What a difference a week makes. I wondered if the Kerry jersey would bring out a performance? That opinion was more in hope than expectation, because Mayo seemed so off the pace against Monaghan, that I felt they surely couldn't turn it around in a week especially against a Kerry team that hit the ground running the previous week in Donegal.
But football is funny, not many gave Mayo a chance and then Stephen Rochford's team went and turned the form book on its head and made a mockery of the generous 9/4 odds the bookmakers offered on them before throw in. I'm sure the in-play odds increased drastically after Barry John Keane netted for Kerry to put them six points to the good in the first half. Any competitive victory against Kerry is special, to achieve one, away from home, when expectation is low and your backs are to the wall and six points down, is very special and our troops must be applauded for that. The Monaghan game is a distant memory now.
We will not get too carried away however, Kerry could have been out of sight at half time as they tore strips out of the Mayo defence boring holes right down the middle on several occasions. This could have been a rout, a penalty save by David Clarke and Kerry players electing to take points instead of goals kept Mayo in the game, Clarke's performances this year rubber stamping why he is the country's number one keeper.
Andy shows his class again
For those of you suggesting that it was time time to put Andy Moran out to pasture not so long ago, I'm sure you feel a little silly now. Andy is probably not going to last 70 minutes in a frantic Croke Park cauldron, but on Saturday evening last he rolled back the years to put in a vintage Andy Moran performance, terrorising Kerry fullback Mark Griffin in the process. His experience is invaluable, he will not out-sprint many, but when he gets his frame in front of you he almost always wins the ball and protects it like its his child. He rarely coughs up possession and almost always makes the right decision be it with a pass or taking on a shot. He deservedly won the man of the match award scoring three from play. Cillian O'Connor scored a whopping nine points from frees but will still be annoyed at himself for missing a few more that were well within his jurisdiction.
Mayo's second half revival was helped mainly in kind to clogging up the middle third and stopping Kerry runners penetrating from deep, something that reaped rewards for The Kingdom in the first half, creating numerous goal chances and luckily from a Mayo viewpoint not taking them and Mayo’s guile and intensity most notably in the second half was such an improvement from the previous week.
The only sour note to come out of the game was the red card issued to Mayo midfielder Tom Parsons. Upon watching the replay of the incident ten times in slow motion Parsons simply went in to assist team mate Shane Nally who was after receiving an accidental knee to the head, he simply shoved Donnacha Walsh out of the way and then held two Kerry players at arms' length in the aftermath. He was stunned when the card happy Padraig Hughes issued him with a straight red as the incident merited a yellow at best. If the card is upheld Parsons will miss the league clash against Roscommon, I presume an appeal will be lodged as Parsons has a pristine disciplinary record and does not want a red card against his name.
The day of the underdog
Last Saturday was certainly a day for the underdog, apart from Mayo's victory in Tralee, Tyrone almost ended Dublin’s 30-game unbeaten run with the Dubs' snatching a draw at the death. There were two other huge upsets in the club semi finals where Slaughtneil defeated hot favourites St Vincent’s and widely fancied Corofin got trounced by Dr Crokes. I was at the Corofin and Crokes game on Saturday afternoon and couldn't believe what I witnessed as the Kerry champions tore into Corofin. With a full forward line of Kieran O'Leary Daithi Casey and Colm Cooper you'll always have a chance. It’s not often you'll see the Gooch overshadowed at club level but O’Leary was on a different level scoring five points from play. Kerry must have a serious bit of fire power if Casey and O'Leary are surplus to requirements in the kingdom. They ripped Corofin to pieces.
The Covies' big day out
Westport's bid to become the first Mayo club team to win the All Ireland Intermediate title on Sunday and only the third club in Mayo to claim a national title in the mens' game after Crossmolina and Ballina won at senior level. They find themselves in the unusual position of being 8/15 favourites to overcome St Colmcilles of Meath in Croke Park, this is on the back of being 4/1 rank outsiders for their semi-final win over Kerry’s, Kenmare. As long as complacency is left behind I expect we will have All Ireland champions within the county by Sunday evening. Best of luck boys.