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Kerry FC v Wexford FC

Match Report – Kerry FC v Wexford FC

SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division – Matchday 22

Kerry FC 1-1 Wexford FC

By: Ivan Hurley

Kerry were back in Mounthawk Park following the summer recces in the League of Ireland season, welcoming the South-Easterners to a wet and windy Tralee on one of the final June nights of the year. Unseasonable weather aside, a large Kerry contingent packed into Mounthawk Park to see an inform Kerry FC side look to build on 3 wins in a row in their home ground over recent weeks.

In a fiery encounter that produced a number of cards, it could have been anyone’s guess as to where the 3 points were headed in the opening stages. Thomas Oluwa should have had the hosts 1-0 up inside the opening 120 seconds. A looping ball over the top of the defence was met by the onrushing attacker, the woodwork coming to Kerry’s rescue early on as his shot whacked the base of the upright.

It took Kerry a number of minutes to settle into the game and could have gone in front after 10 minutes. A lovely weighted free kick by Sean O’Connell was met by the head of Ryan Kelliher at the back post but he nodded it just wide of Moody’s left-hand post. A number of half chances for both sides continued the half in the same vein. A Nathan Gleeson cross on 20 minutes was nearly met by an onrushing Kennedy Amechi, but the ball was just behind him on this occasion. Headers from Ethan Boyle and Kian Corbally came close for the visitors, keeping Kerry honest throughout the opening half. One of the last chances of the half once again fell to Amechi. He hit a low driving shot at Moody who saved well. The rebound fell to Kelliher whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. So the sides went in scoreless at the break, leaving supporters scratching their heads as to how nobody managed to find the breakthrough in the opening 45.

But fans didn’t have long to wait for the opening goal of the night. McCarthy was dispossessed in the middle of the park allowing Mickie Rowe time to look up. He played a neat pass down the win to Oluwa who used all his pace to shrug off Kos and score a well-worked goal for the side pushing for a playoff spot. O’Sullivan got down well but could do nothing in a one-on-one situation.

But Kerry responded well to going one behind. Amechi came close with a speculative effort from 30 yards. Moody was at full stretch but the ball agonisingly went just to the wrong side of the far post. In an end-to-end encounter, Ethan Boyle came close moments later, O’Sullivan gathering his tame effort at the near post. It’s hard to know how Kerry didn’t equalise in the 60th minute. Some pinball in the box and last-gasp defending from Wexford as they somehow managed to keep the ball out of the net. The referee waved away any potential handball calls from the Kerry players, booking Kevin Williams in the process for his appeals.

Just 10 minutes later, William’s was heading for an early shower as a tangle in the middle of the park with Oluwa saw the right back pick up a second yellow. An uphill task for Kerry to salvage a point with 20 minutes to go.

But to be fair to the Kingdom, they looked the most likely to score following the red card. Kelliher came close on the 75th minute, his shot was dragged just wide of the post while 3 minutes later, Okwute’s shot across goal just needed someone to tap it home at the back post.

A mix up at the back between Andy Spain and Aaron O’Sullivan led to Dobbs being in one-on-one but the Wexford attacker dragged his effort just wide of the mark. Up the other end, Daniel Okwute did well to find himself in a one-on-one situation of his own but Moody did really well to save with his outstretched legs.

As the 4th Official indicated 7 additional minutes, hopes of a result were beginning to fade for the home faithful. But cometh the hour, cometh the man. Okwute found himself in possession on the right hand side and his low cross was belted home by Ryan Kelliher, the Killarney man netting his 4th goal in 3 games for Kerry.

So a dramatic end see’s Kerry share the spoils with 10 men against a Wexford side who left Mounthawk Park thinking ‘what if’. The second of 2 Thursday night fixtures in 2024 sees the Kingdom make the long journey to the North West to take on Finn Harps in county Donegal, with kick-off at 19:45

Kerry FC: Aaron O’Sullivan, Kevin Williams, Andy Spain, Ethan Kos, Seán O’Connell, Ronan Teahan, Dáire McCarthy, Seán McGrath, Nathan Gleeson, Ryan Kelliher, Kennedy Amechi

Subs: Daniel Okwute for N Gleeson, 60, Samuel Aladesansui for S McGrath, 77, Cian Brosnan for S O’Connell, 83

Wexford FC: Alex Moody, Reece Webb, Carl Lennox, Seán McHale, James Crawford, Kian Corbally, Ethan Boyle, Darragh Levingston, Mikie Rowe, Thomas Oluwa, Cian Curtis

Subs: Aaron Dobbs for C Curtis, 59, Mark Hanratty for K Corbally, 76, Luka Lovic for M Rowe, 76, Aaron Robinson for T Oluwa, 81