It’s almost comical now but at the time, Paul Galvin was aching. Coming off the field after clearly being targeted by Monaghan for 50 minutes, his body was aching. Pat O’Shea’s pat on the back only aggravated his war wounds.
That 2007 All-Ireland quarter-final is remembered as the one that got away from Monaghan, Tomás Ó Sé’s fisted point being the difference in the end. In Kerry, it’s considered the game that made them that season.
O’Shea’s side were coming into the match cold after a six-week wait from the Munster final win over Cork and considered sitting ducks by Seamus McEnaney.
The one Kerry player whose embers didn’t need to be stoked were Galvin’s. McEnaney identified the Fingue attacker as the marked man and his enforcers were instructed to break him.
The legend goes that Darragh Ó Sé only turned up to play for Munster in the Railway Cup later that year to exact revenge on Dick Clerkin for what he did to Galvin (Clerkin was sent off later in that quarter-final. As The Irish Times report of the interprovincial game read, “Darragh Ó Sé went through the back of the Monaghan man early on. Moments later Clerkin, with a burst lip, was laid out on the turf as Ó Sé scampered away.”
Ó Sé famously told Munster manager Seán Geaney at half-time that he wouldn’t be returning for the second half having done his bit.
Earlier this week, McEnaney spoke of how cynical and aggressive Kerry had been in that game and the 2008 quarter-final where the margin was only two points more. A midfielder in both games, Seamus Scanlon argues those elements were more present in Monaghan’s style at the time.
“They were tough customers. They were hard to shake off. They were a very physical team. They mightn’t have had as many skilful footballers as Kerry had but they could more than match us for fitness and physicality. The fact we probably had a few more scorers than them probably got us over the line in the end. There was a good rivalry with them back then. We always used to play them in the league. We played them then two years in a row in championship and there was never a whole pile between us.
“They had (Dick) Clerkin and Owen Lennon, who were pretty formidable. Darragh and myself had tough games against them. They were solid out.
The 2008 match has good memories for Scanlon as he picked off a score and was one of Kerry’s best performers.
“I worked away at it. Croke Park was the monkey on Monaghan’s back at that time and it was up to last Sunday. That will give them a lot of confidence now and they’re going to be difficult to break down now.”
Killian Young, Darran O’Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh, and Kieran Donaghy are the only Kerry survivors from those games, whereas Monaghan retain Vinny Corey, Dessie Mone, Darren Hughes, and Conor McManus, a wing-back in the ’08 game.
However, Monaghan are slightly more dependent on their older crew now, Scanlon feels. “Vinny Corey is getting better with age. He keeps his head under the radar. You mightn’t see him the whole game but he’s told to do a job and does it. He snuffed out Paul Cribbin.
“I’d say the boys from back then have to stick around because they haven’t got a whole pile coming through under-age and they just need that bit of experience.”
Some of it would be useful from a Kerry perspective in St Tiernach’s Park too although Scanlon expects a response given the defeat last week.
“It was just a disaster for two traditional teams to be going at it like that,” he says of the loss to Galway. “It was one of the worst games of football I’ve seen. It was like Kerry never got going from the start. They should have been hitting the ground running and they could have blitzed them in the opening 15 minutes but there was no pace in their game and the kick-passing and shooting was erratic.
“There’s always going to be another kick in Kerry if they have another chance. They would have been going home after the last day and they’d be sick to the stomach knowing that they let themselves down. There will surely be a turnaround this weekend because a whole pile of them didn’t kill themselves so there will be plenty left in the tank.”
As a midfielder, Scanlon doesn’t believe there was all that much wrong with Shane Murphy’s kickouts. Where Kerry fell down, he feels, was in their determination to scrap for the ball that broke away from the fielders.
“It was all down to workrate as far as I was concerned. I like to dissect games and our half-back and our half-forward lines didn’t do enough to win the breaking ball. You could see Galway were more eager to win the dirty ball. When you win that, 90% of the time you’re going to win midfield.”