Galway give Kerry a thumping

Galway 1-13

Kerry were nearly always fighting a losing battle. Conceding a goal in the 10th minute to new teenage sensation Michael Joyce and losing Colm Cooper late in the half after he was red-carded, meant that an erratic challenge was seriously undermined.

Speaking after the first meeting between the counties in Galway city in 24 years, Galway manager John O'Mahony admitted that he hadn't expected the game to go so well for his side.

"The solution is with Kerry, not with us. We were 'up' for it a lot after what we did last week against Tyrone," he said later.

"We didn't want to go into the next series of games with only two points. From that point of view we really wanted to give it everything from a team level. Apart from the goal, our start had a bearing in that we stamped our authority. And, once we continued to do that we were always in with a good chance. Last week we were chasing the game. This time we were that bit in front and it made a bit of a difference."

Páidí Ó Sé, who said it was 'news to him' that Maurice Fitzgerald was due back in training, was just as frank in conceding that his team 'was not in great shape.'

"Last year in similar circumstances we were doing heavy training and still getting away with winning matches. This time every team is better than the next," he commented.

"Galway are a very crafty team. They are crafty with 15 men not to mind playing a team with 14."

Little enough separated the teams over the opening 20 minutes with the notable exception of Meehan's goal. That put Galway 1-4 to 0-1 in front before three Declan Quill points in as many minutes (each from a different angle) restored respectability to the visitors.

Meehan's finishing was clinical, after he had dodged a tackle from Michael McCarthy, but midfielder Kieran Comer played an important part in seeing him loose on the opposite wing and playing a perfect ball in his path. Benefiting from the strong play of Billy Sheehan on the left wing, Kerry almost had the ball in the net in the 16th minute.

Sean O'Sullivan caught 'keeper Alan Keane off guard when meeting a Cooper cross, but pushed the ball against the crossbar. And, shortly afterwards Kerry themselves were lucky when Derek Savage also got away from McCarthy and failed to take advantage.

The main problem for Kerry was that they were conceding possession in too many areas, at midfield for instance (despite the best efforts of Donal Daly), and at both ends of the field. Michael Comer was very effective in the right corner for Galway until Cooper got a bit of space to operate in, while Kieran Fitzgerald was very much dominant at full-back.

In contrast, Kerry's full-back trio were under pressure regularly, while Seamus Moynihan was often stretched by Matthew Clancy. Cooper was sent off in the 32nd minute, for what was a definite striking action (admitted by Paidí O Sé afterwards), but which from my viewpoint was unintentional.

He was jersey pulled as he attempted to anticipate a move and, in endeavouring to free himself, struck centre-back Matthew Blake in the face with his open hand. After consulting with his umpires, referee Pat McEnaney issued a straight red card.

While 'accepting' the referee's decision, O Sé made it clear that he believed his player had been 'niggled,' adding that at a general level he didn't coach players to take extreme action on the field.

Finishing the half 1-7 to 0-5 in front, Galway consolidated their position by continuing to pick off some very good scores with Meehan really excelling, Savage also a big threat and John Divilly very influential around the midfield/half-back area.

Conversely, by using the extra man cleverly in defence, they starved the Kerry forwards and Quill in particular, before he got three late scores of possession. Having resumed in spirited fashion, with Moynihan to the forefront in initiating a number of attacks from the back, Kerry made little or no headway.

And, the worrying thing from the perspective of the Kerry management was that the Munster side never really managed to lift their challenge.

*Pat McEnaney refereed with his usual efficiency, except that on a few occasions he was content to take note of players' names when yellow cards were justified.

Scorers Galway: M. Meehan 1-5 (0-2 frees); M. Clancy 0-2; K. Comer 0-2 frees; D. O'Brien 0-2; T. Joyce and D. Savage 0-1 each.

Kerry: D. Quill 0-6 (0-1 free); C. Cooper, D. Ó Cinneide (free) and P. Galvin 0-1 each.

GALWAY: A. Keane; M. Comer, K. Fitzgerald, R. Fahey; K. Brady, D. Blake, S. Og de Paor (capt.); J. Divilly, K. Comer; D. O'Brien, M. Clancy, A. Kerins; M. Meehan, D. Savage, T. Joyce.

Subs: L. O Collarain for Kerins (56th).

KERRY: D. Murphy; T. O'Sullivan, B. O'Shea (capt.), M. McCarthy; T. Ó Sé, S. Moynihan, J. Sheehan; D. Ó Sé, D. Daly; S. O'Sullivan, E. Brosnan, B. Sheehan; D. Quill, D. Ó Cinneide, C. Cooper.

Subs: D. O'Sullivan for Ó Cinneide (second half); P. Galvin for Sheehan, E. Fitzmaurice for Brosnan and M. Ó Sé for B. O'Shea (42nd minute); P. Kennedy for O'Sullivan (61st).

Referee: P. McEnaney (Monaghan).

A minute's silence was observed in memory of Michael Joyce, a nephew of Galway selector Stephen Joyce, who died on Saturday night.

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