By Larry Cooney
Three goals from Diarmuid O’Connor, David Shaw and David Clifford earned Kerry a third consecutive All-Ireland MFC success in curtain-raiser to last Sunday’s extraordinary senior final at Croke Park.
After their avalanche victory over Kildare in the semi-final the holders were raging hot favourites but it was Kerry’s ability to score goals that proved decisive in landing the Tom Markham Cup. But Galway never gave up and were well in contention until David Clifford’s sensational third goal with less than ten minutes remaining.
Although Kerry registered just one more score than their opponents their three green flags, two in the first-half and one in the second-half, gave them a four point winning margin at referee Ciaran Branagan’s final whistle.
Kerry centre-forward Sean O’Shea opened the scoring via a free in the first minute but 17 minutes elapsed before the Munster men added to their tally. It proved to be a significant score too as left halfforward O’Connor fisted the ball to the back of the Galway net. But the Connacht champions had plenty of chances during the opening quarter but their shooting let them down. There was also bizarre moment involving the Kingdom’s goalkeeper Billy Courtney.
After assuming that the ball was going wide and went to set up for a kick-out but the ball was sent goal wards by John Maher and Courtney cleared the ball off his line to save his embarrassment. Captain Desmond Conneely got Galway off in the mark in 21st minute from a free but the Kingdom’s second goal arrived a minute later.
Clifford then fielded a high delivery and set up Shaw who found the bottom right corner of Cormac Haslam’s net. Peter Keane’s charges subsequently enjoyed a 2-2 to 0-2 half-time lead but that the team in maroon and white enjoyed a promising start to the second-half.
Stephen Joyce’s charges began the second half in impressive fashion by kicking three unanswered points in the opening 10 minutes through Adam Quirke and Robert Finnerty (2). But Kerry still led by two points – 2-4 to 0- 8 – at the 50 minute mark but a superb individual goal from the gifted Clifford in the 53rd minute gave them enough breathing space and they held on for a momentous victory.
And Galway’s woes were finally compounded when midfielder Maher was shown a red card for a second yellow card offence in stoppage time.
But late scores from ‘man-of-thematch’ Dara Moynihan, substitute Cormac Linnane and O’Shea helped provide further proof that the Kerry underage football production line is still running smoothly.
SCORERS: KERRY: David Shaw 1-1, David Clifford 1-0, Diarmuid O’Connor 1-0, Seán O’Shea 0- 2 (2f), Dara Moynihan 0-2, Cormac Linnane 0-1, Niall Collins 0-1. Galway – Robert Finnerty 0-3 (2f), Desmond Conneely 0-2 (2f), Ryan Forde 0-1, Céin Darcy 0-1, Adam Quirke 0-1, Rory Cunningham 0-1 (1f)
KERRY: Billy Courtney; David Naughten, Niall Collins, Graham O’Sullivan; Michael Potts, Daniel O’Brien, Mícheál Foley; Mike Breen, Mark Ryan; Dara Moynihan, Seán O’Shea, Diarmuid O’Connor; David Clifford, David Shaw, Brian Friel. SUBS: Cormac Linnane for Brian Friel, 48; Caolim Teahan for Niall Collins, 54; Bryan Sweeney for David Shaw, 60; Kieran Dwyer for Micheál Foley, 65; Stefan Okunbor for Diarmuid O’Connor, 67
GALWAY: Cormac Haslam; Liam Boyle, Seán Mulkerrin, Eoin McFadden; Adam Quirke, Ernán McDonagh, Fionán Garvey; Céin D’Arcy, John Maher; Finian Ó Laois, Evan Murphy, Ryan Forde; Robert Finnerty, Seán Raftery, Desmond Connelly. SUBS: Barry Goldrick for Evan Murphy, 38; Ross Murphy for Séán Raftery, 50; Rory Cunningham for Robert Finnerty, 56; Eoghan Deely for Fionán Garvey, 56. REFEREE: Ciaran Branagan.