Kerry game came a year too soon for Galway

The groan that echoed around the ground at the 70-minute mark was perhaps the most vocal reaction inspired by this lacklustre game before an audience of 65,000.

At least six minutes of time were to be added to a one-sided contest that brought an end to an ultimately disappointing Championship season for Galway’s footballers.

Another six minutes to prolong the misery they had endured all afternoon at the hands of a Kerry team who fancy their chances of toppling Dublin.

Promotion and Div Two secured, after beating Mayo in the semi-final in June, it was felt Galway would offer more than they eventually delivered in this year’s championship, but they exit it with regrets, lots of regrets.

Time after time they ran at the Kerry defence and opened them up, creating goal chances that would have brought them back into a tie not many ever gave them a chance of winning.

And time after time, through a combination of a lack of composure and good goalkeeping, they spurned each one.

The Kingdom’s custodian Brian Kelly excelled on each occasion, firmly meeting and beating out several goalbound shots, but if the truth be told, at this level, Galway should have hit the net three or four times.

And although those scores would have made it more of a contest at various stages during the game the feeling abounded that even if Galway had managed to hit those three goals, that Kerry would have probably responded with four.

It was a game that Kerry won easing up, without ever needing to enter first gear. Galway’s last Championship win over Kerry was in the year I was born, and no stage here did it look like that sorry 52-year-run would end.

Galway had chances to make an impact in the game but spurned them all, while at the back they were as sieve-like as they had been all through the games with Mayo and Roscommon.

Kieran Donaghy tormented Galway throughout, topping this with his stunning goal, and having not learned the lessons, the Galway defence stood off as he nearly followed it up with a second a minute later.

Throughout the game, Kerry played well within themselves, being wasteful on many occasions when they could have put this game to bed. A team accustomed to starting their season from this point, they weren’t going to waste gunpowder on swatting aside Galway when there are bigger fish to fry in the coming eight weeks.

After ten minutes, it was obvious that the gulf in class would be key — after all, it was the Division One champs against the Division Two champs.

They built up a lead that they never relinquished, and allowed Galway chance after chance to make it a contest, but it was an invitation they never considered.

For a period late in the first half, they outscored the Munster champions, as Kerry eased up, allowing glimpses of light for the Tribesmen, but they were all snatched at. And missed.

Still with the gap at four points for a long time, the game cried out for a Galway goal, but it never came.

Changes in defence from the last day allowed Donaghy the freedom to catch the ball and cause havoc, whereas a better tactic might have been to crowd him out and lessen his effect.

Just when Kerry had built a strong lead, their minds perhaps moved to other days, as they dropped their composure and allowed Galway openings that would have been punished by a better team.

Ian Burke and Damien Comer should have done better with their goal chances, and as each opportunity was squandered, Kerry just kept tapping away, adding points until their lead of eight was sufficient reward to carry them over the line.

And so a season that offered so much ends with a damp squib. But there is much cause for optimism.

What this Galway team needs is more football. Football at a higher level. At times, this afternoon they showed signs of being a Division Two team; not having that top level quickness of thought to convert the chances that so rarely come against top top sides.

When they resume duties next winter and prepare for their campaign in Division One, they will do so with a plethora of raw material that will be honed in the games in Spring.

That experience will stand by them when they embark on next year’s championship when they will seek to set out a path that will see them into the Super Eight round, that will replace the quarter finals in next year’s All-Ireland series.

A lot done, a lot more to do.

Scorers for Kerry: Kieran Donaghy 1-1, Paul Geaney 0-4 (1f ), Johnny Buckley 0-2, Paul Murphy 0-2, David Moran 0-2, Stephen O'Brien 0-2,  Barry John Keane 0-2, James O'Donoghue 0-1 (0-1f ), Donnchadh Walsh 0-1, Jack Savage 0-1.

Scorers for Galway: Ian Burke 0-5 (1f ), Sean Armstrong 0-4 (1f ), Eamonn Brannigan 0-1, Shane Walsh 0-1 (0-1f ), Michael Daly 0-1, Johnny Heaney 0-1.

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