GAA: Kerry record three-point extra-time win over Mayo in All-Ireland semi-final replay
Last Updated: 30/08/14 8:56pm
Kerry are through to their first All-Ireland final since 2011 after a thrilling 3-16 to 3-13 extra-time win over Mayo at the Gaelic Grounds.
After all the controversy about venue and averted suspension that ran through the week, it was again the mesmeric quality of the contest that captivated the crowd of 36,256.
It culminated in extra-time and the end came wrapped in the almost anti-climactic material of three superbly-taken points from replacement Jonathan Lyne, who book-ended the sequence with two, and full-forward Paul Geaney, brought back into the fray for the last 10 minutes.
No-one would stake much value on Mayo not conjuring up something but they were flat out and as the unforgiving minutes made a goal a necessity. Kerry dropped back and shut it out.
There was late drama, with two frees for Mayo but Cillian O’Connor wasn’t able to guide the ball through the thickets in the square as time ticked away.
Worse followed for O’Connor, who kicked out at Killian Young after the second and given a red card.
The free was cancelled, Kerry won the throw-in and celebrated as lustily as they ever have the winning of a semi-final.
It was an electric match, surging one way and then another. Like the drawn encounter in Croke Park six days ago, each side had reason to believe they had broken the back of the other’s challenge.
Kerry surprisingly dropped Tomás Ó Sé before throw-in and brought in Killian Young in defence, while Kieran Donaghy started in place of the injured Stephen O’Brien. Mayo also made changes, with Barry Moran and Andy Moran coming into the starting line-up.
These changes proved significant but Kerry continued to suffer leaks in the full-back line, with Shane Enright having difficulties with Cillian O’Connor. Ó Sé was togging within 22 minutes after the Mayo forward had scored a second goal.
Another trend from the drawn match was the anxieties being caused Mayo by Donaghy. These were deepened by the sheer volume of ball Kerry were able to dispatch into the forwards during the first quarter.
Were it not for some very poor finishing the Munster champions would have been considerably farther in front than 0-2 to 0-1 by the 15th minute.
A slew of wides distorted their almost total domination of possession and attacking territory.
Within minutes the match had turned against them. On 19 minutes Aidan O’Shea drew jeers when what looked like an optimistic shot at a point drifted well wide into the strong wind. But it was held up and dropped for O’Connor, who was taken down by Enright for a penalty, which he converted for 1-1 to 0-2 lead.
O’Connor added a free as Mayo began to find a higher pace and rhythm, and the same combination struck for the second goal in the 21st minute.
O’Shea’s great catch and drive created space for a pass into O’Connor and he took the chance at the second time of asking before adding a further free and a match in which they had been struggling now saw the Westerners leading by seven, 2-3 to 0-2.
It wouldn’t have been in the character of the semi-final for such an early initiative to be decisive and sure enough Kerry re-assembled. A point from Paul Geaney was followed by their first goal, Donaghy reacting fastest to a ball that spun up from Higgins’s block on O’Donoghue.
At the break Mayo led by a goal, 2-5 to 1-5, which didn’t feel enough given the strength of the breeze.
There was even drama at half-time. Aidan O’Shea and O’Connor had collided just before the break and were apparently on a lengthy blood-sub break, which meant neither started the second half although both eventually re-entered the fray.
Once more Kerry made the early moves. After blood sub Alan Freeman had stretched Mayo’s lead the Munster champions lashed off 1-3 without reply. O’Donoghue was at the heart of the response: fouled for a penalty, which he converted to add to two points.
At 2-8 to 2-6 Kerry again had the whip hand but the lead was whizzing back and forth with the rapidity of a table tennis exhibition.
Brian Kelly in the Kerry goal couldn’t hold a ball dropped in by O’Connor and it came off Kevin McLaughlin’s shoulder for Andy Moran to fist home.
Replacement Michael Conroy and Donal Vaughan tied it up before the end to bring the match to extra time.
In the end it was postponing the inevitable but their early efforts in the additional period promised better.
Early points from O’Connor and McLaughlin gave them a lead that Barry John Keane cancelled with a couple of frees. But it would be their last throw of the dice.
Kerry: J O’Donoghue 2-6 (2-0pen, 2f), P Geaney 0-4 (3f), K Donaghy 1-0, BJ Keane (2f), J Lyne 0-2 each K Young, M Ó Sé 0-1 each.
Mayo: C O’Connor 2-5 (1-0pen, 3f), A Moran 1-1, J Doherty 0-3, D Vaughan, K McLoughlin, M Conroy, A Freeman (f) 0-1 each.