Kerry 2-10 Mayo 3-11
Mayo are the Division 1 Football Champions for the first time since 2001 following an incredible second-half display against Kerry in Croke Park this afternoon.
The Kingdom dominated the opening proceedings and goals from Gavin Crowley and Stephen O’Brien placed them firmly in the driving seat but a sensational comeback in the second half, capped with three goals, sealed a memorable victory for Mayo over their rivals.
Here are our quick-fire conclusions from the thrilling contest in Croke Park.
1. Mayo Fail To Make Possession Count In Opening Period – Though the scoreline may not reflect it, Mayo enjoyed possession in abundance, especially in the first half of the game. However, through a combination of Kerry’s stifling defence and taking the wrong option, they failed to translate it into points. Kerry won a huge amount of turnovers close to their own goal as Mayo lacked that clinical edge to finish assuredly.
2. Kerry Commit Defenders – The Kingdom spent large portions of the game with only two men inside their own half, usually David Clifford and Tommy Walsh. As soon as Mayo gathered possession, the Kerry men instinctively sprinted back down the field to defend. It was effective, no doubt, smothering many potential Mayo attacks but there are questions over whether the likes of Sean O’Shea should have been kept in a more dangerous role.
3. Kerry Goals At Crucial Times – Gavin Crowley hit his side’s first after 12 minutes, sidestepping his marker and burying it past Hennelly, at a time when Mayo were gaining momentum and had snuck into an early three-points to one lead. When Stephen O’Brien expertly netted the second after 25 minutes, it put his side five points ahead and it was a lead Mayo struggled to reduce for the rest of the half.
4. Mayo Utilise Space Of Croke Park – Mayo clearly enjoy playing in Croke Park. They utilised every bit of space available to them with the forwards often seen running deep into the corners to provide an option to their advancing backs. Kevin McLaughlin and James Carr were particularly effective, drifting off their markers to win the ball before turning back inside and shooting from tight angles. In comparison, Kerry played a much narrower game, choosing to attack straight down the middle.
5. Mayo Fight Back – The roar of the Mayo crowd must have been audible at the other side of Dublin such was the support for every turnover and every clean ball won as they got their way back into this game. Donal Vaughan and Lee Keegan worked exceptionally hard to win possession in the half-back line while Aidan O’Shea’s aerial ability was also a crucial factor. Within the opening minutes of the second half, they had reduced the deficit to just one and although Kerry extended it again, Matthew Ruane’s goal in the 48th minute left them just one behind again before Jason Doherty levelled the game with a free in the 56th minute. From there, Kerry had no answer and two further goals sealed the victory.
6. Disappointing End To Promising League For Kerry – Kerry attacked this League with a purpose and Peter Keane will be bitterly disappointed not to come away with a loss. To lose twice to Mayo in the space of a matter of weeks will also be a cause of huge frustration. But the manner of this defeat will surely raise a number of questions. They failed to show up in the second half and their go-to leaders were dragged out of the game by Mayo. This League highlighted much of Kerry’s strengths but also put their weaknesses into the spotlight. They have time now to rectify the issues and a very different Kerry should emerge for the Munster championship.