Hickey leads Kerry to All-Ireland junior football title

Thomas Hickey fired 2-4 at Croke Park to secure victory in an All-Ireland junior football final at the second attempt for himself and Kerry.

Hickey leads Kerry to All-Ireland junior football title

By Paul Keane

Kerry 2-18 Mayo 0-10

Thomas Hickey fired 2-4 at Croke Park to secure victory in an All-Ireland junior football final at the second attempt for himself and Kerry.

The Castleisland man was captain of last year's Kingdom side which lost to Cavan in the decider but returned with intent to decide this year's showpiece.

He blasted goals in either half including a brilliant 38th minute lobbed effort that all but killed off an outclassed Mayo side who trailed by 11 at that stage.

Stephen Wallace's Kerry side included All-Ireland minor medallists from 2014 like Killian Spillane and former senior county talents like Conor Cox, David Culhane and Philip O'Connor.

They were far too slick and creative for Mayo who slipped to yet another agonising defeat for the county in an All-Ireland decider while Kerry are now 16-time junior winners.

But for an Andrew Farrell inspired recovery from Mayo approaching half-time this game could have been wrapped up at an even earlier stage.

The Kingdom led by 1-9 to 0-2 with 28 minutes on the clock and appeared all set for a comfortable win.

They oozed class and capitalised on the fact that Mayo have had just one game since winning the Connacht championship back in May, an All-Ireland semi-final win over Kilkenny.

Kerry found huge amounts of space in the right channel of Mayo's defence and remarkably fisted over four points from raids in that area.

Hickey scored two of those fisted points before shooting a brilliant 28th minute goal.

Alan O'Donoghue did the spadework with a clever pass from the right of goals and Hickey applied a rocketed finish to the roof of the net.

Mayo were in real trouble but closed the half strongly with four unanswered points including three from Farrell, one from a free that he won himself.

Still, Kerry were in a strong position at the break with a 1-9 to 0-6 lead and tacked on two points early in the second-half.

Mayo had two great goal chances in this period but Darren McHugh's point blank shot was well saved and Farrell was just wide of the upright.

Hickey punished them with his second goal to all but seal Kerry's victory in the 38th minute. It was a cracker too as he deftly lobbed the ball over Mayo's advancing goalkeeper Blake Forkan with a left footed chip to put his side 2-11 to 0-6 ahead.

James Walsh, Jeff O'Donoghue, goalkeeper Shane Murphy and Tadhg Morley added late points as Kerry eased to success.

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Scorers for Kerry: T Hickey (2-4, one free), A O'Donoghue (0-4), C Cox (0-2, two frees), B Crowley (0-2), K Spillane, P O'Connor, J Walsh, J O'Donoghue, S Murphy (one 45) and T Morley (0-1 each).

Scorers for Mayo: Andrew Farrell (0-5, two frees), Michael Togher (0-2), Damien McGing, Eoin O'Donoghue and Declan Healy (0-1 each).

Kerry: S Murphy; D Culhane, J McGuire, D O'Donoghue; T Morley, J Walsh, G Crowley; B O'Sullivan, L Kearney; P O'Connor, B Crowley, K Spillane; T Hickey, C Cox, A O'Donoghue.

Subs: B Sugrue for McGuire (h/t), J O'Donoghue for Cox (35), G O'Sullivan for Spillane (39), M Brennan for O'Sullivan (42, black card), E Kiely for Kearney (49), D Griffin for B Crowley (53).

Mayo: B Forkan; B Leonard, D McHugh, P Barrett; E O'Donoghue, B Moran, E Collins; P Collins, P Feerick; D Durcan, C Freeman, G Conway; D McGing, J Hutton, R Malee.

Subs: A Farrell for Malee (8), S Gaughan for Leonard (24), M Barrett for Gaughan (28, black card), M Forde for Durcan (h/t), D Healy for Moran (48), M Togher for Collins (50).

Referee: N Mooney (Cavan).

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