Kerry’s bid for a sixth consecutive All-Ireland minor football title is over as Galway, with a strong final quarter effort, ended the Kingdom’s 34-game unbeaten run at this level.
With the Munster champions having landed four points in the two minutes after half-time to turn a two-point interval deficit into a two-point lead, one simply expected James Costello’s charges to push on and secure the county’s place in a sixth consecutive All-Ireland minor final.
But credit to the Galway youngsters, they stayed the course and the sides were level on three occasions in the second period before a Tomo Culhane point on 53 minutes shoved them into a 0-13 to 0-12 lead, the first time Galway had been in front since the 31st minute.
What will gnaw away most at Kerry in the days ahead is that they had ample chances in the closing stages to get back on level terms but were so wasteful in front of goal.
Following’s Culhane’s white flag, Kerry kicked three wides while a Gearóid Hassett shot came back off the post. They finished with 12 wides.
Galway sub Darragh Kennedy stretched the winners two in front in second-half stoppages and while Dylan Geaney quickly halved the gap, what was Kerry’s first score in a quarter of an hour, they were unable to find an equaliser.
This was Kerry's first defeat in a minor championship fixture since August 4 of 2013, their conquerors Galway now go on to meet Cork in the final.
Galway were ahead by 0-7 to 0-5 at the break, a lead they would have been more than thankful for given Kerry had more possession and created the greater number of chances.
The Kingdom finished the first-half with a wides tally of five, compared to Galway’s three, as well as failing to put away either of the goal chances they engineered for themselves early on. On both occasions, Galway ‘keeper Donie Halleran was responsible for keeping the green flag stuck in the Croke Park sod.
The Tribesmen also prised open the opposition rearguard for a green flag opportunity, Kerry number one Devon Burks getting down well to his left to push away Daniel O’Flaherty’s effort.
O’Flaherty and his midfield partner James McLaughlin, in particular, won plenty of ball in the middle third, while the running of Daniel Cox, who, despite wearing 15, roamed here, there and everywhere caused James Costello’s charges much bother.
The sides were deadlocked at 0-3 apiece 11 minutes in, but with four of the next five scores kicked by boys in maroon saw the westerners open up a three-point advantage. Nathan Grainger, Tomo Culhane (two frees), and Cian Hernon were all on target for Dónal Ó Fátharta’s side to leave the scoreboard reading 0-7 to 0-4 after 22 minutes.
A beautiful kick off the left from Jack O’Connor thereafter left two between them at the break and although Kerry moved in front early in the second period, they were unable to hold the inside lane all the way to the line.
Scorers for Galway: T Culhane (0-6, 0-4 frees); W Seoige, D Brady (0-2 each); C Hernon, N Grainger, D Cox, D Kennedy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Kerry: D Lynch, D Geaney, E O’Shea (0-3 each); J O’Connor (0-2); S O’Brien C Crowley (0-1 each).
Galway: D Halleran (Cortoon Shamrocks); J McGrath (Caherlistrane), R King (Clifden), L Tevnan (Northern Gaels); C Hernon (Bearna), E Fiorentini (St Michael’s), K O’Neill (Caherlistrane); J McLaughlin (Moycullen), D O’Flaherty (Salthill/Knocknacarra); E Nolan (Salthill/Knocknacarra), W Seoige (Naomh Anna Leitir Móir), D Brady (Corofin); N Grainger (Claregalway), T Culhane (Salthill/Knocknacarra), D Cox (Moycullen).
Subs: C Gallagher (St Michael’s) for O’Flaherty (39 mins); N Cunningham (St Gabriel’s) for Grainger (48); J Webb (Oughterard) for O’Neill (52); D Kennedy for Nolan (57)
Kerry: D Burns (Na Gaeil); L Chester (Austin Stacks), A Dineen (Rathmore), K O'Sullivan (Cromane); E O'Sullivan (Legion), A Curran (Austin Stacks), S O'Brien (Beaufort); C Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht), R Collins (Gneeveguilla); G Hassett (Laune Rangers), C Crowley (Templenoe), D Lynch (Listowel); E O’Shea (Fossa), J O‘Connor (Beaufort), D Geaney (Dingle).
Subs: D O’Callaghan (Firies) for Crowley (39 mins); J Linehan (Churchill) for Lynch (45); K Goulding (Ballyduff) for O’Shea (55); T Ó hAiniféin (Na Gaeil) for Collins (58); R O’Grady (Legion) for Geaney (63).
Referee: M McNally (Monaghan).