Kerry and Armagh played out a thrilling game in today’s All Ireland football semi final which ended Kerry 2-15, Armagh 1-15. It was a closely fought game and the lead changed hands on numerous occasions throughout the contest which ended in a draw resulting in extra time and a nerve racking finish. Kerry had the better of the extra time exchanges and a goal from Michael Francis Russell helped them secure victory and a place in the All Ireland final.

Apart from the few early points it was largely a quiet first half as nerves seemed to affect some players. Kerry enjoyed a large percentage of possession but didn’t convert enough of their chances largely due to Armagh hassling them constantly and making them work very hard to gain any ground. Armagh on the other hand didn’t create as many chances but were more accurate taking eight of their ten first half chances. After 13minutes Óisin McConville scored his first point to level the sides and after that he took centre stage scoring four points and a cracking goal just before half time to give Armagh a four point cushion at the interval.

The second half was a tense affair and substitute Liam Hassett reduced the margin as Kerry continued to press forward and create chances, most of which were either missed or blocked by this extremely hard working Armagh team. There was a lull in proceedings midway through the second half and it was Kerry who upped the tempo thanks to points from Maurice Fitzgerald and Eamonn Fitzmaurice to reduce the deficit to just one point. McConville then replied with a great point before Mike Frank Russell scored the goal which gave Kerry the lead. McConville then levelled the teams again before Daragh Ó Cinnéide put Kerry ahead with only three minutes remaining. McConville then held his nerve to score from a free to earn a draw and extra time for Armagh.

Extra time began and Kerry made the better start with points from Crowley and Daly followed up with a great goal from Michael Francis Russell. Armagh showed resilience though and responded with scores from McConville and Steven McDonnell to reduce the deficit to just two points at the extra time interval. The second period of extra time went by with little incident until Declan O’Keefe did brilliantly to stop a goalbound McConville shot. That was followed by two quick Kerry points to give them a four-point cushion with only three minutes remaining. Armagh replied with one more point but in the end it wasn’t to be as Kerry held out to win what was a marvellous game of football and secure their All Ireland final place.

Filed by Johnny Proby