MAYO and Kerry will have to do it all again after the sides couldn’t be separated despite five minutes of injury-time in a thrilling All-Ireland senior football championship semi-final before a crowd of over 60,000 at a grey and misty Croke Park.
On a day when the big talking point was the decision by the Mayo management to put Aidan O’Shea in at full-back to mark Kieran Donaghy, it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul as the Kerryman was kept well out of the picture by O’Shea in the second half but he handled a lot of ball in the first half.
Kerry had the chance to seal the deal in the fifth and final minute of injury-time but Brian Sheehan’s long-range free was short of the target as the final whistle was blown.
That said, Mayo could also have won this had they taken their chances late on in the game on a day when Andy Moran produced 1-5 from play as Mayo got out of the blocks early when Moran fired to the back of the net after just four minutes, Kerry then finding the Mayo net on 13 minutes when Stephen O’Brien fired past David Clarke to tie the game at 1-2 apiece.
Mayo were to came back with a second goal in that first half, Colm Boyle cutting through the Kerry defence before finding the net, but it was all square at half-time - 2-5 to 1-8.
With the ball like a bar of soap at times mistakes were inevitable and Mayo probably made more than their opponents, and it was Kerry who found the net for a second time on 45 minutes as Johnny Crowley finished after Clarke had initially saved a shot from David Moran.
It was edge of the seat stuff as the lead changed hands until it looked as if Kerry had got over the line when Paul Murphy fired them into the lead on 70 minutes, but in the five minutes added on, it was substitute Paddy Durcan who threw Mayo a lifeline to send the game to a replay back to Croke Park next Saturday.
There is no reason why Mayo can't finish the job having exposed Kerry’s defensive frailties, but Kerry will no doubt feel they can still finish the job. Both managers have some big calls to make when they sit down to select their teams later this week for a 3 p.m. throw in.
Final score: Mayo 2-14, Kerry 2-14.
Mayo: D. Clarke, B. Harrison, D. Vaughan (0-1), K. Higgins, L. Keegan, C. Barrett, C. Boyle (1-0), S. O’Shea, T. Parsons (0-2), K. McLoughlin, A. O’Shea, D. O’Connor, J. Doherty (0-1), C. O’Connor (0-4, 1f), A. Moran (1-5).
Subs used: P. Durcan (0-1) for Boyle (43), S. Coen for S. O’Shea (58), D. Drake for D. O’Connor (67), C. Loftus for Doherty (73).
Kerry: B. Kelly, S. Enright, M. Griffin, K. Young (0-1), P. Crowley, T. Morley, P. Murphy (0-1, D. Moran, A. Maher, M. Geaney, J. Buckley (1-0), S. O’Brien (1-0), P. Geaney (0-7, 3f), K. Donaghy (0-1), J. O’Donoghue (0-3, 2f).
Subs used: J. Savage for M. Geaney (21), J. Barry for Maher (ht), D. O’Sullivan for Crowley (54), BJ Keane (0-1) for O’Donoghue (60), B. Sheehan for Donaghy (72).
Referee: M. Deegan (Laois).