All-Ireland SFC semi-final replay: mighty Mayo silence Kingdom

August 26, 2017

Mayo's Cillian O'Connor and Killian Young of Kerry.
©INPHO/James Crombie.

Mayo are through to the 2017 All-Ireland senior football final following a magnificent 2-16 to 0-17 victory over Kerry at Croke Park.

With 53,032 in attendance on a glorious afternoon at GAA HQ, Stephen Rochford's men were in complete control from the off, playing the game on their own terms and deservedly advancing to a massive meeting with either Dublin or Tyrone next month. Diarmuid O'Connor and Andy Moran netter either side of half time as Kerry's defence looked every bit as vulnerable as it had in the drawn game six days ago.

The outstanding Colm Boyle epitomised Mayo's heart and drive, producing an immense display, but Mayo had heroes all over the field, while their illustrious opponents looked bedraggled, dazed and confused. They finished the match with 13 men as Peter Crowley picked up a second yellow card before Kieran Donaghy was shown a straight red by David Gough for striking Aidan O'Shea, who marshalled him well for most of the 70+ minutes.

Paddy Durcan's late second yellow meant that Mayo also finished the game without the full complement but they were a delirious bunch as the final whistle signalled their first championship defeat of Kerry in 21 years and sealed their ticket to the Sam Maguire Cup decider after taking a scenic nine-game route, including two replay victories and two wins after extra time.

The winners were utterly dominant in the first half and were full value for their five-point interval advantage, 1-8 to 0-6, with Diarmuid O'Connor fisting to the net at the Hill 16 end in the 28th minute when he beat Brian Kelly to the dropping ball accruing from Donal Vaughan's under-hit shot.

Kerry chased shadows for the first 35 minutes and could consider themselves very fortunate to be still in contention at the short whistle.

There was high drama even prior to throw-in when it emerged that there would be three late changes to the Kingdom's starting XV: Jonathan Lyne, Jack Barry and Tom O'Sullivan all came in from the start in place of Mark Griffin, Anthony Maher and James O'Donoghue. This meant the Munster champions started with seven backs and five forwards!

Cillian O'Connor opened the scoring from a second-minute free won by Lee Keegan and then popped over his second in response to a Lyne point at the other end. With the Kerry defence all at sea, Andy Moran added the third but Kerry replied from a soft Paul Geaney free, engineered by Donaghy.

Geaney punctuated a flowing Kerry move with a tidy levelling point and Johnny Buckley landed an excellent score to edge the Kingdom ahead for the first and only time.

O'Connor's third free and a poked Kevin McLoughlin finish saw the Connacht county move back ahead; O'Connor's fourth pointed free doubled the difference in the 17th minute and Kerry's negative mind-set was encapsulated by a Kelly goal-kick which he bizarrely kicked wide of his own end-line for a Mayo '45'.

O'Connor converted his fifth free ten minutes from the break and his brother's major made it double scores before Chris Barrett and Geaney (free) exchanged scores to complete the first half scoring.

An O'Connor free at the start of the second half made it double scores again and half-time substitute O'Donoghue replied before Andy Moran played a one-two with Cillian O'Connor and dived in to palm the ball to an empty Kerry net - 2-9 to 0-7 after 37 minutes! The excellent, GPS-busting Boyle denied Geaney a Kingdom goal after the No.13 had reduced the arrears to seven points from a free.

Geaney pulled back another free on 45 minutes and Mayo goalkeeper David Clarke - whose distribution was flawless throughout - executed a vital double save to deny both O'Brien and Geaney as the two goals continued to separate the teams. Up stepped Jason Doherty to increase that gap to seven.

Cillian O'Connor sat out the last 20 minutes after being black-carded for pulling down O'Brien … Barry closed the gap before substitutes Conor Loftus and Fionn Fitzgerald traded scores - 2-11 to 0-11 after 54 minutes.

Geaney notched his seventh point from a free with 15 minutes left but Doherty's free - won by Moran - restored the two-goal gap on 57 minutes. O'Donoghue pulled back a brace - a free and a superb point from play via the upright - but the Kingdom were reduced to 14 men for the last eight minutes when Crowley picked up his second yellow card - and a red.

Boyle's solo run reaped a Mayo '45', which Doherty converted. McLoughlin and Loftus hammered further nails in the Kerry coffin with lovely points; Geaney's three late frees (bringing is tally to ten) were no more than consolation scores, with Durcan on target in between. The latter was then dismissed for a second yellow and Donaghy also walked after he lost his cool deep into added time.

As Mayo advanced to their fourth All-Ireland final in six years, the roar that accompanied the full-time whistle was deafening.

Mayo - D Clarke; B Harrison, D Vaughan, C Barrett (0-1); K Higgins, C Boyle, L Keegan; S O'Shea, T Parsons; K McLoughlin (0-2), A O'Shea, D O'Connor (1-0); C O'Connor (0-6f), A Moran (1-1), J Doherty (0-3, 1f, 1'45). Subs: P Durcan (0-1) for D Vaughan, C Loftus (0-2) for D O'Connor, C O'Shea for C O'Connor (BC), S Coen for S O'Shea, D Kirby for C Boyle, G Cafferkey for C Barrett.

Kerry - B Kelly; T Morley, S Enright, K Young; J Lyne (0-1), P Crowley, T O'Sullivan; D Moran, J Barry (0-1); D Walsh, J Buckley (0-1), S O'Brien; P Geaney (0-10, 8f), K Donaghy, P Murphy. Subs: D O'Sullivan for D Walsh, J O'Donoghue (0-3, 1f) for J Buckley, F Fitzgerald (0-1) for S Enright, J Savage for D O'Sullivan (BC), M Griffin for K Young, B J Keane for T O'Sullivan.

Referee - D Gough.

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