Kerry’s first national final victory in five years and first win in Croke Park since 2019 came with relative ease this afternoon.
Up 1-10 to 0-7 at half-time, the loss of Diarmuid O’Connor to a black card midway through the second half didn’t upset their dominance against an indifferent Mayo side.
Kerry outscored Mayo 0-4 to 0-1 while they were numerically disadvantaged, David Clifford producing two terrific points from either side of the field.
Mayo, down five potential championship starters including Oisín Mullin who was a late cry-off, were delighted to welcome back Cillian O’Connor to action after 10 months on the sidelines.
However, they had little else to cheer as David Clifford and Paul Geaney shredded their defence, the latter roasting Pádraig O’Hora for a coup de grace goal in the 66th minute. All of the starting Kerry attack had scored from play by the 49th minute and Jason Foley added a late goal after Tony Brosnan’s shot was parried in his direction.
Michael Plunkett had been off the mark after just 23 seconds for them but Kerry had the better of the opening quarter and led by 0-6 to 0-3 after 17 minutes. They had a couple of goal opportunities too, Paudie Clifford stopped by Rory Byrne in the fifth minute and David Clifford whistled for a square ball four minutes later.
It hardly deterred Kerry as they rattled off the next three scores before Conor Loftus had a chance at the other end as he reacted to Jack Carney’s shot coming off the post. James Carr picked up off the first of two first-half points soon after but Mayo were already chasing.
The difference was three points when Gavin White palmed in the first goal of the game in the 24th minute, the wing-back initially breaking three tackles to engineer the move. He offloaded to Paul Geaney whose shot was half-blocked by Byrne and hung long enough in the air for White to finish to the net although he took a heavy hit in doing so.
The margin was as much as seven but was reduced to six when Byrne again stopped Paudie Clifford in the 32nd minute. Conor Loftus cut Mayo’s deficit to four in the 33rd minute but David Clifford and Shane Ryan concluded the scoring in the first half.
D. Clifford (1-6, 0-1 free); P. Geaney (0-5, 1 free); G. White, J. Foley (1-0 each); P. Clifford (1 45), A. Spillane (0-2 each); S. O’Brien, J. Barry, S. Ryan (free), D. Moynihan (0-1 each).
R. O’Donoghue (0-5, 3 frees); J. Carr, M. Plunkett (0-2 each); M. Ruane, J. Flynn, C. Loftus, C. O’Connor (0-1 each).
S. Ryan; J. Foley, G. O’Sullivan, T. O’Sullivan; B. Ó Beaglaoich, T. Morley, G. White; D. O’Connor, J. Barry; D. Moynihan, P. Clifford, A. Spillane; P. Geaney, D. Clifford (c), S. O’Brien.
G. Crowley for G. White (temp 27-32); T. Brosnan for S. O’Brien (49); G. Crowley for G. White (53); M. Burns for A. Spillane (63); J. O’Connor for J. Barry, J. Savage for D. Moynihan (both 66).
Black card: D. O’Connor (52-63).
R. Byrne; S. Coen (c), P. O’Hora, L. Keegan; M. Plunkett, R. Brickenden, E. Hession; J. Flynn, M. Ruane; C. Loftus, A. O’Shea, J. Carney; R. O’Donoghue, J. Doherty, J. Carr.
K. McLoughlin for J. Carney (h-t); C. O’Shea for J. Flynn (inj 47); A. Orme for J. Doherty (50); C. O’Connor for J. Carr (56); D. McHale for M. Ruane (66).
N. Mooney (Cavan).