Referee: Paddy Neilan (Roscommon)Tags: