By Daragh Small
Paudie Clifford’s first-half goal put Kerry on their way to victory as they continued their dominance of the All-Ireland JFC with a fourth consecutive title beating Galway at Cusack Park in Ennis this afternoon.
Kerry eased past the challenge of Kildare with six points to spare in the previous round, but Galway were a step up in class.
The reigning champions led by 1-7 to 1-6 at half-time, after Clifford and Padraic Cunningham traded goals in the first half.
Jonathan Ryan scored Galway’s goal after half-time, but Niall Ó Sé’s late penalty cancelled that out.
Kerry captain Kieran Murphy won the toss but chose to play against the breeze in the opening half. And Galway struck first from a free through Jonathan Ryan in the third minute.
But Kerry scored an unanswered 1-2 after that. Niall Ó Sé scored in the fifth minute, Lee O’Donoghue put them in front for the first time and then Clifford added their goal in the seventh minute.
Galway had difficulty retaining possession from their own kick-out and Clifford pounced on one mistake before he soloed straight through, unopposed, and finished low to the net.
But Galway kept in the game and Martin Coady crucially doubled their tally in the tenth minute. The teams went score for score but the holders always seemed to have the extra bit of class in attack.
Cunningham had missed a goal chance early on for Galway and they needed to convert every opportunity they could get. But the Headford man was emphatic in the 21st minute.
He shrugged off the sizeable challenge of Kerry full-back Dan O’Donoghue, held his composure and placed his shot into the bottom corner of Darragh O’Shea’s goal.
Galway now only trailed by 1-5 to 1-4 and Thomas Hickey quickly answered that score with a Kerry point up the other end.
Both teams racked up the wides as they went in search of a lead at half-time, and Galway drew level in the 31st minute after points from Ryan and Cunningham.
Cronin gave Kerry a 1-7 to 1-6 lead at the break, and O’Donoghue gave them a two-point lead eight seconds after the resumption.
Kerry scored the first three points of the second half and led by 1-10 to 1-6 but Michael Day had given a powerful display in midfield for Galway and scored an inspirational point in the 41st minute.
Despite the huge wides tally that continued to mount Galway got back in front in the 47th minute when Ryan latched onto a pass from Matthew Reddington and scored a second goal.
Galway looked to be on their way to victory but they had 15 wides and Seán Ó Currin fouled Clifford before Ó Sé slotted the winning goal with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Scorers for Kerry: N Ó Sé 1-4 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), T Hickey 0-4 (0-2f), P Clifford 1-0, E Cronin & L O’Donoghue 0-2 each, D Daly 0-1.
Scorers for Galway: J Ryan 1-2 (0-1f), P Cunningham 1-1, S Gaffney 0-4 (0-4f), M Coady, A Ó Laoí, A Molloy & M Day 0-1 each
Kerry: D O’Shea; T Wallace, D O’Donoghue, P O’Sullivan; P O’Connor, A Barry, S Moloney; K Murphy, R Murphy; E Cronin, P Clifford, D Daly; T Hickey, L O’Donoghue, N Ó Sé.
Subs for Kerry: C Fitzgerald for R Murphy (52), R Buckley for L O’Donoghue (54), C O’Shea for O’Connor (57).
Galway: M Breathnach; E O’Sullivan, S Cunniffe, C Reilly; A Ward, S Ó Currin, D O’Reilly; A Molloy, M Day; P Éoin Ó Curraoin, A Ó Laoí, T Gleeson; J Ryan, P Cunningham, M Coady.
Subs for Galway: D Hennessy for Day (11 - 13), M Reddington for Gleeson (half-time), T Rabbitte for Ward (40), S Gaffney for Coady (43), D Hennessy for Ó Curraoin (50), C Farley for Ryan (58), J Kirrane for O’Reilly (63).
Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).