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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 16 August, 2018

The return to form of Donaghy, Galway's missed chances and selection issues for Kerry

5 talking points after Kerry’s eight-point victory over the Tribesmen earlier today.

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

1. Impact of Kieran Donaghy

THE BIG TAKEAWAY from this game was Kieran Donaghy’s return to form. He showed flashes of brilliance in the Munster final win over Cork, but this was Donaghy at his devastating best.

Kieran Donaghy celebrates after scoring a goal Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

Kevin Walsh made the bold move to start the rangey David Walsh on ‘Star’ but Kerry ruthlessly exposed the youngster who is in his debut campaign. The Kingdom found Donaghy on numerous occasions in the opening half and had 1-1 on the board inside the opening 35 minutes.

All the talk heading into this game was the form of Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue, but they failed to live up to their billing. Geaney had a mixed bag, scoring 0-4 but he shot three wides which is unusual for a forward that prides himself on a high conversion rate.

It was rumoured that O’Donoghue was carrying an injury into this game but he was well subdued by Eoghan Kerin and withdrawn on 47 minutes. That made the impact of Donaghy all the more important.

2. Galway’s missed chances

This game was over long before the finish but if Galway had taken their goal chances things might have been different. The Tribesmen had four clear cut chances to rattle the back of the net, two in either half.

Ian Burke, Sean Armstrong, Damien Comer (twice) had an opportunity to raise a green flag, but Brian Kelly made a couple of important stops, while Fionn Fitzgerald cleared one of Comer’s efforts off the line.

Walsh’s side also left an easy free and a pair of 45s behind them. These are the chances that need to be taken if Kerry are going to be defeated this year.

Damien Comer with Mark Griffin Source: Tommy Grealy/INPHO

3. Kerry vulnerable to the running game

Eamonn Fitzmaurice will be concerned about how many occasions Galway tore them open with runs from deep. It’s long been suspected that Kerry’s Achilles heel is when teams run at them through the middle, and they did little to counter that argument this afternoon.

While Mark Griffin largely marshalled Comer to good effect, they called on Brian Kelly on a number of occasions to keep their clean sheet intact.

Kerry will face Roscommon or Mayo in the semi-final – two sides who employ running games. It’s an area the Kingdom need to work.

4. Did Galway lack belief?

When Sean Armstrong slotted over a point off the left in the 49th minute, Galway were back to within four points with 20 minutes left. All to play for.

But from that point to the finish, they were outscored by 0-6 to 0-2, as Kerry cantered home. It appeared as though the Tribesmen lacked belief they could go on and win the game, although the numerous goal chances they missed probably affected them in that regard.

The introduction of a player like Michael Lundy, Gary Sice, Danny Cummins or even Micheal Meehan might have sparked the crowd into life, but it never happened. Kerry looked like the far fitter side down the home straight, and they ran out eight point victors.

Galway are without a win over Kerry since the 1965 All-Ireland final, while they’ve drawn one and lost nine championship games out of 10 at Croke Park since 2001.

David Moran reacts to a missed chance Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. Selection issues for Fitzmaurice

Kerry’s bench contributed five points which is a major plus for Fitzmaurice. Looking down the line, he needs to build a bench capable of matching that of Dublin or even Tyrone.

Stephen O’Brien and Barry John Keane managed a brace apiece, while Jack Savage chipped in with a point. O’Brien in particular looked electric upon his introduction.

He replaced the ineffective Michael Geaney in the 39th minute and never stopped running until the final whistle.

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Kevin O'Brien

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