Mayo’s patience was rewarded with a first senior national title in 18 years as they outplayed Kerry in the second half.
Watched by 44,257 in Croke Park, Mayo were slack in the opening half but drove into the second half and were ahead by 58th minute when Diarmuid O’Connor sent over the second of two points in the space of five minutes. They had closed the margin to one in 49 minutes when Matthew Ruane found the Kerry net for the second time in as many meetings.
Kerry equalised quickly after a flurry of passes saw Jack Barry point but the initiative completely switched to Mayo when captain O’Connor touched a hanging Patrick Durcan ball to leave Kerry goalkeeper Shane Ryan stranded.
After a Paul Geaney point, David Clifford had an additional time goal chance set up by the excellent Stephen O’Brien negated by Rob Hennelly on the goal-line and while he did point soon after Ciarán Treacy provided the coup de grace when fellow substitute Andy Moran sent him through.
The wind Mayo faced into in the first half was debilitating but then it wasn’t enough of a reason for how poor they were in their attacks.
Of their five points, three were fisted scores, one less than the number of shots Kerry left short in the first half, which excluded the post Kevin McCarthy struck early in the period.
Compared to Hennelly, Ryan was hardly troubled but he had to be alert to deny Donie Vaughan a goal in the seventh minute when the teams were tied a point a piece. Mayo did follow that up with the next two scores but then Gavin Crowley struck a lovely outside of the boot effort into the corner after Mayo defenders stood back from a Clifford solo.
Clifford was making his presence felt, making Brendan Harrison foul the ball and Seán O’Shea fired over the resultant free. He was then off the mark when he completed a nifty one-two move with Tommy Walsh when Hennelly didn’t clear a high ball sufficiently.
By the time Mayo scored again 12 minutes had elapsed and Kerry followed that Jason Doherty point with O’Brien’s well-executed goal, the wing-forward claiming the ball from Dara Moynihan after he had claimed a ball won from a Ryan kick-out.
With his second point of the half, Fergal Boland finished out the scoring to cut the margin to 2-3 to 0-5 at the break but if anything the difference flattered Mayo.
Scorers for Mayo: D. O’Connor (1-2); M. Ruane (1-1); C. Treacy (1-0); F. Boland, J. Carr, J. Doherty (1 free) (0-2 each); P. Durcan, D. Coen (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: S. O’Shea (0-5, frees); G. Crowley (1-1); S. O’Brien (1-0); D. Clifford (0-2); J. Barry, P. Geaney (0-1 each).
MAYO: R. Hennelly; K. Higgins, C. Barrett, B. Harrison; P. Durcan, L. Keegan, D. Vaughan; M. Ruane, A. O’Shea; F. Boland, J. Doherty, D. O’Connor; K. McLoughlin, D. Coen, J. Carr.
Subs for Mayo: A. Moran for D. Coen (51); C. Boyle for D. Vaughan (58); E. Regan for J. Carr (62); C. Treacy for J. Doherty (67).
Red card: A. O’Shea (70+1, second yellow).
KERRY: S. Ryan; P. Crowley, J. Sherwood, T. O’Sullivan; G. Crowley, P. Murphy (c), G. O’Sullivan; J. Barry, D. O’Connor; D. Moynihan, S. O’Shea, S. O’Brien; D. Clifford, T. Walsh, K. McCarthy.
Subs for Kerry: B. Ó Beaglaoich for T. O’Sullivan (blood 10-12); J. O’Donoghue for D. Moynihan (h-t); J. Foley for J. Sherwood (39); M. Griffin for K. McCarthy (42); P. Geaney for T. Walsh (54); G. O’Brien for G. Crowley (66).
Red card: D. O’Connor (70+4, second yellow).
Referee: F. Kelly (Longford).