Kerry 1-20 & nbsp; nbsp; nbsp; Mayo 1-11
They came in their thousands and thousands from Belmullet to Ballinrobe to Croke Park on Sunday, hoping to see something special. The just over 50,000 who filled the ground did see something special alright, but unfortunately for the massive Mayo crowd who made the trip it was Colm Cooper who was providing the highlights. The Dr Crokes man was simply outstanding for Kerry as they eased their way into yet another All Ireland final by nine points.
Mayo have come a long way since London at the end of May, but not far enough as Kerry in the second half pulled away from them long before the final whistle had blown. But there was hope at stages, a good showing early on had Mayo neck and neck with their opponents, but as the firs half wore on Kerry pushed up through the gears and Mayo couldn't find the torque in the engine to move at the same speed.
Even in the second half when the victors had pushed out into a 0-16 to 0-8 lead with 52 minutes on the clock, Mayo hearts were filled with belief when Cillian O'Connor danced and jigged his way past two men to fire the ball to the back of the net for a truly superb goal, crowning a fine debut season for the Ballintubber man. But that belief was hit with a knock out blow sixty seconds later when that man Cooper some how got his hands on the ball in the Mayo penalty area under pressure and twisted and turned to create enough space to fire it past Robert Hennelly and knock the wind out of Mayo's sails for good this time.
Thoughts of 2006 came flooding back as early as the 30th second when Darran O'Sullivan broke though the Mayo defence only to see Hennelly get his hand to the ball and put it out for a 45. A few minutes later O'Sullivan was through again, this time Hennelly's head did the necessary for Mayo. At that stage Mayo were leading by 0-3 to 0-2 thanks to a brace of points from Enda Varley and one from Cillian O'Connor. That lead was stretched to two in the 18th minute when the excellent Donal Vaughan got his first point of the afternoon. The Ballinrobe man put in a massive shift for Mayo along with the likes of Andy Moran and Ger Cafferkey, but their efforts weren't enough to stop the Munster champions. O'Connor and Darran O'Sullivan swapped points as Kerry began to find their momentum and Mayo tried to keep up with them.
Kevin McLoughlin covered across the back-line in a sweeping role, which hindered Mayo's midfield effort with the breaking ball count going in Kerry's favour all afternoon and putting Mayo on the back foot. Having the Knockmore man placed so far back, also gave Kerry the opportunity to take short kick outs and build from the back. The last 15 minutes of the first half saw Kerry push out into a 0-8 to 0-5 lead with Cooper leading the charge. Andy Moran swung over a great point just before the break to close the gap to two, but the Ballaghaderreen man will look back on the game and rue the fact he could have had three goals to his name if luck was on his side. Twice Brendan Kealy denied him, once in each half and he saw another effort come back off the post midway through the second half.
Kerry picked up where they left off at the start of the second half with Kieran O'Leary and Bryan Sheehan kicking early scores to push the lead out to four points. But Mayo fought back with points from Vaughan and Moran giving the crowd something to cheer about. But the next 12 minutes saw Kerry run riot and kick six unanswered points. They upped their performance levels and Mayo simply had no answer to it. They gave away free kick after free kick as they tried in vain to stop Kerry's flow.
O'Connor's goal did give hope and showed there was plenty of heart left in Mayo, but once Cooper responded with his own three point effort Mayo's breaking point had been reached and there was only going to be one winner. The heart was still there and Moran and Vaughan both had goal chances, but whenever it looked like Mayo might get back into it on the scoreboard Kerry were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over. This defeat will hurt for a while, but Mayo have come on leaps and bounds since last year and even since the start of the summer and when the ball is thrown in next year, there will be a renewed sense of optimism and hope the Mayo players after what they have learned about themselves this year.
Kerry: Brendan Kealy; Killian Young, Marc O Se, Tom O'Sullivan; Tomas O Se (0-1 ), Eoin Brosnan (0-1 ), Aidan O'Mahony; Anthony Maher, Bryan Sheehan (0-3 ); Darran O'Sullivan (0-1 ), Declan O'Sullivan, Donnchadh Walsh; Colm Cooper (1-7 ), Kieran Donaghy (0-2 ), Kieran O'Leary (0-2 ). Subs: Paul Galvin (0-2 ), James O'Donoghue, Daniel Bohan, Seamus Scanlon (0-1 ), Barry John Keane.
Mayo: Robert Hennelly; Tom Cunniffe, Ger Cafferkey, Keith Higgins; Richie Feeney, Donal Vaughan (0-3 ), Trevor Mortimer; Aidan O'Shea, Seamus O'Shea; Kevin McLoughlin, Alan Dillon, Andy Moran (0-2 ); Enda Varley (0-2 ), Alan Freeman, Cillian O'Connor (1-3 ). Subs: Ronan McGarrity, Lee Keegan (0-1 ), Aidan Campbell, Jason Doherty.