All-Ireland SFC Group One
Courtesy of GAA.ie
By Paul Brennan at Fitzgerald Stadium
The Championship is off and running and it is Mayo that have made the first significant ripple in the pool.
A full value five-point win – in fortress Killarney, no less – was franked by Eoghan McLaughlin’s goal in the 61st minute that thrust Kevin McStay’s team six points ahead, and from there the Allianz Football League Division One champions barely put a foot wrong in the final 12 minutes to ease to victory.
Truth be told, Mayo hardly put a foot wrong all game. They took the lead through Ryan O’Donoghue in the fourth minute and, bar a three-minute period midway through the first half when the score was 0-3 apiece, Mayo led all the way.
Contenders for the man of the match gong was, for a long time, a toss-up between the two goalkeepers. Shane Ryan and Colm Reape made about eight super saves between them – Ryan the busier of the pair – but it would be hard to look beyond Matthew Ruane as far as a tour de force performance went.
The midfielder had help aplenty – not least from his Breaffy club mate Aidan O’Shea – but Ruane bished and boshed his way through a huge amount of work and clipped over two points for good measure.
Kerry got nothing like that from their engine room, and that, ultimately, is where and how they lost this game, even though Paudie Clifford heroically carried the fight for the Kingdom.
Ruane, Diarmuid O’Connor, Conor Loftus et al were afforded too many holes to slip through in the Kerry middle diamond, and but for Ryan’s brilliance in goal Kerry might have been on the end of a double-digit defeat.
Mayo’s intent was obvious from as early as the second minute when O’Donoghue took a quick free into Diarmuid O’Connor who, in turn, slammed a shot at goal that Ryan did well to push away. But the message was clear: Mayo were here to play front-foot football and were going to take this game to Kerry, come what may.
What came was two more wicked shots on Ryan, both from James Carr – one in the fourth minute and the next at the very end of the first half – that the goalkeeper, again, did brilliantly to stop. In between that, Mayo played the better of the football, and took a deserved five-point, 0-12 to 0-7, lead to the interval.
Even if he missed those two goal chances, Carr finished the first half with three points from play, same as O’Donoghue, who also converted a free, while O’Shea converted two frees and a mark. That was 0-10 from the Mayo full forward in the first 37 minutes, and Kerry thankful it wasn’t a lot more.
As for Kerry’s side of the ledger, they got points from play from Dara Moynihan, Paul Geaney, David Clifford and Tom O’Sullivan, but the attacking menace so evident in the Munster final was evidently lacking.
Clifford’s point in the 12th minute made it 0-3 apiece, but when Padraig O’Hora fisted Mayo back in front the Connacht men were never behind again.
Ruane’s point two minutes after the restart set the tone again, and while Mayo briefly regressed and played a little too deep for a spell in the second half, Kerry failed to capitalise.
Nevertheless, the home side had their chances. If Ryan was the busier keeper in the first period, Reape had plenty to do in the second, twice making reflex saves to deny David Clifford and Kerry the goal they desperately needed. Clifford was also denied by a O’Hora block as Kerry chased the lead down, but they could never get closer than three points.
David Clifford finished with eight points, five from play, but he simply didn’t get enough help from enough of his team mates.
The only goal, when it arrived from McLaughlin, who coolly slotted low past Ryan, made it a six-point margin and Mayo weren’t to be denied after that.
Scorers for Mayo: Ryan O’Donoghue 0-5 (2f), James Carr 0-3, Aidan O’Shea 0-3 (2f, 1 m), Eoghan McLaughlin 1-0, Matthew Ruane 0-2, Padraig O’Hora 0-1, Jack Carney 0-1, Jordan Flynn 0-1, Jason Doherty 0-1, Donnacha McHugh 0-1, Paddy Durcan 0-1
Scorers for Kerry: David Clifford 0-8 (3f), Paul Geaney 0-3, Sean O’Shea 0-3 (2f, 1’45’), Tom O’Sullivan 0-2, Dara Moynihan 0-1
Mayo: Colm Reape, Jack Coyne, David McBrien, Sam Callinan, Padraig O’Hora, Conor Loftus, Eoghan McLaughlin, Matthew Ruane, Diarmuid O’Connor, Jason Doherty, Jack Carney, Jordan Flynn, Aidan O’Shea, James Carr, Ryan O’Donoghue
Subs: Paddy Durcan for J Doherty (47), Enda Hession for S Callinan (47), Tommy Conroy for J Carr (52), Eoghan McLoughlin for P O’Hora (55), Stephen Coen for J Coyne (60).
Kerry: Shane Ryan, Dylan Casey, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan, Graham O’Sullivan, Tadhg Morley, Gavin White, Diarmuid O’Connor, Jack Barry, Dara Moynihan, Seán O’Shea, Paudie Clifford, Tony Brosnan, David Clifford, Paul Geaney.
Subs: Paul Murphy for T Morley (temp, 25-28), Paul Murphy for D Casey (ht), Adrian Spillane for T Brosnan (ht), Ruairi Murphy for D Moynihan (46), Brian Ó Beaglaoich for T Morley (59), Stephen O’Brien for J Barry (63).
Referee: Sean Hurson (Tyrone).