Kerry end years of hurt against the Dubs, O'Shea's winning free and Galway are back

5 talking points after All-Ireland football semi-final weekend.

Kerry’s Sean O’Shea celebrates with Tadhg Morley and Dara Moynihan celebrate at the final whistle.
Kerry’s Sean O’Shea celebrates with Tadhg Morley and Dara Moynihan celebrate at the final whistle.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

1. Kerry end 13 years of hurt against the Dubs

FINALLY, KERRY HAVE put a halt to their losing run against Dublin. After going so close in the drawn 2019 All-Ireland final, this group have been yearning for the opportunity to beat their great rivals.

Kerry have experienced plenty of hurt over the past couple of seasons against Cork and Tyrone, so this victory will be huge for the group. This was a must-win game for them, especially considering the significant absence of Con O’Callaghan.

Had they been beaten here having let a five-point half-time lead slip, it would have been a psychologically scarring experience. 

Paudie Clifford deservedly took man-of-the-match honours after a wonderful attacking performance. His brother David had an exceptional first-half, Brian Ó Beaglaoich gave a fine showing in defence while Sean O’Shea delivered when Kerry’s need was highest.

2. O’Shea’s winning score

Having played well when he came in, Niall Scully will be disappointed with poor wide he kicked that handed Kerry the ball one last time in the game. 

Brian O Beaglaoich, as he did all day, made a hard run to receive the short kick-out. It started off the Kerry move. They worked the ball upfield and a kick pass flew into David Clifford. Davy Byrne came through the back of him and a free was awarded. 

Up stepped Sean O’Shea to nail the winning score, well over 50 metres out, against the breeze and after 80-odd minutes of action. It ended a decade where Kerry were under Dublin’s thumb. There was a certain symmetry to Stephen Cluxton’s last ditch free that became a watershed moment for Dublin in the final 11 years earlier. 

3. Plenty left in the Dubs

Despite the low scoring nature of the game, it was a dramatic and entertaining contest. 

Dublin can be proud of their refusal to give in even when the tide was against them.

Kerry’s movement up front was far slicker in the opening period, but the Dubs showed bravery to fight back into the contest. They were led by the war horses James McCarthy and Ciaran Kilkenny. Cormac Costello’s goal was sublime and Dessie Farrell’s men smelt blood at that stage.

If O’Callaghan wasn’t cruelly ruled out with injury, this could have ended so differently. There’s plenty left in this Dublin team. There will be question marks over the future of some veterans like Dean Rock, Mick Fitzsimons, James McCarthy Jonny Cooper, but there’s no reason to suggest they all won’t be back on board again next season. 

After three years in charge, Dessie Farrell may well decide to bring his tenure to an end. 

shane-walsh-after-the-game Galway’s Shane Walsh after the game. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

4. Derry’s grand plan comes unstuck 

When push came to shove on Saturday, Derry’s attack badly faltered. The stats don’t make kind viewing for Rory Gallagher’s team. After a blistering first 20 minutes, they should have been further clear. 

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They scored just a point between the 12th and 49th minute – a free – and had added only a score from play by the 62nd minute. Shane McGuigan and Benny Heron were well wrapped up.

Once Galway tracked the runners from deep and crowded out key men like Gareth McKinless, the Derry attack looked predictable and lifeless. 

Like Donegal in 2011, Derry will learn a great deal from this game and will look to add a better attacking element next season. However, their Ulster opponents will study Galway’s set-up here too.

5. Galway are back 

By the end of this season either David Clifford or Shane Walsh will end up winning their first All-Ireland senior medal, which isn’t a bad thing. While Walsh has been Galway’s star man for much of this season, Damien Comer was the hero in the semi-final.

Both Walsh and Robert Finnerty were held from play, which made Comer’s impact all the more important. Without him, they wouldn’t be preparing for an All-Ireland final. 

The final against Kerry will be a completely different contest. Cian O’Neill has added a huge amount to Galway’s tactic set-up this season. Sean Kelly, Kieran Molloy, Liam Silke and John Daly are improving with every game in defence. They’ll get their toughest test by far on Sunday week. 

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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