Dan Sheridan/INPHO Galway's Owen Gallagher and Kieran Molloy celebrate after their win.
Talking Points

Penalty drama, Croke Park brawl, Galway's strong form and plenty to consider for Kerry

It was a huge day of All-Ireland football quarter-final action.

Compiled by Fintan O’Toole and Kevin O’Brien

1. Croke Park’s first penalty shoot-out

Galway-Armagh was a game full of incident that concluded with the first penalty shoot-out in an All-Ireland series game.

Earlier in the football championship, Clare-Limerick (Munster SFC) and Leitrim-London (Tailteann Cup) went to spot-kicks, but this one came under the bright lights of Croke Park at the business end of the championship.

Padraic Joyce said afterwards his team had been regularly practising penalties all season and that shone through. His full-forward line trio of Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Robert Finnerty converted their chances with quality finishes. That left it up to Matthew Tierney to dispatch the winner and send his team into the last four.

Armagh converted just one from three through Rian O’Neill, as Stefan Campbell and Conor Turbitt both shot wide.

It was a most dramatic finish to a rip-roaring game that had everything. The inevitable debate of the merits of using penalties to decide a game will ensue, but given the condensed nature of the season the GAA have little alternative. And boy, was it exciting.

2. Melee mars Galway-Armagh spectacle

The GAA’s CCCC are expected to take a close look at the unsightly brawl after the end of normal-time that threatened to mar this spectacle.

After O’Neill iced a late free to send the game to extra-time, all hell broke loose. An apparent eye-gouge on Damien Comer by a member of the Armagh set-up that was caught on camera will surely see retrospective punishment handed out to the guilty individual.

While Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney admitted the brawl was “not something you want to see”, he added “there are a few simple things we could do to stop it. They shouldn’t be going in together at half-time.”

McGeeney went on: “I know how it started but once it starts it can get out of control. It’s not a nice part (of the game). But then trial by social media is a very poor way to go. It showed the last time, like, if people had actually sat down and watched the video, they might have got it right.”

damien-comer-clashes-with-a-member-of-the-armagh-panel James Crombie / INPHO The brawl before extra-time was a major talking point. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

3. Kerry progress with plenty to consider

Kerry’s concerns about being under-cooked were pressing as they arrived at the critical juncture of the campaign in Croke Park. This was as expected a stiffer test than what they had encountered to date this season. They were in front of Mayo by a point at the interval and ahead by two in the 50th minute before the Kingdom’s greater efficiency in front of goal was instrumental in their final quarter dominance.

The win they desired was achieved, the progress to a semi-final against Dublin secured. They’ll be pleased with the star showing of Tom O’Sullivan, the display of authority that David Moran produced around midfield, the second-half attacking influence of Sean O’Shea and Paul Geaney. But issues cropped up for Kerry in the first half in their disjointed attacking play, the amount of turnovers they made in possession and the chances they coughed up in the third quarter that Mayo could not convert. Plenty to consider before the huge test Dublin will provide.

padraic-joyce-and-kieran-mcgeeney Dan Sheridan / INPHO Galway boss Padraic Joyce and Armagh manager Kieran McGeeney. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

4. Galway’s strong form continues

Wins over Mayo, Leitrim, Roscommon and Armagh bring Galway to their first All-Ireland semi-final since 2018. The Tribesmen have been on a strong run of form since their Division 2 final defeat to Roscommon in early April. There’s plenty to like about how their summer has gone so far.

Tactically, Cian O’Neill has added a huge amount to their cause. They’re getting the best out of key men Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Paul Conroy. Other players are stepping up to the mark too. Robert Finnerty is deadly accurate in front of the posts, Cillian McDaid is living up to his potential while John Daly and Kieran Molloy have shored up the defence.

Their concession of key scores late in the day remains worrying. They conceded a flurry of late Mayo points in the Connacht quarter-final, two late goals to Roscommon and 2-1 in injury-time against Armagh that brought the game to extra-time.

“Very disappointing,” Joyce said of the two late goals they shipped.

“High balls into the square, just lacking communication to go for the ball and had one that Conor (Gleeson) threw out and shouldn’t be doing that but we got away with it today. Will we get away with it down the line again? We’ll see.

“We played some great football but then lost our way. Something we’ll address because we did the same against Mayo and Roscommon. We addressed it and still lost our way. We had the game won three or four times and came back.”

aidan-oshea-dejected-after-the-game Dan Sheridan / INPHO A dejected Aidan O'Shea. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

5. No final return for Mayo as they depart

We have become so accustomed to Mayo’s championships ending after epic semi-final and final ties, but this game felt different. Ultimately it was a tame manner in which they bowed out of the 2022 race, Kerry cruising in the final quarter and eight points superior by the final whistle. This time there was to be no show of defiance as Mayo sought to resurrect their season.

For three quarters of the match, Mayo were firmly in contention with their defensive prowess backboning their effort. But they only hit four points overall in the second half, two in the last 26 minutes, and some wretched shooting undermined their challenge. That was the root cause of their defeat and a display of inaccuracy that meant the last eight would be the stage of their exit.

- Originally published at 06.00

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