It was an historic occasion at Mounthawk Park on Friday night as Kerry FC and Treaty United faced off for the first time in the newest Munster derby to the League of Ireland. The sides shared the spoils with Sean Kennedy giving the home side an early lead before Enda Curran replied for the visitors in the first half which means both are now off the mark for the 2023 season.
Both sides made changes with Nathan Gleeson coming in to lead the Kerry attack in the solitary change made by Billy Dennehy. Treaty made two changes with Steven Christopher and Conor Winn dropping out of the squad with Shane Hallahan making his debut in goal and Dean George returning to the starting 11.
Kerry took an early lead when the lively Leo Gaxha beat Ben O’Riordan on the left-hand side and his front post cross found opposite winger Sean Kennedy who beat Marc Ludden to the ball to poke home from close range.
Treaty were causing problems for Kerry from long throw ins and free-kicks in the early stages and from the second phase of a free-kick, Dean George’s shot was saved by Guthrie. Midway through the first period, a clever flick by Enda Curran into the path of Willie Armshaw resulted in a one-two but Curran mishit his shot inside the area and it sailed harmlessly wide.
After half an hour, a long searching ball from Anto O’Donnell was latched onto by Conor Barry and his strike was saved before falling into the path of the awaiting Enda Curran who tapped home to score his first goal of the season. Kerry goalkeeper Wayne Guthrie came a long way from his goal to clear a ball over the top but the clearance only fell to George whose effort skewed wide when he looked certain to place the ball into an empty net, although the former Athlone man was under pressure.
The Armshaw-Curran combination almost added a second for Treaty when Armshaw squared for his teammate but former Treaty man Matt Keane tracked back and cleared off the line. Right on the stroke of half-time, neat footwork from Kerry playmaker Sean McGrath allowed the attacking midfielder a sight of goal but it was comfortably saved by Hallahan.
At half-time, Treaty boss Tommy Barrett made a substitution as Ben O’Riordan was replaced by Colin Conroy and subsequently Mark Walsh was moved to right-back with Conroy supporting Curran.
Kerry midfielder and former Regional United man Andy Quaid was walking a tightrope since the first half as he was on a yellow card and he was duly sent off for a second booking on the hour mark. Dennehy had been planning on replacing Quaid at the next break in play which was more frustrating for the home side.
Armshaw picked up possession on the edge of the Kerry box and his lofted cross was met by Curran who nodded the ball back into the centre of the goal but substitute Alec Byrne failed to get a touch and Guthrie cleared. Another goalmouth scramble ensued moments later as Anto O’Donnell looked ready to tap into the net only for the intervention of Guthrie once again the Kerry goal.
On the 72nd minute, Gaxha had the best chance of the second half as his run was perfectly picked out by Keane but the former Sheffield United man fired wide when he looked destined to score in a one on one situation. With ten minutes remaining, Conor Barry had an effort which travelled wide while substitute Martin Coughlan’s header was gathered by Guthrie.
It was a frustrating night for Treaty who spurned a couple of big chances to gain their first three points of the campaign whereas Kerry will be quite satisfied to pick up their first point in the League of Ireland especially considering they played the last 30 minutes with ten men.
Treaty will now play their first home game in three weeks when they host Cobh Ramblers at the Markets Field next Friday while Kerry travel to Eamon Deacy Park to take on Galway United.
Kerry FC: Wayne Guthrie, Kevin Williams, Shane Guthrie (Graham O’Reilly 62), Kalen Spillane, Sean O’Connell, Matt Keane, Andy Quaid, Sean McGrath (Ronan Teahan 65), Sean Kennedy, Leo Gaxha, Nathan Gleeson (Cian Brosnan 76)
Treaty United: Shane Hallahan, Ben O’Riordan (Colin Conroy H/T), Andy Spain, Anthony O’Donnell, Marc Ludden, Lee Devitt, Mark Walsh, Conor Barry (Martin Coughlan 82), Willie Armshaw (Alec Byrne 68), Dean George (Success Edogun 76), Enda Curran (Colin Kelly 82)