All Ireland SFC S-F: Epic encounter finishes level
All Ireland SFC Semi-Final
KERRY 2-14 MAYO 2-14
By Cian O'Connell at Croke Park
Talk swirled throughout the week about a couple of 2014 classics involving Kerry and Mayo so it was only appropriate that another gripping game went the distance.
Paddy Durcan, the splendid Castlebar Mitchels clubman, had the honour of landing a gorgeous last gasp point to ensure a replay will be required at Croke Park next Saturday. 66,195 spectators watched an enthralling match unfold.
Andy Moran mining 1-5 at one end; Aidan O’Shea battling with Kieran Donaghy at the other. Meanwhile in a clustered middle sector collisions and turnovers were forced. Both teams had pockets of supremacy, but parity eventually prevailed.
Unsurprisingly it commenced at a decent clip and when Andy Moran planted a fifth minute goal Mayo were very much in the groove.
By the 13th minute Mayo led 1-2 to 0-2 when Kerry pounced for a major when Donaghy released Stephen O’Brien, who finished smartly.
Killian Young and James O’Donoghue subsequently added points, but then came a Mayo flurry which yielded 1-3 without reply.
Moran, using all his guile and experience, was central, while Colm Boyle, one of the defensive warriors, thundered up the pitch to grab a goal.
Following that Mayo burst, Stephen Rochford’s charges were 2-5 to 1-4 ahead, but it sparked a Kerry rally.
Four points on the spin from Paul Geaney (three frees) and Donaghy ensured the teams departed deadlocked at the break, 2-5 to 1-8.
Delicately poised it continued to ebb and flow. Moran, Donal Vaughan, Cillian O’Connor, and Tom Parsons all raised white flags as Mayo accumulated a 2-9 to 1-9 advantage.
Kerry hit a 46th minute goal when Johnny Buckley made the Mayo net dance following a David Clarke save from David Moran.
Paul Geaney dashed about causing Mayo problems, while Moran’s enduring excellence remained a significant factor.
It stayed fast, frenetic, and furious. Kerry hit the front. Mayo levelled. That happened again before O’Connor guided Mayo 2-13 to 2-12 ahead with nine minutes left on the clock.
Substitute Barry John Keane scored. Deadlocked. Then Stephen Coen and Chris Barrett went close. Kerry survived the scares with Geaney’s skill enabling Paul Murphy, who had a dynamic duel with Lee Keegan, to guide over a 69th minute point.
Mayo, admirably defiant until the bitter end, summoned one last attack which culminated in Durcan’s delightful intervention.
Kerry had one last gasp opportunity, but Bryan Sheehan’s long distance free was gathered by Aidan O’Shea. Ultimately it means Kerry and Mayo return to the Jones Road venue at 3pm next Saturday. The next instalment should be similarly fascinating.
Scorers for Kerry: Paul Geaney 0-7 (3fs), Stephen O’Brien and Johnny Buckley 1-0 each, James O’Donoghue 0-3 (2fs), Kieran Donaghy, Killian Young, Paul Murphy, and Barry John Keane 0-1 each.
Scorers for Mayo: Andy Moran 1-5, Cillian O’Connor 0-4 (1f), Tom Parsons 0-2, Donal Vaughan, Jason Doherty, and Paddy Durcan 0-1 each.
KERRY: Brian Kelly; Shane Enright, Mark Griffin, Killian Young; Peter Crowley, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy; David Moran, Anthony Maher; Michael Geaney, Johnny Buckley, Stephen O'Brien; Paul Geaney, Kieran Donaghy, James O'Donoghue.
*Subs: *Jack Savage for Michael Geaney (22), Jonathan Lyne for Mark Griffin (HT), Jack Barry for Anthony Maher (HT), Darran O’Sullivan for Johnny Buckley (54), Barry John Keane for James O’Donoghue (62), Bryan Sheehan for Kieran Donaghy (70).
MAYO: David Clarke; Brendan Harrison, Aidan O’Shea, Keith Higgins; Lee Keegan, Chris Barrett, Colm Boyle; Seamus O'Shea, Tom Parsons; Kevin McLoughlin, Donal Vaughan, Diarmuid O'Connor; Jason Doherty, Cillian O'Connor, Andy Moran.
Subs: Paddy Durcan for Colm Boyle (42), Stephen Coen for Seamus O’Shea (59), David Drake for Diarmuid O’Connor (68), Conor Loftus for Jason Doherty (70).
REFEREE: Maurice Deegan (Laois).