Kerry's superb second-half takes them to a minor five in-a-row
All-Ireland MFC final: Kerry 0-21 Galway 1-14
STRONG starts and finishes to both halves ensured a first ever Minor Football five-in-a-row by another excellent Kerry side.
In a slightly strange final, in which Galway reeled off 1-7 without reply in the first half, the teams were level on seven occasions, but the Kingdom scored five of the last six points to pull clear to victory.
Indeed Kerry overwhelmed the Tribeslads in the second period, outscoring them by 13 points to five, to reverse the four-point deficit by which they had trailed at the interval.
Kerry boss Peter Keane was understandably delighted with the victory, and agreed with the suggestion that it was ‘a sweet win’, mostly because it was a first for many of his team, rather than a fifth: “Yes, on two fronts. Firstly, because of the way the match went. Secondly, it is a brand new team," he said.
“We weren't coming here like we had for the past few years when you had the strength of a Hogan Cup and they were back-boning your team or whatever. This was pure new in every sense of the word, that is probably what made it doubly so…
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“[Corner-forward] Dylan Geaney is 16, five years ago he was 11, bring it back to an older day and he would have been lifted over the stile coming into that game. That has no bearing on five-in-a-row.”
A fellow Kerryman [Gerry Grogan] had said pre-match over the stadium PA system that Kerry were aiming for history, although Keane was able to laugh that pressure off afterwards: “He did not? Bad enough having everyone on top of me bar another Cahirciveen man on top of my back!”
Young Geaney was just one on a long list of famous Kerry surnames on this side, reminders of senior stars of past and present – along with Fitzgerald, McCarthy, Murphy, Rahilly, Lyne, Walsh, O’Shea, O Beaglaoich, O’Donoghue, Kennelly, and O’Connor.
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This particular panel won’t all go on to hit the heights, of course, but their annexation of the Tom Markham Cup for half a decade will surely help Kerry challenge the dominance of Dublin in the near future.
Galway boss Donal O Fatharta praised the victors: “Hats off to Kerry. We knew they were a super team, we were trying to get our guys ready.
“Every team is beatable, but they had a little more quality than us definitely, all over the pitch. Some of our guys played beyond where they were at the start of the year. Look it, disappointed. When you are beaten by a better team, it is easier to take.”
However, he did rue the fact that Galway only got one goal from a few first half chances: “Every game we have played this year, our stats guys are telling us, scoring chances created: ‘loads’.
“That was the message all week that if we were going to take these guys, we had to take our chances. We didn’t take them in the first-half.
“Aidan Halloran was in on the side, [Eoghan] Tinney had a chance, the one that came across the goal. We had a spell and then Kerry came back and got a couple of points to stay within touching distance.
“Even at the start of the second-half, I thought we held them out well. Kerry had a few wides and were a little bit panicky. That was the time, too, to push on, but we couldn’t manage it.”
Galway had started superbly, wing-back Ryan Monahan pointing inside 18 seconds, but while they were wasteful after that, Kerry got going in some style.
Indeed with eight minutes gone the Kingdom were 4-1 up, thanks to the placed ball kicking of skipper Paul O’Shea and fine points from Dan McCarthy and Paul Walsh. The latter was eye-catching not only for his ‘Mick Hucknall/Sideshow Bob’ hairstyle but his powerful running too.
Kerry were also strong in the tackle early on, but Galway began to get a grip around the middle and to deliver better ball into their attackers. However, even they could hardly hope to reel off the next eight scores, including a 24th minute goal from centre half-back Tony Gill, who coolly slotted in after full-forward Daniel Cox’s shot was blocked by Kerry ’keeper Mark Kelliher.
The Glenflesk clubman had denied Galway corner-forward Eoghan Tinney a goal on the quarter-hour when he tried to palm in a pass across by Aidan Halloran, but the Tribeslads were so on top that Liam Judge had time to fumble then re-gather the ball before giving them a 1-8 to 0-4 advantage.
Kerry finally responded, with four of the last five scores before the break, wing-forward Killian Falvey, registering twice. Still, they were no doubt relieved to go in just four behind, 0-8 to 1-9, after the lively Cathal Sweeney shot straight at Kelliher, although Galway captain Conor Raftery did convert his second point from play from the loose ball.
That closing Kerry dominance continued after the teams turned around, with the holders adding the next five scores to re-take the lead, 0-13 to 1-9. In that same period, Galway spurned a goal chance, Aidan Halloran bending a rebound wide, and Cooley also dropped a free short.
In contrast, Kerry’s corner-forwards got on the scoresheet at last, with one from the tall Michael Lenihan followed by a double from Dylan Geaney.
Galway hadn’t given up the ghost, though, and they were back in front when sub Tomo Culhane scored at the three-quarter mark, but they could never get ahead after that. Instead Kerry, who always looked the more physically imposing outfit, took full control in added time.
Kerry replacement Ruaidhri O Beaglaoich was influential in the final quarter, adding three points from play. It would probably have been fitting had Jack O’Connor completed the scoring, and the sub did convert a free, but Falvey had the final say by bringing his tally to four.
Kerry: M Kelliher; C Flannery, O Fitzgerald, D Mangan; C Moriarty, D McCarthy (0-1), D Murphy; D Rahilly (0-3), D Lyne, P Walsh (0-4, 0-1 free), P O’Shea (capt.) (0-2, 0-1 ‘45’, 0-1 free), K Falvey (0-4); D Geaney (0-2), P D’Arcy, M Lenihan (0-1); Substitutes: R O Beaglaoich (0-3) for D’Arcy (42); K O’Donoghue for Mangan (54); J Kennelly for Lenihan (55); J O’Connor (0-1 free) for Walsh (63).
Galway: D Halloran; E Walsh, S Black, C Deane; R Monahan (0-1), T Gill (1-0), C Sweeney; P Kelly (0-1), C Rafterty (capt.) (0-2); L Judge (0-1), A Halloran, S Horkan; E Tinney (0-1), D Cox, M Cooley (0-5, 0-4 frees); Substitutes: O McCormack for Horkan (39); T Culhane (0-2) for Cox (45); O Gormley (0-1) for A Halloran (47); C Halbard for Sweeney (51, inj.); C Hernon for Judge (55); E McCormack for Cooley (64); Blood sub: Culhane for Cox (18-20).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).