Mayo head for replay against Kingdom despite amazing comeback

Mayo and Kerry will meet again at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick next Saturday after finishing level in an epic, breath-taking All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park.

Mayo head for replay against Kingdom despite amazing comeback

Mayo 1-16 Kerry 1-16

Mayo and Kerry will meet again at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick next Saturday after finishing level in an epic, breath-taking All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park.

Fourteen-man Mayo appeared to be on their way out when they fell five points behind, but searched deep within themselves for the courage and intensity that turned the game on its head.

They went five clear with the help of Cillian O’Connor’s 1-8 tally, but James O’Donoghue rescued the Kingdom with a late goal, before substitute Kieran O’Leary shot a stoppage time equaliser.

Stephen O’Brien slotted over an early score and set up another for James O’Donoghue.

And while O’Donoghue was well shackled by Keith Higgins, Kerry were able to produce scores from other avenues, with eight different players hitting the target in the first half.

The sides were level on three occasions during a cagey opening ten minutes, with Cillian O’Connor scoring twice for the westerners.

Both sides missed golden goal chances. First O’Connor rounded goalkeeper Brian Kelly, but shot wide from a couple of yards.

Moments later, Paul Geaney was sent clear, but blazed wide with just Rob Hennelly to beat.

Mayo nullified the threat of O’Donoghue with an extra defender to fortify Higgins’ man-marking job, and Kerry also channelled bodies back to cut out the goal threat.

They held the Connacht champions scoreless for 17 minutes, until wing back Lee Keegan pushed forward for a point.

But by that time, Kerry had established a solid platform in midfield through Anthony Maher and the excellent David Moran.

Donnchadh Walsh, Paul Geaney and Michael Geaney all fired over scores, and Moran thumped over a long range effort to lift his team-mates.

Mayo suffered a huge blow on 33 minutes when Keegan was sent off on a straight red card for kicking out at Johnny Buckley.

And after Moran had for the second time split, and skipper Fionn Fitzgerald became the eighth Kerry player to score, they took a 0-9 to 0-5 lead into the interval.

But Mayo committed extra men to the offensive effort, and narrowed the gap with a handful of O’Connor frees and an inspirational Colm Boyle effort.

Aidan O’Shea rose to the occasion with his power and purpose, and with a frenetic workrate, they stifled and frustrated their opponents.

They were level by the tenth minute of the secnd half, after O’Connor and Dillon had fired over points.

Driven by passion and fervour, James Horan’s men fell behind again to Donnchadh Walsh’s second score, but wasted no time in going level for the sixth time through Jason Doherty.

The O’Shea brothers, Colm Boyle and Donal Vaughan drove repeatedly through the heart of the Kerry defence, with Tom Parsons also off the bench to lend a valuable hand.

And they made a vital breakthrough when Vaughan won a penalty that O’Connor blasted to the net in the 59th minute.

The Kingdom kept in touch with scores from Peter Crowley and Bryan Sheehan, but it was substitute Kieran Donaghy who made the difference as they pulled the game out of the fire.

Donaghy won important ball in the air, and provided the pay-off for O’Donoghue’s 68th minute goal, before another substitute, Kieran O’Leary, hooked over the stoppage time equaliser.

Mayo: R Hennelly, T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey, K Higgins, L Keegan (0-1), D Vaughan, C Boyle (0-1), J Gibbons, S O'Shea, K McLoughlin, A O'Shea, J Doherty (0-1), C O'Connor (1-08, 1-0 pen, 0-5f), A Freeman, A Dillon (0-3).

Subs: T Parsons for Gibbons, A Moran (0-2) for Freeman, M Conroy for Doherty, M Sweeney for Dillon, K Keane for Cafferkey

Kerry: B Kelly, M O Se, A O’Mahony, S Enright, P Murphy (0-1), P Crowley (0-1), F Fitzgerald (0-1), A Maher, D Moran (0-2), M Geaney (0-1), J Buckley (0-1), D Walsh (0-2), S O’Brien (0-01), P Geaney (0-1, f), J O’Donoghue (1-3).

Subs: D O’Sullivan for O’Brien, B Sheehan (0-1, f) for M Geaney, K Young for O’Mahony, K Donaghy for Maher, BJ Keane for Buckley, K O’Leary (0-1) for Walsh

Referee: D Coldrick (Meath).

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