Kerry had ten points to spare against Mayo in a one-sided Super 8s clash in the Killarney sunshine - 1-22 to 0-15.
Victory edges the Munster champions within touching distance of the All-Ireland semi-finals, ahead of their mouth-watering meeting with Ulster kingpins Donegal in Croke Park next weekend, while Mayo – for whom today was a bridge too far - will have to pick themselves up ahead of must-win Round Two encounter with Meath on the same bill.
Delivering their best performance of the year, the winners produced a devastating first-half display to take a commanding nine-point advantage into the interval – 0-15 to 0-6.
Clad in gold, the glittering Kerry men started like a house on fire in the red-hot heat of Fitzgerald Stadium to lead by seven points to three inside ten minutes. Cillian O’Connor floated over the fourth Mayo point – their first score in ten minutes – and Kerry replied with points from James O’Donoghue and Clifford.
With 31,302 watching on, O’Donoghue’s point would have been more had not an outstanding David Clarke diving save deflected his goalbound rocket over the bar after Geaney gathered an excellent David Moran pass and picked him out.
Lee Keegan opened the scoring but the Kingdom reeled off four in a row through Sean O’Shea (free), Man of the Match David Clifford (2) and Geaney. Darren Coen and Fionn McDonagh reduced the arrears to the minimum but three uninterrupted O’Shea frees pushed the hosts four clear.
Moran cut inside onto his right foot to boom over a tremendous tenth Kerry point from the left wing in the 24th minute and the excellent Stephen O’Brien curled over another precise score 60 seconds later to make it 0-11 to 0-4 in favour of the ravenous hosts.
The gap was eight when Clifford dropped a magnificent free from an acute angle close to the right sideline onto the roof of the Mayo net, the visitors looking utterly unable to deal with Kerry’s intensity and swarming, suffocating high press.
Kerry were in the mood and Geaney walloped their seventh consecutive point off the top of the crossbar and over after O’Shea grabbed one from play off his left foot from out wide. Coen mustered a rare Mayo point but O’Brien quickly replied, O’Connor’s injury-time free closing the first-half scoring.
O’Connor also knocked over the first point of the second half but Clifford fisted the response and O’Shea’s free restored the ten-point gap, 0-17 to 0-7. Coen and O’Shea (free) traded points and O’Connor became the championship’s all-time top scorer with a brace, also rattling the crossbar in between.
The game was over long before Geaney palmed O'Brien's centre to the Mayo net 14 minutes from the end, Shane Ryan’s excellent diving save denying O’Connor a consolation goal from the penalty spot in the 68th minute. O’Brien’s third point on the hour had stretched the gap out to 13 and, even though they reduced the scoring difference with points from Andy Moran, Fergal Boland and Ciaran Treacy, in truth Mayo had looked a beaten docket since the tenth minute.
Clifford capped his magnificent display with a seventh point on 66 minutes and substitute Graham O’Sullivan closed the scoring deep into added time.
Kerry - S Ryan; T O'Sullivan, J Foley, T Morley; P Murphy, S Enright, G Crowley; D Moran (0-1), A Spillane; G White, S O’Shea (0-7, 6f), S O’Brien (0-3); P Geaney (1-2), D Clifford (0-7, 2f), J O’Donoghue (0-1). Subs: D Moynihan for J O’Donoghue, G O’Sullivan (0-1) for S Enright, D O’Connor for A Spillane, B O Beaglaoich for J Foley, M Burns for P Geaney, M Griffin for G Crowley.
Mayo - D Clarke; K Higgins, B Harrison, C Barrett; L Keegan (0-1), S Coen, C Boyle; D Vaughan, A O’Shea; F McDonagh (0-1), K McLoughlin, J Doherty; C O’Connor (0-6, 3f, 1pen), D Coen (0-3), J Carr. Subs: S O’Shea for F McDonagh, A Moran (0-2) for J Carr, C Treacy (0-1) for K McLoughlin, F Boland (0-1) for D Coen, J McCormack for L Keegan, E O’Donoghue for C Barrett.
Referee - S Hurson.Tweet