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Final Four - The view from Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Galway as league finalists decided

The regulation stage of the league concluded yesterday.

THE REGULATION PHASE of the Division 1 campaign reached an exciting conclusion yesterday as four sides fought it out for two places in the league final.

Kerry and Mayo will contest the decider after their respective wins yesterday, while Tyrone and Galway missed out a day in Croke Park this weekend.

Let’s take a look at how the four counties will reflect on the round 7 league action.

pjimage (1) Mattie Donnelly, Aidan O'Shea, David Clifford and Shane Walsh. Source: Inpho

Kerry

Peter Keane’s side recovered from their only defeat of the competition to easily account for Roscommon and consign their opponents to the drop for good measure. David Clifford made his first start of the season and clipped over five points, three from play, and fit right back into the Kerry attack as though he’d never been away.

Sean O’Shea (1-5) and Stephen O’Brien (1-2) were typically accurate in front of the posts and James O’Donoghue logged a valuable 20 minutes off the bench in the second-half. The Kingdom forwards made themselves busy all afternoon and left three goal chances behind them in the opening period. Defensively, they conceded 13 points and just five after half-time.

They topped the table with 12 points from a possible 14. Whatever way you look at it, it’s been an impressive campaign from the Munster outfit. They finished with the joint-best defensive record in the division (alongside Mayo) and had the second-highest scoring attack after Dublin.

Cathal Cregg and Paul Murphy Paul Murphy escapes the attention of Cathal Cregg, Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Mayo

James Horan has started off his second coming with Mayo the same way he did his first – with a trip to the Division 1 final. They needed a win over Monaghan at MacHale to seal a place in the decider, while Tyrone did them a favour by beating Galway.

Mayo put up an impressive 3-15 against a Farney defence not renowned for giving away easy scores. Kevin McLoughlin, playing on the inside line, contributed 2-2 while Aidan O’Shea was in formidable form at midfield.

Horan has greatly bolstered his squad depth this spring and it was Fergal Boland who put his hand up with three scores of the highest quality here. Cillian O’Connor has returned to training but the league final may come too soon for him.

On the downside they lost David Clarke to injury during the first-half and the concession of 1-18 wasn’t ideal, although they did come across Conor McManus and Jack McCarron in inspired form. 

Matthew Ruane Matthew Ruane has been a great find for Mayo this spring. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Tyrone

Mickey Harte’s side missed out on a place in the final but they were the longest shots out of the four to make it through. They did, however, pick up their fourth victory on the bounce and will head to the Ulster SFC full of confidence after another impressive display.

Cathal McShane, once again, was the focal point of the Red Hand attack and they sought to hit him with diagonal kick-passes – just like they did a week earlier against Dublin. McShane was fouled for Peter Harte’s goaled penalty and he played a major role as Conall McCann stroked in Tyrone’s third goal in stoppage-time.

Colm Cavanagh was back to his best in the sweeper role and in the middle third Mattie Donnelly and Peter Harte continued their fine form. Tyrone went back to their running game against Galway’s defensive system and finish the league safe in the knowledge they’ve two gameplans in the locker after the ‘kick first’ approach against the Dubs.

Niall Sludden and Thomas Flynn Niall Sludden is hauled down by Thomas Flynn. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

Galway

A fifth-place finish for Galway in Division 1 after going into the final day as the front-runners to take second behind Kerry. The concession of three goals against Tyrone, more so than the defeat, will greatly irk Kevin Walsh. In their previous 14 league games, including the 2017 final, they shipped three goals in total.

The Tribe led by seven at the interval, largely thanks to Shane Walsh’s brilliance, but Tyrone found countless holes in their defence after the break. Outside of their star man, Galway struggled up front as the game wore on although Michael Daly did show some early promise. 

Only three teams conceded more than Galway in the top flight despite their defensive set-up. On a bright note, they did introduce Kieran Molloy late on and will look to integrate a few more of his Corofin clubmates ahead of the championship.

Gareth Bradshaw and Padraig Cunningham Gareth Bradshaw gets a pass away under pressure from Padraig Cunningham. Source: Lorcan Doherty/INPHO

  • Kerry v Mayo, Division 1 final, Croke Park, Sunday 4pm.

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Kevin O'Brien

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