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Wednesday 25 May 2016

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Kingdom ambition conquers Galway

Kerry 1-20 - Galway 2-10

By Paul Keane

Published 04/08/2014

Forward thinking: Kerry's Anthony Maher and Fiontan O Curraoin battle for possession
Forward thinking: Kerry's Anthony Maher and Fiontan O Curraoin battle for possession

In the build-up to this game, Tomas O Se talked of how Kerry always treated All-Ireland quarter-finals with particular respect. On their first visit of the summer to Croke Park, he explained, the potential for disaster was always clear and present in their minds.

His argument made sense though it's questionable if Kingdom teams are following the plan through to its entirety just recently. Quite aside from their quarter-final defeat to Down in 2010, they have now had two nervy games at this stage in a row.

Last year, they started like a train against Cavan, opening up a nine point half-time lead before being outscored in the second-half and winning unconvincingly.

There was a similar pattern at play yesterday where Kerry, perhaps buoyed by that feeling of needing to start strong, raced clear of Galway only to give much of their lead back.

Ultimately, though, Kerry are still standing in the championship, an ominous presence, and there was never any stage in this latest quarter-final outing where you ended up truly fearing for them.

Sure, Galway huffed and puffed in the second half and were suitably inspired by the likes of goal scorers Tom Flynn and Michael Lundy and, elsewhere, Shane Walsh to ask questions of Kerry.

But the closest they came to blowing Kerry's house down was when they reduced their arrears to two points with 20 minutes to go.

Startled back into action, Kerry duly turned on the after-burners and blazed a trail from there to full-time and on into an All-Ireland semi-final with Mayo.

James O'Donoghue shone brightest among Kerry's star talents, adding another 1-5 to his summer haul. And all from play.

"It wasn't a five star performance," acknowledged Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. "Overall, it's satisfying to have won and great to be back in an All-Ireland semi-final but far from a perfect performance. There's definitely a lot to work on."

The big question of exactly how good Kerry are still remains. That one can't be answered easily. But there were no red flags at least to suggest they can't compete with Mayo and, potentially, Dublin.

Their defence was decent throughout and the ability Kerry showed to close out the game in the last 15 minutes with point after point is what gives their fans most hope.

Kerry: B Kelly; M O Se, A O'Mahony, S Enright; P Murphy, K Young, F Fitzgerald; A Maher, B Sheehan; M Geaney, (0-1) J Buckley (0-2, 1f), D Walsh (0-2); P Geaney (0-4, 1f), Declan O'Sullivan (0-1), J O'Donoghue (1-5). Subs.: D Moran (0-1) for Sheehan (5), P Crowley for O'Mahony (46), Darran O'Sullivan for Declan O'Sullivan (52), BJ Keane (0-3) for Buckley (55), K O'Leary (0-1) for Walsh (59), M Griffin for O Se (65).

Galway: T Healy; D O'Neill, F Hanley, J Moore; G Bradshaw (0-2), G O'Donnell, P Varley; F O Curraoin, T Flynn (1-0); M Lundy (1-1), S Walsh (0-5, 3f), P Conroy (0-1); M Martin, J O'Brien, D Cummins. Subs.: S Armstrong for Cummins (h/t), D Comer (0-1) for O'Brien (h/t), K Kelly for Moore (49), E Hoare for Martin (56), C Mulryan for Varley (67).

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).

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