All Ireland Senior Football Semi-Final replay
Mayo 2-16 Kerry 0-17
Mayo supporters can start to dream about Sam Maguire again after they dominated Kerry to win 2-16 to 0-17 in a superb All-Ireland semi-final replay at Croke Park.
Leading 1-08 to 0-06 at half-time after a Diarmuid O’Connor goal, the Connacht side defeated Kerry for the first time since the 1996 All-Ireland semi-final and now await the winners of the Dublin v Tyrone semi-final.
Kerry goalkeeper Brian Kelly had a day to forget, his kick-outs were constantly won by Mayo and he even managed to give away a 45 with an attempted short kick-out that bizarrely went back over his own end line.
Kerry ended the game with just 13 men on the field after Peter Crowley and Kieran Donaghy saw red late in the game.
Donaghy got a straight red for a double punch on Aidan O’Shea while Mayo had Paddy Durcan sent off for a second yellow.
After the epic display last Sunday, most people thought Mayo had squandered their chance to defeat Kerry and manager Stephen Rochford came in for plenty of criticism for putting Aidan O’Shea back on Kerry’s Donaghy.
Today, O’Shea started further up the field with Donie Vaughan tasked with marking the Austin Stacks man but after about 15 minutes O’Shea was moved back to mark Donaghy.
Mayo started well and Andy Moran continued where he left off last weekend by constantly getting the better of Shane Enright. The Connacht side were 0-03 to 0-01 up after only eight minutes.
However, three quick points from Paul Geaney and Johnny Buckley put the Kingdom back in the lead.
Unfortunately for them, they then went 15 minutes without scoring.
In this time, Mayo got four unanswered points through three Cillian O’Connor frees and a superb Kevin McLoughlin point.
Kerry finally troubled the umpire in the 26th minute when Geaney kicked over a well-taken score but Mayo responded with a goal.
Vaughan kicked in a looping ball and Diarmuid O’Connor nipped in front of Kerry keeper Brian Kelly to guide the ball with his fist into the net sending the Mayo fans wild.
That made it 1-07 to 0-05 but Kerry had the opportunity to reply with their own goal immediately when Peter Crowley pushed his way through but his low effort took a deflection and went out for a 45 instead, which David Moran subsequently missed.
With five minutes to go in the first half, Mayo were 1-08 to 0-05 up and Kerry could only get the gap down to five points at half-time.
Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice made a number of changes at half-time with Darran O’Sullivan and James O’Donoghue coming on.
O’Donoghue was quiet in the drawn game last week but injected much needed urgency to the Kerry play in the second half.
He got his first score with his first touch two minutes into the second half but in the 39th minute, Mayo found the back of the net for the second time.
Andy Moran collected a great ball in from Conor Loftus, turned Enright before playing a one two pass with Cillian O’Connor leaving Moran with the simple task of punching the ball into the Kerry net.
That left the score at 2-09 to 0-07 and it was the last bit of action for Enright, with Fionn Fitzgerald taking his place.
Kerry had the opportunity to get a goal back immediately after Donaghy collected a high ball in, he passed to Geaney who rounded David Clarke in the Mayo goal only to see Colm Boyle clear the ball out for a 45.
While O’Donoghue was threatening the Mayo defence, fellow substitute Darran O’Sullivan was only on the field for eight minutes before he was black carded. He was not happy about it and made his feelings know to referee David Gough.
Gough then sent Kerry selector Liam Hassett to the stand for protesting at the level of the officiating.
Inbetween, Clarke produced two brilliant saves within the space of three seconds to deny Kerry. First he blocked a shot from Stephen O’Brien and then followed that up by brilliantly saving the rebound from Geaney.
Mayo managed to win a free out from the resulting scramble and the Mayo supporters started to believe their team were actually going to make it easy on them for once.
With Mayo 2-10 to 0-09 up after 50 minutes, Cillian O’Connor received a black card for a low tackle but Kerry never closed the gap to less than four points.
In the 62nd minute, Peter Crowley picked up his second yellow for pulling back Colm Boyle and in injury time, Paddy Durcan joined him on the sideline for his second yellow.
Geaney scored the resulting free to make it 2-16 to 0-17 but as the players retreated for the kick-out, Aidan O’Shea and Donaghy clashed and the Kerry man struck the Breaffy forward twice, leaving Gough with little choice but to issue a straight red to finish off a dark day for the Kingdom.
Mayo have made it back to the All-Ireland final the hard way this year but their supporters won’t mind one bit if they can finally claim Sam Maguire for the first time since 1951. It will be their fourth All-Ireland final appearance in seven years, with either Dublin or Tyrone the opponent on the 17th of September.
Kerry face into a long winter that could be filled with departures as they old guard make way for the Kingdom’s up and coming young guns. Speculation will swirl around Fitzmaurice’s future but the dust will surely be allowed to settle before any decisions are made.
Mayo: David Clarke, Brendan Harrison, Donal Vaughan, Chris Barrett (0-1), Keith Higgins, Aidan O’Shea, Colm Boyle, Séamus O’Shea, Tom Parsons, Kevin McLoughlin (0-2), Lee Keegan, Diarmuid O’Connor (1-0), Cillian O’Conor 0-6 (0-6f), Andy Moran 1-1, Jason Doherty 0-3 (0-1f, 0-1 ’45).
Subs: Paddy Durcan (0-1) for Vaughan 35 minutes, Conor Loftus, (0-2) for Diarmuid O’Connor HT, Conor O’Shea for Cillian O’Connor 51 min (black card), Stephen Coen for Séamus O’Shea 60 mins, Danny Kirby for Boyle 68 mins, Ger Cafferkey for Barrett 73 mins.
Kerry: Brian Kelly, Tadhg Morley, Shane Enright, Killian Young, Jonathan Lyne (0-1), Peter Crowley, Tom O’Sullivan, David Moran, Jack Barry (0-1), Donnchadh Walsh, Johnny Buckley (0-1), Stephen O’Brien, Paul Geaney 0-10 (0-8f), Kieran Donaghy, Paul Murphy.
Subs: Darran O’Sullivan for Walsh HT, James O’Donoghue 0-3 (0-1f) for Buckley HT, Fionn Fitzgerald (0-1) for Enright 38 mins, Jack Savage for Darran O’Sullivan 44 mins (black card), Mark Griffin for Young 50 mins, Barry John Keane for Tom O’Sullivan 62 mins.
Referee: David Gough (Meath)