Kerry battle to final berth in replay thriller




Kerry 3-16 Mayo 3-13 (aet)

Kerry qualified for their first All-Ireland final since 2011 after a gripping extra-time victory for the Kingdom over Mayo in the Gaelic Grounds with James O’Donoghue hitting 2-6.

The game was a fantastic display of flowing football that ebbed and flowed before Kerry came good in extra-time to clinch a place in the final.

Mayo had a stiff breeze at their backs in the first-half and Cillian O’Connor’s free had them in front inside a minute.

Paul Geaney replied with a free of his own for the Kingdom and when James O’Donoghue scored in the 13th minute it looked as if Kerry were going to frustrate their opponents similar to last week’s first-half.

However, Aidan O’Shea hit a high ball into O’Connor on the edge of the Kerry square and when Shane Enright dragged him down Cormac Reilly blew for a penalty.

For the second time in six days, O’Connor made no mistake from the spot and Mayo were back in command.

A Mayo onslaught followed with O’Connor hitting an unanswered 1-2 in the next four minutes, the goal coming courtesy of an assist from Aidan O’Shea.

Paul Geaney’s second free made the score 2-3 to 0-3 to Mayo after 27 minutes and moments later Kieran Donaghy hammered home an O’Donoghue blocked effort to the net.

Jason Doherty got Mayo’s first score in 12 minutes with a point and further points from Killian Young, Doherty and another Paul Geaney free had the scores at 2-5 to 1-5 to Mayo at half-time.

There were a raft of substitutions at the break for Mayo and Alan Freeman, who was on as a blood-sub for O’Connor, got the first point of the half from a free but this was to be their last for 14 minutes.

In the meantime, Kerry reeled off 1-3 with James O’Donoghue’s major coming from a penalty after he was dragged down by Colm Boyle.

When Mayo eventually got back on track, it was Andy Moran’s opportunistic goal following a high ball that deceived Kerry goalkeeper Barry Kelly which gave Mayo a one-point lead at 3-6 to 2-8 with 19 minutes remaining.

O’Donoghue settled Kerry once more with a point but scores from Andy Moran and O’Connor gave Mayo a two-point lead.

Doherty and O’Donoghue traded points before Kerry won another penalty as Ger Cafferkey tripped O’Donoghue who was in on goal.

O’Donoghue was once more reliable from the spot and Kerry raced into a 3-11 to 2-9 lead before Mickey Conroy brought it back to a point.

Donal Vaughan sensationally drew the teams level deep into injury-time and Rob Hennelly’s free nearly won it for them with the last kick of the game.

The teams finished normal time at 3-11 to 3-11 and points from Cillian O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin retained Mayo’s momentum at the start of extra-time.

Barry John Keane steadied the ship for Kerry with a free after five minutes and second contentious free from him in the ninth minute brought the sides level for the fifth time and they remained at 3-13 to 3-13 going in at half-time in extra-time.

Kerry made in four-in-a-row as substitute Jonathan Lynne and Paul Geaney got points in the first six minutes of the second period.

Lynne’s second score put Kerry in control and temper’s strayed as Mayo won a free close in with a huge melee causing supporters to enter the field with Anthony Maher and Donaghy seeing yellow for the Kingdom.

O’Connor had a chance from the free but his free was blocked and when the ball found its way back up to the Kerry goalmouth another schmozzle ensued with O’Connor seeing red.

Ultimately Kerry were two point victors but the scenes at the end were regrettable.

SCORERS:

Kerry: J O’Donoghue 2-6 (2-0 pen, 0-2f), K Donaghy 1-0, P Geaney 0-4 (0-3f), B J Keane 0-2 (0-2f), J Lynne 0-2, K Young and M O’Se 0-1 each.

Mayo: C O’Connor 2-5 (1-0 pen, 0-3f), A Moran 1-1, J Doherty 0-3, A Freeman 0-1 (0-1f), M Conroy, D Vaughan and K McLoughlin 0-1 each.

Kerry: B Kelly; P Murphy, A O'Mahony (B Sheahan 83), S Enright (M O Se 22); K Young, P Crowley, F Fitzgerald (P Kilkenny B-C 42); A Maher, D Moran; M Geaney (K O’Leary 61), J Buckley (D O’Sullivan 55), D Walsh (J Lynne 70); K Donaghy, P Geaney (B J Keane 42), J O'Donoghue.

Mayo: R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, G Cafferkey (K Keane 68), K Higgins; L Keegan, C Boyle (C Barrett 83), D Vaughan (B Harrison 79); B Moran (T Parsons 35), S O’Shea; K McLoughlin, A O'Shea (M Conroy B-S 35-48) (R Feeney 70), J Doherty; C O'Connor (A Freeman B-S 35-42), A Moran (Freeman 70), A Dillon (M Conroy 57).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)

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