Michael Corry reporting live from Croke Park.
In comparison to Saturday’s humdinger of a clash between Dublin and Mayo, a paltry crowd descended upon Croke Park for the second of this weekend’s All-Ireland semi-finals between Kerry and Tyrone.
Not only did the atmosphere pale in comparison to Saturday’s game but also the intensity with which the two teams played.
All-Star Padraig Hampsey came in as a late replacement in to pick up Paul Geaney while Ronan McNamee tracked David Clifford. At the other end of the field, Tadhg Morley was deployed on Mattie Donnelly while Jason Foley shadowed the in form Cathal McShane.
Michael McKernan ghosted up from wing-back to hit the first score of the day which was immediately answered by Clifford from a placed ball before Tyrone nudged themselves two in front when both Donnelly and McShane shrugged off their respective markers to score back-to-back points that were almost a carbon copy of each other.
After fifteen minutes the sides were deadlocked at 0-4 apiece after Paul Geaney capitalised on a Niall Morgan mistake to score before Clifford got his first from play from underneath the Cusack Stand.
Tyrone pushed on from here with McShane finally getting to grips with Foley inside and kicking three points from play throughout a stellar first half. Niall Sludden also chipped in with two scores from play alongside Morgan who atoned for his earlier mistake with a sweet 45-metre kick to leave Tyrone ahead by four at the break, 0-9 to 0-5, as Kerry were left to rue a plethora of missed chances.
The second half continued much the same as the first, as Kerry’s key men struggled to make a real impact on the game. O’Shea narrowed the gap with a free before Sludden and Geaney traded scores from play to leave two between them after 40 minutes.
Tyrone continued to play the better football, however, with McShane causing headaches inside. The big full-forward converted two frees to go alongside his three from play in the opening half.
Kerry introduced Jack Sherwood at the break and he sparked some impetus into the play with a couple of driving runs forward, as well as a booming kick to put one between them with 20 to play. Peter Keane then decided to gamble as he sacrificed corner-back Jason Foley for Tommy Walsh who went straight into full-forward. The early signs looked good as Morley, now deployed on McShane, won the first 50/50 ball between the pair.
Mickey Harte’s response was to bring in Connor McAliskey and it proved a masterstroke when he scored with his first touch of the ball. However, Walsh’s influence on the game was also evident as he set-up club mate David Moran to score almost immediately following McAliskey’s point.
Moments later the sides were level when David Clifford placed a cracker between the posts with his right boot much to the delight of a now boisterous Kerry crowd. The turnaround was complete when Geaney put it on a plate for Stephen O’Brien to rattle home the game’s first goal and put Kerry into a three-point lead.
O’Brien, who had been quiet enough in the first half, then split the posts with the next play to round off a wonderful five minutes for Kerry that left them four in front with 12 minutes to play.
— The GAA (@officialgaa) August 11, 2019
Morgan and O’Shea traded scores from placed balls as Tyrone tried anxiously to claw the game back in their favour. However, Kerry’s tails were up as they yet again turned the ball over deep inside their own half to kill any momentum that Tyrone had tried to build. Clifford then hit his fourth of the day and third from open play to put a commanding five-points between the teams, the biggest lead seen in the game, as a Kerry and Dublin final looked imminent.
Back-to-back scores from McShane and Richie Donnelly sparked some much-needed life into Tyrone as the gap was narrowed to three heading into injury time. Darren McCurry pointed but it came either side of scores from Geaney and O’Brien as Kerry kept their final quarter stranglehold over the Red Hands. The game was put to bed when Clifford struck a beautiful score off balance with his right foot to send Kerry into the All-Ireland final and break Tyrone heart’s
For three-quarters of this encounter, it looked like Tyrone were heading to a second successive final. However, Kerry’s big guns, namely; Moran, Geaney, Clifford and O’Brien, all stood up in the second half to fire Kerry into this year’s All-Ireland final where five-in-a-row chasing Dublin await.
Shane Ryan; Jason Foley, Tadhg Morley, Tom O’Sullivan; Paul Murphy (c), Gavin Crowley, Shane Enright; David Moran, Adrian Spillane; Brian Ó Beaglaoich, Seán O’Shea, Stephen O’Brien; David Clifford, Paul Geaney, Killian Spillane.
Gavin White for Shane Enright, Jack Sherwood for Adrian Spillane, Tommy Walsh for Jason Foley, Dara Moynihan for Killian Spillane, Jonathan Lyne for Gavin Crowley, Jack Barry for Tom O’Sullivan.
Sean O’Shea 0-6, Stephen O’Brien 1-2, David Clifford 0-6, Paul Geaney 0-3, Jack Sherwood 0-1.
Niall Morgan; Michael Cassidy, Ronan McNamee, Rory Brennan; Michael McKernan, Kieran McGeary, Frank Burns; Colm Cavanagh, Richie Donnelly; Mattie Donnelly (c), Niall Sludden, Peter Harte; Pádraig Hampsey, Cathal McShane, Conor Meyler.
Connor McAliskey for Niall Sludden, Tiarnan McCann for Kieran McGeary, Darren McCurry for Michael Cassidy, Brian Kennedy for Colm Cavanagh.
Cathal McShane 0-7, Mattie Donnelly 0-2, Niall Sludden 0-2, Niall Morgan 0-2, Michael McKernan 0-1, Darren McCurry 0-1, Connor McAliskey 0-1, Richie Donnelly 0-1, Peter Harte 0-1.