Kerry have qualified for the Joe McDonagh Cup Final.
A 2-22 to 1-23 win over Carlow puts the Kingdom into the 1 o’clock decider at Croke Park on December 13th.
Here’s how the dramatic encounter finished-commentary from Mike O’Halloran and Andrew Morrissey
Kerry manager Fintan O’Connor
Brendan Hennessy of KCLR
Kerry playing with the breeze behind them made the first attack on the Carlow goal from the throw-in but Shane Nolan’s effort was forced wide under pressure from the visitors.
Michael Leane opened the scoring from the stick of Michael Leane in wing back, Carlow cancelled it out and nearly scored a goal before Shane Conway and Mikey Boyle (twice) gave Kerry a 3-point lead after 6 minutes.
Then came a hammer blow for Kerry after what looked like a scuffed free from Carlow but the ball found its way forward to Chris Nolan who scored a great goal. A point soon afterwards put Carlow 2 points ahead. Kerry 0-04 Carlow 1-02.
Carlow tagged on a few scores while the Kerry goalkeeper, Martin Stackpoole had to retire with an injury to be replaced by Kilmoyley’s John B O’Halloran.
Another point from a Shane Conway was answered by a Martin Kavanagh free for Carlow to leave it Kerry 0-06 Carlow 1-06 at the water break.
Clearly, the water in Tralee possesses magical powers as Daniel Collins was the man who was first to score after the break with a fine goal for Kerry.
Kerry finished the first half strongly with 4 out of the last 6 points to lead by 2 before Shane Conway’s speculative shot rebounded to Daniel Collins who struck the sliotar to the net just on half-time.
Half-Time: Kerry 2-12 Carlow 1-10
Carlow were forced to shoot from difficult angles thanks to the resilience of the Kerry defence and four attempts to add to their tally in as many minutes of the second half were unsuccessful.
After all the Carlow pressing, Shane Conway, with Kerry’s first effort of the second half, hit the ball over the bar to extend the Kingdom’s lead to six points.
Carlow continued to miss chances and Michael O’Leary punished that wastefulness to put Kerry further in front with a point.
Kerry 2-14 Carlow 1-10
Carlow finally found their range when Chris Nolan pointed from play 12 minutes into the second half and John Nolan followed that with a point less than a minute later.
Kerry won possession from the puck out and Daniel Collins made no mistake with a flick over the bar. Shane Nolan was central to that and much of what went before that for Kerry.
Carlow weren’t beaten yet scoring a few points and almost a goal only for the shot to be brilliantly saved by Kerry’s sub goalie, John Brendan O’Halloran and Carlow pointed from the rebound. Kerry led at the end of the 3rd quarter by 2-15 to 1-15.
Shane Conway restarted play after the water break with a point from a free to put Kerry four points up.
Carlow narrowed the lead to 2 points before Shane Nolan’s great run and pass were rewarded by a point from Padraig Boyle.
Shane Conway added a point soon afterwards to give Kerry a 4-point lead but Carlow wouldn’t give up and they brought it back to a goal with 12 minutes remaining.
Carlow kept chipping away at Kerry’s lead and eventually drew level after 62 minutes and then some indiscipline by Kerry led to a free being moved in and the lead changed hands for the first time since the first half.
Defeat or a draw would not be enough for Kerry and when Carlow went two points up, the Kingdom were under severe pressure to get the result they needed.
Kerry went within a point with a free from Shane Conway and they needed to win possession again for another score which was taken by Shane Nolan.
Kerry 2-20 Carlow 1-23
Carlow had a great chance to regain the lead from a free from Martin Kavanagh with only 2 minutes of normal time to go but he missed!
Shane Conway’s shot to put Kerry ahead went wide heading into four minutes of additional time. Kerry needed a score and that score came from Michael O’Leary.
The Abbeydorney man found the target again to give Kerry a 2-point lead and now it was up to the green and gold to protect it at all costs. Protect it? They did! Time ran out for Carlow and after a tremendous performance from Kerry, the Kingdom are through to the Joe McDonagh Cup Final in Croke Park!
Final Score: Kerry 2-22 (28) Carlow 1-23 (26)