By John Fogarty
Mayo 2-16 Kerry 0-17
A stunning Mayo performance put an out-of-sorts Kerry out of their misery in a thoroughly deserving All-Ireland semi-final replay win.
The All-Ireland final against Dublin or Tyrone will be Mayo’s 10th game this summer but it was they who looked to have all the energy and vim as they led from the 14th minute until the end as they beat the Kingdom at the ninth time of asking, their first since 1996.
Watched by a 53,032 Croke Park crowd, Kerry’s defeat will leave a bitter taste in the mouth not least for the two sendings off they picked up, Kieran Donaghy red carded at the end for striking Aidan O’Shea after Peter Crowley had picked up two yellow cards.
Mayo were as far as eight points ahead, 2-9 to 0-7, when Andy Moran in the 37th minute collected a high ball in from Conor Loftus, turned Shane Enright and completed a nifty one-two with Cillian O’Connor to finish with poise.
Kerry did fight back to half that advantage and were denied three times in the space of five seconds in the 45th minute when Keith Higgins, David Clarke and Colm Boyle all stopped shots. Boyle also did well to block Geaney from finding the goal minutes earlier.
Substitute Darran O’Sullivan was black carded, selector and maor foirne Liam Hassett was sent to the stand and while Cillian O’Connor was also black carded minutes later and Patrick Durcan picked up a second yellow card there was no denying Mayo as Kerry were largely reduced to frees in their attempt at a comeback.
Kerry had made three changes to their announced team, Jonathan Lyne replacing Mark Griffin, Jack Barry coming in for Anthony Maher and Tom O’Sullivan named ahead of James O’Donoghue. Clearly, Kerry were going to commit more to defence and Paul Murphy acted as sweeper but they trailed 0-3 to 0-1 after eight minutes.
Kerry settled with three points on the bounce, two of them from Paul Geaney, but Mayo then struck three of their own without reply and the Munster champions would go 14 minutes without a score. Even after that spell was broken, Kerry went a further three points behind when Diarmuid O’Connor followed in a short Donie Vaughan point attempt to palm past Brian Kelly.
The Kerry goalkeeper cut a tormented figure in the first half, spooked by poor restarts and even put a kick-out passed his end-line for a 45 in the 28th minute.
Crowley could have cancelled out that O’Connor goal almost immediately but struck his shot wide of Clarke’s far post. A Chris Barrett point put Mayo five up before Geaney finished off the first-half scoring with a free, making it 1-8 to 0-6 at half-time.
Scorers for Mayo: C. O’Connor (0-6, frees); A. Moran (1-1); D. O’Connor (1-0); J. Doherty (0-3, 1 free, 1 45); K. McLoughlin, C. Loftus (0-2 each); C. Barrett, P. Durcan (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: P. Geaney (0-10, 8 frees); J. O’Donoghue (0-3, 1 free); J. Lyne, J. Buckley, J. Barry, F. Fitzgerald (0-1 each).
MAYO: D. Clarke; A. O’Shea, B. Harrison; D. Vaughan; C. Barrett, L. Keegan, K. Higgins, C. Boyle; S. O’Shea, T. Parsons; K. McLoughlin, D. O’Connor; C. O’Connor, A. Moran, J. Doherty.
Subs for Mayo: P. Durcan for D. Vaughan (35+3); C. Loftus for D. O’Connor (h-t); C. O’Shea for C. O’Connor (black, 52); S. Coen for S. O’Shea (61); D. Kirby for C. Boyle (69); G. Cafferkey for C. Barrett (70+4).
Red card: P. Durcan (second yellow, 70+3).
KERRY: B. Kelly; K. Young, S. Enright, T. Morley; P. Murphy; J. Lyne, P. Crowley, T. O’Sullivan; D. Moran, J. Barry; D. Walsh, J. Buckley (c), S. O’Brien; P. Geaney, K. Donaghy.
Subs for Kerry: D. O’Sullivan for J. Buckley, J. O’Donoghue for D. Walsh (both h-t); F. Fitzgerald for S. Enright (39); J. Savage for D. O’Sullivan (black, 45); M. Griffin for K. Young (51); B.J. Keane for T. O’Sullivan (63); A. Maher for J. Barry (blood, 66).
Sent off: P. Crowley (second yellow, 63); K. Donaghy (straight, 70+4).
Referee: D. Gough (Meath).)