Kerry beat Mayo to book All-Ireland SFC semi-final date with Dublin

After the storm, the calm.

ow could even Kerry and Mayo, purveyors of so much great drama in the recent past, countenance living up to the absorbing two-and-a-half hours served up by Galway and Armagh before that.

And with so many of the huge Armagh crowd vacating after their team’s demise on penalties the atmosphere nosedived and consequently had an impact on this second All-Ireland quarter-final before 71,353.

Kerry won all too easily with Mayo once again not making spells of dominance count on the scoreboard, especially just after half-time when they might have applied more pressure.

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Brian Ó Beaglaíoch of Kerry in action against Cillian O’Connor of Mayo during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Croke Park, Dublin. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

It had the feel of a drunk swinging punches in a late night bar as the bouncers calmly ushered them off the premises. A lot of intent but no real coherence and so much of their play similar to last year’s All-Ireland final against Tyrone.

In the end Kerry pulled away comfortably, the power of their bench in evidence as they rolled off Killian Spillane, Paul Murphy, Micheal Burns, Joe O’Connor and Tony Brosnan to make it safe.

But for a long time they looked like the undercooked team they would privately have feared they might be, having had little competitive action since the league final in early April, struggling for any great fluency.

David Moran rolled back the years though with a fine display in his first competitive start for 10 months while Tom O’Sullivan popped up to score three points, one of which probably should have been a goal on 56 minutes after great approach work from Sean O’Shea, while also keeping tabs on Cillian O’Connor at the other end.

O’Sullivan outscored O’Connor from play by 0-3 to 0-1 which paints its own picture.

While acknowledging the absence of Ryan O’Donoghue and Tommy Conroy, Mayo’s two dynamic inside forwards, Kerry will still be pleased that they curtailed Mayo to 13 points, their average concession during the league and the same figure they held them to in the league final.

David Clifford started, offsetting much of the speculation around his fitness beforehand but there was an early scare when he appeared to stand on a ball and jarred his right lower leg and looked uncomfortable in several follow up contests.

For much of the first half his marker Oisín Mullin had the better of him, especially in one-to-one contests where the ball was in dispute.

But just as he did in the league final Clifford was able to conjure magic from a wide position, teeing up Stephen O’Brien initially and then racing on to his shoulder to take a return on 28 minutes and spin away from Paddy Durcan for another stunning goal to add to the growing collection.

No sign of any lingering issue in that moment but credit to O’Brien too for the patience he showed to wait for the right opportunity.
It gave Kerry the lead again after they had briefly fallen behind to a Stephen Coen point, 0-7 to 0-6, just a minute earlier.

Neither side could really claim initiative for any prolonged spell in the opening half.

Kerry players put in some crunching tackles, Sean O’Shea, Gavin White and Diarmuid O’Connor, especially to turn possession over but Kerry struggled for any real momentum up front and it was left to some individual excellence, Moran and Sean O’Shea in particular showing neat footwork for points.

By the break it was 1-7 to 0-9 and Mayo may feel they should have led after Kevin McLoughlin’s shot screamed over from close range three minutes into added time.

They had a spell of pressure just after half-time but from six attacks scored just one point from Jordan Flynn. Lee Keegan, Flynn, Matthew Ruane wides, a shot off the post from Patrick Durcan and a shot dropped short from O’Connor hurt them.

James Carr did nudge them close again on 48 minutes with a point but from there Kerry stepped it up and outscored their opponents by 0-8 to 0-1.

For Mayo’s it’s a disappointing end to a poor season and afterwards the sight of Keegan and McLoughlin in particular lingering on the pitch begged the question as to whether they will commit to being back on this stage again.

Kerry will feel the benefit of the game but Clifford was taken off as a precaution at the end and Diarmuid O’Connor also replaced because of injury. They’ll need every one and more for two weeks’ time.

Scorers – Kerry: D Clifford 1-3 (0-2m 0-1f), S O’Shea (1f) 0-4, P Geaney (1m) T O’Sullivan 0-3 each, D Moran 0-2, G White, G O’Sullivan, K Spillane 0-1 each. Mayo: C O’Connor 0-3 (2fs), J Flynn 0-2, K McLoughlin, J Carney, M Ruane, A O’Shea, R Hennelly (f), C Loftus, J Carr, S Coen all 0-1 each.

Kerry: S Ryan; T O’Sullivan, J Foley, B O’Beaglaoich; G O’Sullivan, T Morley, G White; D Moran, D O’Connor; D Moynihan, S O’Shea, S O’Brien; P Clifford, D Clifford, P Geaney.

K Spillane for Moynihan (48), P Murphy for O Beaglaoich (57), M Burns for O’Brien (59), J O’Connor for D O’Connor inj (65), T Brosnan for D Clifford (67), G Crowley for Foley temporary (73).

Mayo: R Hennelly; E Hession, O Mullin, L Keegan; P Durcan, S Coen, E McLaughlin; J Flynn, M Ruane; C Loftus, K McLoughlin, D O’Connor; J Carney, A O’Shea, C O’Connor. Subs: J Carr for Carney (h-t), F Boland for Loftus (51), A Orme for McLoughlin (57), P O’Hora for O’Shea (64), J Doherty for C O’Connor (69), A Orme for Towey temporary (73).

Referee: D Gough (Meath).

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