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5 talking points after Kerry and Mayo's thrilling All-Ireland semi-final draw

The counties must meet again after an amazing finale today.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

1. A replay in the Gaelic Grounds

All-Ireland football semi-final replays are nothing new with recent examples including Cork against Kerry in 2008 while Mayo took on Fermanagh in 2004. But holding a replay outside of Croke Park is a unique occurrence and you have to go back to Cork and Dublin’s battle in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 1983 for the last such clash away from the capital. Kerry and Mayo are bound for the Gaelic Grounds next Saturday due to the American football match between Penn State and UCF that is pencilled in for headquarters.

Mayo have already indicated they want a postponement after today’s thrilling game but it’s unclear whether their request will be granted. It’s a clash that is going to provoke fierce debate and questions will arise as to why the replay could not have been deferred to Saturday September 6th when Croke Park is available. Demand for tickets will be a huge and the 49,500 capacity stadium on the Ennis Road should be packed.

2. Lee Keegan’s sending off

Mayo’s second-half fightback was memorable and nearly enabled them to steal a famous win. It came in the face of adversity after the first-half sending-off of Lee Keegan, a decision by referee David Coldrick that provoke a storm of debate.

Keegan became entangled with Johnny Buckley and reacted by drawing a kick at the Kerry player. There didn’t appear to be much force behind his kick but it was a silly decision and meant Keegan ran the risk of being censured as a result. He was penalized and Mayo were robbed of one of their best and most dynamic players for the rest of the game. James Horan indicated after today that they will appeal it.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

3. Mayo’s fourteen men stand tall

Not only did Mayo have to withstand the loss of a key figure like Keegan, they were also trailing on the scoreboard at the break. Immediately after half-time James O’Donoghue pointed to increase the deficit Mayo faced to five points but they combated the sharp play of Kerry and wrestled back control.

Aidan O’Shea’s phenomenal strength helped him make several driving runs forward. Colm Boyle and Donal Vaughan were outstanding. Kevin McLoughlin retreated to successfully shore up the Mayo half-back line. Andy Moran came off the bench to play a vital role, Alan Dillon made their attack tick and Cillian O’Connor emerged as their scoring inspiration. Mayo’s fourteen men stood tall and helped them power back into contention.

4. Kerry’s bench help save them at the death

Kerry’s hopes of victory appeared shredded with five minutes remaining as they trailed by five points. They had been outscored by 1-11 to 0-5 since the interval and looked bereft of ideas. But the introduction of Kieran Donaghy gave them a focal point and defenders like Peter Crowley, Fionn Fitzgerald and Marc O Sé started to make telling runs forward.

Donaghy won a free which Bryan Sheehan converted and then brilliantly fetched another high ball before releasing to O’Donoghue who netted. Then it was another Kerry substitute who had the composure to draw them level when Kieran O’Leary notched a brilliant point. Eamonn Fitzmaurice utilized his resources on the bench to help rescue Kerry.

Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

5. A stunning match ignites the football championship

2014 has been a football championship largely devoid of sparkling games but today’s match gripped the imagination. It began at a fast and smart pace before the play became ragged before half-time. But Kerry still finished the first-half brightly and the second-half was terrific entertainment.

Mayo deserved immense credit for ensuring it was a contest despite their situation looking stark after Keegan was dismissed. Their thrilling revival ensured their supporters were in full voice but Kerry’s frantic comeback saw the game finish in a blaze of drama. It was superb stuff and easily the best game of the 2014 football championship to date.

Poll: Who was your man of the match from today’s Kerry vs Mayo All-Ireland semi-final?

Mayo and Kerry to do it all over again after epic draw

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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