Kerry find themselves back at the top of the Gaelic football ladder after an efficient win over Donegal in Sunday’s All-Ireland Football Final. John Ivory ranks the top five performers from this year’s marquee clash.
5. Neil Gallagher/ Christy Toye – Donegal
From the start, Gallagher was leading the charge for Donegal, sweeping up around defence and moving his side forward. He competed well around midfield and linked up well with the men around him.
When Toye came on he immediately caused Kerry problems. He got on the ball and ran at the defence, a weakness we’ve seen in Kerry. They didn’t lack for effort, along with McLoone, Lacey and MacNiallais, but not enough Donegal men played to their full potential.
4. Paul Geaney – Kerry
The Dingle clubman was Kerry’s most threatening forward against Donegal and his final tally of 1-2 was vital. All season Geaney probably wasn’t gaining the recognition he deserve, because he was in James O’Donoghue’s shadow.
However, yesterday, with O’Donoghue playing further out, Geaney shone. He fielded superbly above his man on many occasions, and took his opening minute goal exceptionally well. Should’ve gotten another first half goal, but capped off a great year with a brilliant display.
3. Michael Murphy – Donegal
Even though he came out on the losing side of Sunday’s clash, Murphy put in another gritty, yet skilful, display against Kerry. Donegal surprisingly didn’t settle well, and it was Murphy who stood over nerve-wrecking frees from 40 metres out, and slotted them with ease to keep the men from Tír Chonaill in the contest.
He was assured from placed balls, which was a necessity in a low scoring game. He won a huge amount of ball, but unfortunately for him, it wasn’t quite enough.
2. Kieran Donaghy – Kerry
Not for the first time, many will say that Kieran Donaghy won Kerry the All-Ireland. The Austin Stack’s man rolled back the years yesterday, fielding high balls, making smart passes, and importantly for Kerry, scoring goals.
Many wondered how Donegal would contain him on the edge of the square, but he wasn’t there the whole time. He won ball further out the pitch, and drifted in. He showed great alertness to latch onto Durcan’s loose kick out, and finished with an impressive 1-2.
His post-match interview was nothing short of epic.
1. Paul Murphy – Kerry
In his debut season, Paul Murphy has emerged as a great find for Kerry. He had a brilliant game in the final, anticipating the play well and snuffing out numerous Donegal attacks. His youthful exuberance meant he was able to keep going at a frantic pace for the full seventy minutes, and even found himself on the scoreboard with a point any forward would be happy with.
Peter Crowley also put in an awesome display, showing Kerry will be around for years to come.
Micheal Burns – Kerry Minors
The Kerry minors enjoyed a four point win over Donegal, and at the centre of that win was Dr Crokes clubman, Micheal Burns. He got through a Trojan amount of work all throughout and he used the ball very sensibly, setting up scores for teammates.
His direct running had Donegal’s defence reeling, and he showed great composure to slot over 0-2. Killian Spillane, Barry O’Sullivan, and Shane Ryan also stood out.
John Ivory, Pundit Arena.