Mayo and Kerry to do it all over again after epic draw
Morgan Treacy INPHO
Cillian O'Connor was Mayo's star man with 1-7.
MAYO’S 14 MEN mustered an outstanding second-half comeback in today’s All-Ireland semi-final, only for Kerry to very nearly steal it at the death.
Mayo, who had lost Lee Keegan in very questionable circumstances in the first half, were four points down at the break only to turn it around and lead by five points within the final quarter.
Yet with the inspired introduction of Kieran Donaghy and Barry John Keane causing havoc to the Mayo defence, it was in fact Kerry who had the final opportunities to go on and win the game.
First James O’Donoghue hit the post with a strike form 30 metres, before a huge Bryan Sheehan effort dropped just short with the last kick of the game.
The game opened brightly as neither team registered a wide for eight minutes, James Donoghue and Cillian O’Connor both opening their accounts within the first ten.
Yet as the half edged on Mayo in particular fell into a defensive system with just Cillian O’Connor and Alan Dillon remaining in their inside line.
Kerry were more than breaking even in Mayo’s reputable middle sector, with Johnny Buckley and David Moran both putting in workman like shifts, as well as both getting on the score sheet.
Mayo were intent on running at the Kerry defence, more often than not being bunched out and turned over. Yet on nine minutes Cillian O’Connor latched onto a high ball which left him straight through on goal, but after rounding the keeper he missed the open net (claiming he was being dragged down by goalkeeper Brian Kelly).
The game then went 12 minutes without a score before Donnochadh Walsh tapped over his first. On the half hour Michael Geaney became Kerry’s sixth forward to score – and so Kerry went in at half-time 0-9 to 0-5 up as Mayo appeared flat and now a man down.
Colm Boyle was exceptional for Mayo today.
Nonetheless Mayo exploded into the second half, Aidan O’Shea and Colm Boyle combined on 42 minutes with the half-back sending over an inspirational score. Both players were integral as Mayo upped their work rate immensely and were level by the 45th minute.
Yet they weren’t having it all their own way entirely, James O’Donoghue who was relatively quiet by his own high standards today, spurned a goal scoring opportunity, blazing his attempt over for a point.
But as Kerry began to gain some momentum, an excellent clearing interception by Rob Hennelly at the edge of his square set Mayo on the attack with Donal Vaughan then being dragged down for a penalty.
The excellent Cillian O’Connor rattled the net with the penalty, before adding two more scores to create a five point lead – a remarkable comeback owed purely to the huge workrate and hunger shown by the entire Mayo team.
With Mayo ahead and cruising, Kerry introduced Donaghy who had an instant effect. First fetching expertly to win a crucial free, before again catching a high ball on the edge of the square and laying off to James O’Donoghue who roofed the net. The margin now being reduced to a single point.
Kerry were back in the game, and with the momentum and the extra man Mayo were in trouble.
Substitute Kieran O’Leary found the equaliser with a neat finish after Tom Cunniffe was wide with his attempt to add an insurance point in the previous attack – the game now hanging on a knife-edge.
In the final three minutes of injury time Mayo struggled to gain possession, with BJ Keane and Donaghy ruling the skies, and O’Donoghue lurking inside. Cafferkey was replaced at full back for Mayo and Aidan O’Shea seemed to have run himself to a standstill around the middle.
Kerry’s first opportunity to win this classic then fell to none other than O’Donoghue, but he skimmed the post with an effort which by his standards would be considered routine. And then with the last kick of the game; a 55 metre Bryan Sheehan free was fetched under the posts by Seamus O’Shea.
So, the two will have to do it again next Saturday, and lets hope it’s half as good as today.
Scorers for Mayo: Cillian O’Connor (0-5f 1-0 penalty) 1-8; Alan Dillon 0-3; Lee Keegan, Colm Boyle, Jason Doherty, Andy Moran 0-2.
Scorers for Kerry: James O’Donoghue 1-3; David Moran, Donnchadh Walsh 0-2 each; Johnny Buckley, Fionn Fitzgerald, Stephen O’Brien, Paul Geaney (0-1f), Michael Geaney, Paul Murphy, Peter Crowley, Kieran O’Leary, Bryan Sheehan (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Bryan Sheehan misses a free in injury time which would have won the game for his side.
1. Robert Hennelly (Breaffy)
4. Keith Higgins (Ballyhaunis)
3. Ger Cafferkey (Ballina)
6. Tom Cunniffe (Castlebar Mitchels)
5. Lee Keegan (Westport)
8. Donal Vaughan (Ballinrobe)
7. Colm Boyle (Davitts)
21. Jason Gibbons (Ballintubber)
9. Seamus O’Shea (Breaffy)
10. Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
23. Alan Freeman (Aghamore)
12. Jason Doherty (Burrishoole)
13. Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber)
11. Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
15. Alan Dillon (Baillintubber)
22. Tom Parsons (Charlestown) for Gibbons (H/T)
14. Andy Moran (Ballaghaderreen) for Freeman (48)
24. Michael Conroy (Davitts) for Doherty (54)
25. Mickey Sweeney (Kiltane) for Dillon (63)
17. Kevin Keane (Westport) for Cafferkey (69)
1. Brian Kelly (Killarney Legion)
5. Paul Murphy (Rathmore)
3. Aidan O’Mahony (Rathmore)
4. Shane Enright (Tarbert)
6. Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers)
2. Marc Ó Sé (An Ghaeltacht)
7. Fionn Fitzgerald (Capt) (Dr Crokes)
8. Anthony Maher (Duagh)
9. David Moran (Kerins O’Rahillys)
10. Michael Geaney (Dingle)
11. Johnny Buckley (Dr Crokes)
12. Donnchadh Walsh (Cromane)
13. Stephen O’Brien (Kenmare)
14. Paul Geaney (Dingle)
15. James O’Donoghue (Killarney Legion)
17. Declan O’Sullivan (Dromid Pearses) for O’Brien (19)
19. Bryan Sheehan (St Mary’s) for Geaney (43)
18. Killian Young (Renard) for O’Mahony (51)
22. Kieran Donaghy (Austin Stacks) for Maher (59)
21. Barry John Keane (Kerins O’Rahillys) for Buckley (63)
20. Kieran O’Leary (Dr Crokes) for Walsh (67)