HomeFootballKerry edge Royals to secure U-20 final berth

Kerry edge Royals to secure U-20 final berth

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Kerry are into their first U20 All-Ireland Football Championship final in 16 years after a dramatic one-point win over Leinster champions Meath in a sun-soaked FBD Semple Stadium on Saturday.

After they were level three times in the opening half hour, Kerry took the narrowest of leads into the half time break – 0-08 to 0-07, a lead they held to the end despite a late comeback from Meath in this exciting semi-final.

Cormac Dillon top-sored for Kerry with 0-04 while the impressive Jamie Murphy kicked over five of his side’s 11 points in an epic end-to-end game of football between two evenly matched sides.

After Kerry opened the scoring with a wonderful Eddie Healy point inside 30 seconds, Meath surged into a three-point lead with just five minutes on the clock.

However, after a brilliant response from Tomas Ó Sé’s side, Kerry were back on level terms by the 10th minute with Tomas Kennedy, Daniel Kirby, and Dillon kicking over for a determined Kingdom side.

The Munster outfit, who impressed with some good tackling, quality fielding, and an attacking style of football, scored four of the next six points to edge into a two-point advantage.

When Dillon kicked over with eight minutes to go before the break, Kerry went ahead for only the second time before the impressive Luke Crowley put the two between them.

At this stage Meath were 16 minutes without a score before Jamie Murphy kicked over to make it a one-point game heading into the much-needed half-time break after an opening frantic half of football in Thurles.

The Royals, playing in their first U20/U21 championship semi-final in 23 years, started with the same 15 that overcame Louth in the Leinster final almost two weeks ago.

Kerry, meanwhile, made one change to their Munster decider defeat of Cork as Ryan Diggns came in at full back instead of the injured Maidhcí Lynch.

After the restart, both sides were level once more before Kerry edged into a two-point midway through the half when substitute Paddy Lane kicked over with his first touch of the game.

In what was a nervy, low-scoring second half, Kerry could have all but secured the win with 10 minutes left on the clock, but Meath goalkeeper Oisín McDermott pulled off a brilliant point-blank save to deny Tomas Kennedy a certain goal – Kerry’s third real goal chance of the afternoon.

When Jamie Murphy coolly slotted over a free with three minutes to go, the momentum was with the Royal County but Kerry were able to hold on.

Kerry: Michael Tansley; Maidhcí Lynch; Ryan Diggin (0-01), Gearóid Evans; Charlie Keating, Darragh O’Connor, Cian Lynch; Rob Stack, Eddie Healy (0-02); Daniel Kirby (0-01), Odhran Ferris, Tomás Kennedy (0-01); Cormac Dillon (0-04, 0-02f), Aidan Crowley, Luke Crowley (0-02)

Subs: Adam Segal Diggin (35), Cathal Brosnan for Ferris (43), Fionn Murphy for Evans (45), Paddy Lane (0-01) for Aidan Crowley (46), Liam Evans for Daniel Kirby (56)

Meath: Oisín McDermott; Conor Ennis, Liam Kelly (capt.), Sean O’Hare; Eamonn Armstrong, John O’Regan (0-01), Killian Smyth; Jack Kinlough (0-01), Charlie O’Connor (0-01); Shaun Leonard (0-01), Rian Stafford, Conor Duke; Hughie Corcoran (0-02, 0-01f), Jamie Murphy (0-05, 0-03f), Rian McConnell

Subs: Conor McWeeney for Leonard (h/t), Tadgh Martyn for O’Connor, Sean Emmanuel for Stafford (both 43), Brian O’Halloran for Smyth (46), John Harkin for Corcoran (55)

Referee: Thomas Murphy (Galway)

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