Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

McGeeney feels final heartache

U-21 All Ireland Championship Final

Kildare senior team boss Kieran McGeeney did not quite enjoy the bonus he might have expected when the county's Under-21 side lost their All Ireland Championship final against a fired-up Kerry at Semple Stadium, Thurles.

McGeeney, in his first season in charge of Kildare, saw the Kingdom carry too much class and drive in carving out a handsome 2-12 to 0-11 victory.

Kerry's success has already spawned the belief that several members of this side will now make the breakthrough at senior level and help to extend their custody of the Sam Maguire Cup even further.

Kildare Under-21 manager Glen Ryan was outwitted on this occasion by his Kerry counterpart Sean Geaney whose attacking strategy led to the Lily Whites downfall.

It was the skilful Mike O'Donoghue who did most to ensure Kerry's success with a goal in each half, both created by his fellow wing-forward Kieran O'Leary. Indeed, after O'Donoghue hit the net for the first time in the 15th minute, Kerry never looked back.

Tommy Walsh, David Moran and Killian Young, all of whom have gained experience with the Kingdom senior team, carried too much polish for the Leinster champions. Yet they still managed to stay in touch at 1-5 to 0-6 at the break thanks to fine scores from Alan Smith and Eoin O'Flaherty in particular.

Kerry, though, moved quickly into top gear after half-time with three successive points, two from Paul O'Connor and an inspirational effort from Moran, before Kildare corner forward Gavin Smullen replied.

But the Lily Whites were always struggling to remain in contention and O'Sullivan's second goal, banged home 12 minutes after half-time, was the killer score as Kerry moved 2-8 to 0-7 in front.

Each side scored four points in the last quarter but by then Kerry, with Moran a midfield colossus and Young marshalling the defence, were in cruise control.

Kerry will now hope that members of this successful team can make the same step up to the senior ranks as players of the calibre of Mike McCarthy, Tom O'Sullivan, Tomás O'Sé, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Noel Kennelly and Mike Frank Russell did following the Kingdom's last Under-21 title triumph in 1998.

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