After all that, who would have believed Kerry versus Mayo would be the least competitive game of the weekend?
The two squared off in Killarney in the opening phase of the Super 8s in what was given main event status with its 4 pm throw-in time on Sunday. A ding-dong battle was expected and it looked to be heading that way for the first seven minutes of the game.
However, Kerry were able to turn the screw early in the first half and wrap up proceedings by half-time. It was a Kingdom masterclass and one that felt like it was a long time coming from this outfit.
Pat Spillane remarked following the game that if Kerry get their ‘mojo’ back they can rattle Dublin before rightly being pulled up by Kevin McStay who questioned the last time Kerry actually had their ‘mojo’. The truth is this Kerry side hadn’t caught fire in the Championship in a few years.
It’s been five years since their last All-Ireland, a major drought by Kerry standards and in that time they’ve been bullied against the top sides. Particularly Mayo.
All that changed yesterday with a masterful Kerry performance akin to the great teams of 2004 and 2006 who had Mayo beaten out the gate before the short whistle.
The Kerry attack were in scintillating form. David Moran completely bossed the midfield sector throughout the opening 35 minutes. Stephen O’Brien (again) was excellent while David Clifford continues to shock and awe with performances barely believable from someone so young.
Kerry were the bullies yesterday. They overwhelmed Mayo with so many of their scores coming directly from the Mayo kick-out. Kerry pressed high on David Clarke’s restarts. They were aggressive and left the All-Star keeper with no option but to go long towards the middle were Moran completely cleaned up.
Between the 21st and 30th minute, Kerry were able to kick three scores directly from Mayo restarts. In total, they kicked five in the first half alone. It was demoralising for Mayo while at the same time uplifting for Kerry have catapulted them into a position where they were never going to lose this game.
Sunday saw a pulsating encounter in Croker between @Galway_GAA and @KilkennyCLG in the round-robin quarter finals, with the below trio all in fine goalscoring form. Vote now for your Electric Ireland Hurling Player of the Week! #GAAThisIsMajor
— Electric Ireland (@ElectricIreland) July 15, 2019
In the passage of play below, Kerry are on top but the free-flowing action has hit somewhat of a lull until James O’Donoghue forces David Clarke to make an excellent save after a fine Kerry move. It was their first score in ten minutes and set them up to go on and kick seven more scores before the half.
Clarke is looking for the short option from the kick-out but there’s none there. He’s left with one option; long towards Aidan O’Shea. However, Adrian Spillane rises highest to claim the kick-out before off-loading to Gavin White who has come searing off Spillane’s shoulder and drive into the Mayo attack.
White could have gone himself but he takes the smart approach. David Clifford checks his run before cutting back and receiving the handpass from White. Clifford needs just half a yard and kicks yet another score.
Two minutes later David Moran takes the bull by the horns and kicks a monster score for Kerry that his performance to that point richly deserved.
Again, from the resulting kick-out, Clarke is desperately scanning the field looking for options but there aren’t any. Kerry have pressed right up and forced him to kick long towards Moran. Bad move. The big man takes a beautiful mark before off-loading to the onrushing Paul Murphy in a flash.
Murphy doesn’t hesitate, he knows what to do and let’s fly into the corner towards Clifford. Stephen O’Brien makes his run forward to support Kerry’s wonder-kid should he not be able to get the shot off. As it transpires Clifford is left with no option but to feed it back out to O’Brien who makes an angle for himself before kicking Kerry’s 11th point of the game.
Clifford adds a long-range free before Sean O’Shea kicks his first point from play to put Kerry into a nine-point lead.
At this point, half-time is approaching and Mayo just want out of there but Kerry aren’t letting up. Following O’Shea’s point, Clarke yet again scans the field looking for options.
Two players from @monaghangaa and one from @TyroneGAALive are nominated for the Electric Ireland Football Player of the Week, as the Farney got the better of their rivals in a hard-fought Ulster Minor Football Final on Friday. Cast your vote below! #GAAThisIsMajor
— Electric Ireland (@ElectricIreland) July 15, 2019
He knows that Kerry are dominating the long kick so this time he’s adamant to go short, no matter who detrimental it might be. He taps it towards a Mayo defender who is surrounded on each side by gold jerseys. It’s a recipe for disaster. James O’Donoghue gets a foot to the ball and deflects it into Paul Geaney’s path. Geaney has goal on his mind but is unfortunate that his rasper of a shot hits the crossbar before going over and putting Kerry into an unassailable ten-point lead.
There was so much to love about Kerry’s performance yesterday; David Clifford’s wonder-pass on 14 minutes, and his performance, in general, the standout. David Moran’s dominance around the middle and Stephen O’Brien’s 33rd-minute point when he broke through three Mayo fouls to kick from distance were also highlights.
It was the complete performance from Kerry and one that will have put Dublin on notice as the Super 8s reaches crunch time.