Kerry enjoy a first win away to Down
BEFORE yesterday's 0-14 to 0-8 away win for Kerry, the best league result the Kingdom have mustered in Newry was a draw in the 1980s.
Admittedly, meetings have been sporadic but still, for a Kerry team licking its wounds after losing at home to Armagh three weeks ago, it was an added tonic.
Defeat for Kerry was never in question though. Down manager James McCartan did his best to dress it up afterwards, crediting the fact that his team had conceded no goals after shipping four in Cork the last day.
But it was small comfort when their main attacking architects were far too peripheral. Benny Coulter made no impact while Danny Hughes (pictured), admittedly making his way back from injury, contributed only fleetingly.
Kerry's league campaign is very much back on track. "We weren't happy with the way we played against Armagh, we were very disappointed, so above everything else we wanted to put in a performance, up our attitude and our work-rate and I think we achieved that," said Jack O'Connor, who felt the victory would be "good for morale."
The big tactical adjustment for Kerry was the deployment of Kieran Donaghy at wing-forward with Declan O'Sullivan at full-forward. Overall, it was a success with Donaghy putting serious pressure on the Down kick-out, and getting back to make important interceptions.
Murphy's early goal is vital for Donegal
Michael Murphy's blistering goal after just 12 seconds proved vital for Donegal as they picked up their first points of the current campaign with a gritty 1-7 to 0-6 victory over Cork at MacCumhaill Park.
The big full-forward, who had groin surgery in January, fielded a Karl Lacey centre to turn and blast to the net.
"It's been a while coming. I thought we were very deserving winners," said Donegal assistant manager Rory Gallagher.
"Cork were a bit shell-shocked by the opening goal and we should have added a few more points but they were still in it at half-time. They took their chances much better than us."
Donegal's inability to transfer possession into scores became worrying and they also had to pull Murphy out around midfield to gain parity in that area. But it was Murphy who levelled on 47 minutes with the point of the game with his left boot.
Then Murphy put them back in front from a '45', and they never looked back with Colm McFadden, Karl Lacey and newcomer Martin O'Reilly pushing them clear.
"It was very disappointing," said Cork manager Conor Counihan. "In fairness to Donegal, they shut us down well."
Mayo trip up Armagh
MAYO ended Armagh's unbeaten start in Division 1 with a clinical performance.
Three Alan Freeman points and an Andy Moran goal helped Mayo lead 1-4 to 0-0 at the Athletic Grounds. Armagh replied with four unanswered points but Mayo regained control to lead 1-7 to 0-6 at half-time. Mayo extended their lead to 1-11 to 0-6 and while Armagh replied with five straight points, the Connacht side hit the last three scores of the match for a 1-14 to 0-11 away win.
Mayo manager James Horan, faced as he is with five matches spanning as many weeks, will certainly not be drawing any false comfort from this rather unexpected fillip.
"We got off to a great start and finished very well, but Armagh lost two of their most experienced players to injury and this did not help their cause," he said.
"However, it's encouraging, nonetheless, to get this win although we have very difficult challenges ahead."