Kerry were too good for Galway - again

Galway's Sean Armstrong takes a point watched by Shane Enright of Kerry  in the GAA Football ALL Ireland Senior Championship quarter-final in Croke Park on Sunday. 					Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Galway's Sean Armstrong takes a point watched by Shane Enright of Kerry in the GAA Football ALL Ireland Senior Championship quarter-final in Croke Park on Sunday. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Sitting in the stand in Croke Park on Sunday afternoon after Kerry beat Galway easily by 1-18 to 0-13 in the All-Ireland quarter-final, it was hard not to feel quite deflated and disappointed.

Multiply that by 100 for the players and the management team as they are the ones who put in hundreds of hours of preparation, travel, training and work to try to have a productive and successful season. They will not have wanted their season to end as it did.

It was not being beaten that grated, but the sense that the team as a collective did not fully commit themselves to the challenge.

Almost every GAA supporter in the country expected Kerry would advance to the last four at Galway's expense, but we had travelled to Dublin in hope of a real contest, that Galway would really rattle into the Kerry lads and at least ask them some hard questions and make them produce some answers.

Instead the last quarter of the contest was played at a funeral pace as all and sundry knew that Kerry were home and hosed.

The Kingdom won with ease, and they were never really tested. Unfortunately in the last 20 minutes, it was only a question of by how much Eamon Fitzmaurice's team would win. There were even audible groans around the stadium when the six minutes of extra-time was announced.

Galway not clinical

The sad part is that if Galway had been a bit more clinical in front of goal, they could have at least made a contest out of the game.

Ian Burke, Damien Comer and Seán Armstrong all had reasonably good chances of hitting the back of Brian Kelly's net, but no green flag was raised.

Burke, who had a fine game, had a good opportunity to hit an early major for his team, but instead Kelly got an arm to Burke's shot and the ball sailed over for a point.

A goal at that juncture may have given Galway some belief to press on and rip into the Kerry lads.

Instead it was Kieran Donaghy who scored the game's only goal, and when that hit the back of Bernard Power's net after only 14 minutes, a Galway win looked improbable.

The major problems in Galway's full-back line have been well flagged all season and they were highlighted against Tipperary in last year's quarter-final loss too. It is a key issue that needs to be addressed before heading into division one football next season.

Solutions are not easy to find, but hopefully this year's U21 fullback Seán Andy Kelly will be available to join the panel in the autumn after a summer in America.

Other options might include youngsters such as Moycullen's Seán Kelly, minor full-back and captain Seán Mulkerrin, and hopefully more game time for young Cillian McDaid, who is a bright prospect.

Team manager Kevin Walsh acknowledged the cost of failing to retain the Connacht title, pitting his team against one of the “heavyweight” champions in the last eight.

“Our goal would have been to certainly try to get to the last four this year, maybe avoiding the top two along the way. Kerry are going to be in that top two in my opinion, but looking back at the chances we created, we needed to take one or two to really test them.”

Had Galway rattled the Kerry net on at least two occasions, then at least we would have been a contest worthy of an All-Ireland quarter-final.

Instead Kerry, who never really looked like they were out of third gear, always looked to be just doing enough to stay a few points ahead, and if needed, they could gear down to rattle over a few extra scores to keep the Galway lads in their place.

It was a disappointing way to sign off a season that had promised so much for Galway. The players know they did not really push on from their division two league title success and their victory in the championship over Mayo. Why they did not is hard to figure out, and only they may know the real answer.

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