This past Friday, Kerry FC hosted Finn Harps in Mounthawk Park. Kerry who are still searching for the first win of the season desperately wanted the three points going into the game and knew they needed goals fast. Kerry FC manager Billy Dennehy provided his most attacking and youthful side yet in the lead up to the game.
In his programme notes he called on the Kerry support and asked them to be as loud as possible to help the team get over the line and give the players that bit more of an adrenaline boost. He noted that they were on the back of another good performance but not the result they wanted and
hoped to do one better on the night. He also mentioned and welcomed back Daniel Okwute to Mounthawk Park. Daniel played underage soccer for Kerry FC before getting a move to Stockport County in England. He is now with Finn Harps on a loan deal and came into the game following a goal against Waterford FC Friday night last.
The opposition lost last week in comfortable fashion away to Waterford FC but would be hoping to bounce back at Kerry’s expense. Kerry FC knew from a similar loss at the hands of Galway United that the response in the next game is particularly important, so they were hoping of starting the game strong to put both they’re and the Mounthawk faithful’s minds at ease.
Kerry started the first half with a fair share of the possession and showed the quality of youth with constant pressure and the use of ferocious energy on and off the ball. There were very few chances in the first fifteen minutes of the game until a free kick from Finn Harps keeper Tim-Oliver Hiemer in his own area is brought down and controlled very well by Michael Harris. He beats a couple of defenders, and his long-range effort went just high and wide over the bar.
After that opportunity, Harps started to control the play for a period of the game, but Kerry started to creep their way back in with a couple of threats on the Finn Harps goal. The first of which came for Sean Mcgrath who found space from a great dispossession in an area of menace for Harps’s defence. He played the ball through to Leo Gaxha but his effort did not trouble Hiemer and went wide of the right post. It was easily visible to the crowd here in Mounthawk that Kerry started to metaphorically knock on the Finn Harps door. Another opportunity went begging when a loose ball dropped for Ryan Kelliher just outside the penalty area, his half-volley was struck with strength and pace and was somehow gathered again by Hiemer.
Kerry showed a couple of signs of vulnerability in their time of dominance, however. A long-range shot from Ellis Farrar was blocked and the deflection nearly went through to Daniel Okwute. But before he could act on it, Wayne Guthrie came off his line to gather the ball.
Kerry started to play some good football again and eventually got their reward. A high ball just outside the area was controlled superbly by Ryan Kelliher, he looked up and gave an inverted ball into the left side of the box to Leo Gaxha. He had acres of space and plenty of time to find
Sean Mcgrath who placed the ball into the back of the net giving Kerry a deserved lead at halftime.
Kerry leading at the break gave them great confidence going into the second half and they had a large amount of the ball for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. At stages Harps started to ease their way back into the game. Their first chance of the second half came when a good low shot from Ryan Flood just to the left side of the box needed a good reaction save which Guthrie was able to comply. His save went out for a corner and the set-piece taken again by Flood was swept towards goal by the wind and hit the bar. The ball eventually went wide but it would have been a crazy yet harsh goal for the Kingdom to concede.
Kerry’s best opportunity to extend their lead came through a freekick by the left wing which was won by Leo Gaxha. Gaxha subsequently whipped in the freekick, the ball came back and over inside the box a couple of times until it landed to Sean Kennedy who had is effort dealt with and pushed away for a corner by Hiemer.
Even with that chance, pressure started to mount for Kerry and eventually, Finn Harps went level. A cross-in from Caoimhin Porter was missed by everyone on both sides until Ryan Flood headed back across goal and into the bottom corner.
Very few chances were created after the equaliser and the game became very scrappy, with both sides getting a few yellow cards each. Finn Harps even looked like they could go on and win the game as Kerry couldn’t seem to get out of their own half and the Donegal side kept on pressing.
However, Kerry FC were able to hold on and pick up another point at home. Going through past results it is easy to see that Mounthawk is a very tough place to play, which will give Kerry a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season’s home games.
The Kingdom are on the road again next week as they head to the regional sports centre to take on Waterford FC who are in good form, but Kerry will go into that game in high spirits after a well-deserved point they picked up this bank holiday weekend.
Kerry Fc Team:
1. Wayne Guthrie (C), 2. Rob Vasiu, 18. Samuel Aladesanusi, 15. Kevin Williams, 22. Cian Barrett, 23. Ronan Teahan, 24. Jonathan Hannafin, 10, Leo Gaxha, 9. Ryan Kelliher, 7. Sean Mcgrath (Goal ‘36), 11. Sean Kennedy.
Subs: Callan Scully, Shane Guthrie, Sean O’connell, Matt Keane, Alex Ainscough, Trpimir Vrljicak, Cian Brosnan, Kennedy Amechi, Cormac Buckley.
Finn Harps Team:
1. Tim Heimer, 4. Daithi Mccallion, 6. Noe Baba, 7. Ryan Flood (Goal ‘67), 9. Filip Da Silva, 10. Michael Harris (Katlego Mashigo ‘62), 11. Seamas Keogh, 14. Caoimhin Porter (Kevin Jordan ‘80), 18. Ellis Farrar, 19. Daniel Okwute, 22. Ryan Rainey (C)