All Ireland SFC Quarter-Final
It was all just a little bit too easy for Kerry as they moved into the last four with a comfortable victory over Galway – their fifth consecutive quarter-final win.
The promise of the Tribesmen’s Division 2 success and their Connacht semi-final win over Mayo, already overshadowed by their nine-point drubbing at the hands of Roscommon, was a dim and distant memory by the time Kerry had got through with them at Croke Park on Saturday.
Although their big win over Donegal hinted that Kevin Walsh’s side might put it up to the Kingdom, the 2014 All Ireland champions were rarely troubled and were never behind on the scoreboard.
Kerry, in contrast, have used their Division 1 win as a springboard with Clare and Cork easily despatched in Munster, and rather ominously for those still left standing Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side look like they have a good few gears to go through yet, should they need them.
“I hope we’ve been improved [on 2016]. You’ve to improve year on year because if you don’t, you’ll regress,” said Fitzmaurice.
“There’s no such thing as standing still so I think we are further down the line. I think the team is evolving the whole time and I think we’re in a good place going into the All Ireland semi-final.”
Kieran Donaghy’s first half goal, in a personal tally of 1-1, proved crucial as Kerry led 1-5 to 0-3 after 15 minutes, and they stretched that lead to seven.
Kevin Walsh’s men did outscore Kerry by 0-6 to 0-3 in a period stretching from late in the first half until the 50th minute, which reduced their arrears to four points with around 20 minutes remaining, but they never got any closer.
Kerry’s response to Galway getting within four was impressive, though, as they just pulled away on the scoreboard to put clear daylight between the sides, and leave Galway still searching for that first win in a Championship game at Croke Park since 2001.
“We played well in patches, at other stages of the game we were sloppy which was probably down to the pressure Galway put us under as well. There’s plenty to take from the game,” added Fitzmaurice.
“The big thing is that we need to eradicate that sloppiness, you just can’t afford to have that in Croke Park.
“We were lucky enough today that we did enough to win the game. On other days that could cost you dearly.”
Scorers for Kerry: Kieran Donaghy 1-1, Paul Geaney 0-4 (1f), Johnny Buckley 0-2, Paul Murphy 0-2, David Moran 0-2, Stephen O’Brien 0-2, Barry John Keane 0-2, James O’Donoghue 0-1 (0-1f), Donnchadh Walsh 0-1, Jack Savage 0-1.
Scorers for Galway: Ian Burke 0-5 (1f), Sean Armstrong 0-4 (1f), Eamonn Brannigan 0-1, Shane Walsh 0-1 (0-1f), Michael Daly 0-1, Johnny Heaney 0-1.
KERRY: Brian Kelly; Shane Enright, Mark Griffin, Fionn Fitzgerald; Tadhg Morley, Peter Crowley, Paul Murphy; David Moran, Jack Barry; Michael Geaney, Johnny Buckley, Donnchadh Walsh; Paul Geaney, Kieran Donaghy, James O’Donoghue.
Subs: Stephen O’Brien for M Geaney (39), Jack Savage for O’Donoghue (49), Anthony Maher for Barry (54), Barry John Keane for Donaghy (57), Killian Young for Morley (63), Jonathan Lyne for Walsh (67).
GALWAY: Bernard Power; Eoghan Kerin, David Walsh, Declan Kyne; Gary O’Donnell, Gareth Bradshaw, Liam Silke; Paul Conroy, Thomas Flynn; Johnny Heaney, Michael Daly, Shane Walsh; Ian Burke, Damien Comer, Sean Armstrong.
Subs: Cathal Sweeney for D Walsh (39), Eamonn Brannigan for Walsh (44), Michael Farragher for Bradshaw (52), Fionntan O Curraoin for Daly (58), Cillian McDaid for Flynn (63), Danny Cummins for Armstrong (66).