We had the start of a bumper weekend of football in Croke Park this Saturday afternoon as Kerry faced-off with Mayo in their highly anticipated replay.
However, it was Mayo who got the win – 2-16 to 0-17. They play the winner of tomorrow’s clash between Dublin and Tyrone.
After last week’s draw, all eyes were on how the managers would line out their sides. Stephen Rochford opted to play Aidan O’Shea further up the field, starting in the middle while settling at centre-back, dropping deep to keep an eye on Kieran Donaghy.
Meanwhile, Éamonn Fitzmaurice made a big call in dropping James O’Donoghue, leaving the 2014 Footballer of the Year on the bench.
After an even opening ten minutes, Johnny Buckley kicked a super score to put the Kingdom 0-4 to 0-3 ahead – Kerry’s third point in a row.
However, within two minutes, Kevin McLoughlin had put the Connacht side in front with a fine score of his own.
Another Cillian O'Connor free has Mayo level before Kevin McLoughlin lands one from distance. It's 0-5 to 0-4 in Mayo's favour. #mayogaa
— Connaught Telegraph (@thecontel) August 26, 2017
Unreal pace to this match so far! Those are the matches players live for! #mayovkerry
— Paul O'Hea (@paul_ohea) August 26, 2017
There was also a surreal moment when the Kerry goalkeeper Brian Kelly took a kick-out – and ended up giving away a ’45!
A kick out that goes out for a 45. That's a new one.
— Donnchadh Boyle (@depboyle) August 26, 2017
Never seen a goalkeeper kick the ball out for a 45 from kick out ?????
— Aaron Clarke (@Aaron_c91) August 26, 2017
Lord God All-Mighty Football is Fucked. When you see the Kerry Goalie kick the ball out back over his own endline for a 45
— Buff Egan (@buff_egan) August 26, 2017
If this wasn’t a sign that Mayo were on top then we finally got one when Diarmuid O’Connor got the game’s first goal. After the initial shot from Donal Vaughan dropped short, O’Connor rose highest to palm the ball into the net.
GOAL for Diarmuid O'Connor! Mayo 1-7 Kerry 0-5. 28 minutes gone #mayogaa
— Mayo News – Sport (@mayonewssport) August 26, 2017
— Declan Lee (@DeclanLeePR) August 26, 2017
— De Burgos (@DeBurgosGalway) August 26, 2017
Mayo were in a good position at the interval, leading 1-08 to 0-06 – and looking set to reach another All-Ireland final – but they could have been further ahead.
#mayo should be further ahead. Way better than Kerry – especially on tactics
— Pádraig Ó Céidigh (@padraigoceidigh) August 26, 2017
How Mayo aren't further ahead?some of wides took more effort2 miss than they would have to score #kervmay
— Iseult Cody (@iseultcody) August 26, 2017
— mick keane (@micksterk) August 26, 2017
Kerry had to make changes and opted to put on O’Donoghue – who scored 90 seconds after the re-start.
However, less than a minute later, Mayo had a second goal. Andy Moran, who was a thorn in the side of the Kerry defence in the drawn game, got the crucial goal – to put his side 2-09 to 0-07 ahead.
Moran made a great catch before laying it off to Cillian O’Connor. O’Connor gave it back to Moran who had the easiest of finishes to put his side eight points up.
Brilliantly executed. Andy Moran playing like a god.
— Tommy Martin (@TommyMartinVM) August 26, 2017
Andy Moran is on fire ??
— Jack Quinn (@Quinn_Jack86) August 26, 2017
Andy Moran what a player! ?❤ #KerryvMayo
— Ciara Jack (@kilbane_ciara) August 26, 2017
Andy Moran is some player #KerryvMayo
— Veronica (@veronm78) August 26, 2017
As if things weren’t going bad enough for Fitzmaurice’s men, they lost Darren O’Sullivan to a black card heading into the final quarter. O’Sullivan, introduced as a half-time substitute was given the line after an altercation – and is fair to say he was furious with David Gough’s decision.
Minutes later, Cillian O’Connor received the same fate – as the black card controversy will rear its head again.
Great example of officials not having a clue about top level pace and gameplay. Darren O'Sullivan wronged badly.
— Paddy Stapleton (@pasaint) August 26, 2017
Dangerously early black card for COC, even seven points up.
— Tommy Rooney (@TomasORuanaidh) August 26, 2017
However, Kerry kept on fighting and, with only ten minutes to go, the gap was just four points.
It seemed that every time the Kingdom got any bit of initiative, something went wrong. This trend continued when Peter Crowley was sent off after receiving a second yellow card after 63 minutes.
From here Stephen Rochford’s men pushed on and an impressive finish ensured that we will see the Green and Red of Mayo in Croker on the third Sunday of September.
To mangle John McGahern's great words, Mayo have given us some days out, days out of all of our lives.
— Kieran Cunningham (@KCsixtyseven) August 26, 2017
Say whatever you want about Mayo, but they've made All Ireland football exciting to watch. Great group of lads. #GAA
— Aidan 19 TIMES ? (@snappy_boss) August 26, 2017
Who would have Mayo would be in the all Ireland final after being beaten by Galway so early on all credit to men from the West #KerryvMayo
— Gordon Masterson (@nodrogmas) August 26, 2017
Spectacularly dominant from Mayo. A warning to Dublin for the final. And it will surely be Dublin
— John Meagher (@johnmeaghermuso) August 26, 2017
Overall,Mayo much better team today.Kerry worried about mayo strengths rather then concentrate on their own. That has cost them.#KerryvMayo
— Gerry Seaver (@G_Seaver) August 26, 2017