Mayos allireland bid comes to an end
Mayo’s bid for a third All-Ireland final appearance in a row has come to an end in heart-breaking fashion.
Kerry edged the semi-final replay in Limerick by three points, winning in the end by 3-16 to 3-13 after extra time.
Two very evenly matched teams went toe-to-toe for over 90 minutes of a hugely intense encounter that may have spilled over a bit right at the end but was played in a sporting manner for the majority of the afternoon.
Ultimately, a little bit of composure by the Munster champions proved the difference as Kerry found scores slightly easier to come by on an afternoon when three penalties were awarded.
Kerry started brightly but were wayward in their shooting. Nevertheless, they held a one-point lead by the end of the first quarter and looked livelier around the field. But when Cillian O’Connor won a hopeful high punt by Aidan O’Shea and was taken down by Shane Enright as he advanced on goal, referee Cormac Reilly had no option but to award a penalty. O’Connor confidently found the bottom corner with the kick.
It got even better for Mayo when O’Connor found the net a second time just after the 20-minute mark. This time O’Shea’s assist was terrific and deliberate, fetching a high ball before hand-passing to O’Connor in the clear. The corner-forward’s initial shot came off Kerry ‘keeper Brian Kelly but the ball broke kindly and the tap in was simple.
Kerry refused to buckle, however, and were back in the game when Donaghy smashed a loose ball to the net after James O’Donoghue’s shot was saved by Robert Hennelly in the Mayo goal.
Mayo’s 2-5 to 1-5 half time advantage soon became a four-point lead but was cut quickly by Kerry, who won a penalty of their own when O’Donoghue went down under a challenge after Donaghy had won another high delivery and fed his corner-forward. O’Donoghue was accuracy personified as he slid the ball past Mayo ‘keeper Hennelly.
Wind-assisted Kerry threatened to pull clear but Mayo had other ideas and Andy Moran scored the Connaught champions’ third goal, fisting to the net after Kevin McLoughlin won a challenge for a high ball with the Kerry goalkeeper.
But there was further drama when O’Donoghue was awarded a second penalty, although Ger Cafferkey appeared to have won the ball with his challenge. The Kerry ace, for the second time, despatched the kick expertly.
Yet that wasn’t the end of it at all and Mayo forced extra time by scoring the final two points, the first by Michael Conroy and the second in injury time by Donal Vaughan, to level the contest at 3-13 apiece. They could have won it right at the end but Robert Hennelly’s long-range free was fisted clear by Kieran Donaghy under his own crossbar.
In extra time Mayo looked the better team with the wind in the first half and went two points up thanks to O’Connor and McLoughlin, but Kerry won two frees that could be described as soft and Barry John Keane popped over both.
Substitute Jonathan Lyne proved the hero in the second period of extra time by scoring two of Kerry’s three points, Paul Geaney landing the one in the middle as Kerry went into a 3-16 to 3-13 lead. Mayo needed a goal and went for it, but O’Connor’s shot was blocked. The tension spilled over in a hectic finale and O’Connor saw red for a kick out at an opponent as he tried to retrieve the ball for one last free, Kerry defending for their lives to make sure their place in the final was confirmed.
Mayo: R. Hennelly; T. Cunniffe, G. Cafferkey, K. Higgins; L. Keegan, C. Boyle, D. Vaughan (0-1); B. Moran, S. O’Shea; K. McLoughlin (0-1), A. O’Shea, J. Doherty (0-3); C. O’Connor (2-5, 1-0 pen, 3f), A. Moran (1-1), A. Dillon.
Subs used: A. Freeman (0-1, 1f), M. Conroy (0-1), T. Parsons, K. Keane, R. Feeney, B. Harrison, C. Barrett.
Kerry: B. Kelly; K. Young (0-1), A. O’Mahony, S. Enright; P. Murphy, P. Crowley, F. Fitzgerald; A. Maher, D. Moran; M. Geaney, J. Buckley, D. Walsh; K. Donaghy (1-0), P. Geaney (0-4, 3f), J. O’Donoghue (2-6, 2-0 pens, 2f).
Subs used: M. Ó Sé (0-1), B.J. Keane (0-2, 2f), D. O’Sullivan, K. O’Leary, J. Lyne (0-2), B. Sheehan, M. Griffin.
Ref: C. Reilly (Meath).