Galway’s first championship victory over Kerry in 53 years got them off to a winning start in the Super 8s, as they scored a 1-13 to 1-10 win in a disappointing Croke Park contest.
The series has failed to spark in the opening weekend of All-Ireland quarter-final round robin games, and this was the game that held the richest promise.
But a young, exciting Kingdom side of which much was expected came nowhere close to meeting expectation, and it was Galway grit and Shane Walsh class that won out on a golden day for the west.
Walsh finished with five points as the Kingdom finished with 14 men following the straight red card dismissal of Killian Young.
Patrick Sweeney scored the Galway goal late on, and even later, Clifford (1-5) grabbed a consolation Kerry goal.
In front of a crowd of 30,740, neat movement in the Kerry attack created the opening for Kevin McCarthy’s score, but as both sides struggled to control the greasy ball and deal with the difficult surface, mistakes and poor shooting punctuated the opening quarter.
It wasn’t until the 13th minute that Shane Walsh opened Galway’s account, from a free awarded for a foul on Ian Burke, but they were unable to make serious inroads into a defence that had Killian Young quickly rediscovering his form following a lengthy lay-off, and David Moran dropping back in support.
Gareth Bradshaw and Sean Andy O Ceallaigh were solid at the back for the Tribesmen, but could do nothing to curb the class of teenager David Clifford as he swung over a classy point after Young had pressed into a pocket of space.
The Tribesmen pushed ahead for the first time in the 17th minute when Paul Conroy added to Ian Burke’s score, with wing back Johnny Heaney pressing with positivity ion both cases.
But shortly afterwards, midfielder Conroy’s game was brought to an end by a serious leg injury suffered in an accidental clash with Sean O’Shea, the game held up for a lengthy spell as he received treatment on the field.
A game that had lacked intensity and excitement only opened up in stoppage time, when Galway struck three points, Damien Comer finally getting on the score-sheet, with Ian Burke pushing the Connacht champions into a 0-6 to 0-5 lead, after the sides had been level on five occasions.
They continued to go point for point, deadlocked eight times before excellent outstanding defender Declan Kyle finished off one of his many forays forward with a fine point to push the westerners into a two points lead on 55 minutes.
Pressing the Kerry kick-out, Galway were turning the screw, and the outlook became even more bleak for Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side when the experienced Young received a straight red card with 59 minutes played.
Adrian Varley came off the bench to shoot a couple of brilliant Galway points, and Kerry were depending heavily on youngster Clifford to keep them in the game.
Walsh converted his fourth free to make it a for points game, and despite losing Eoghan Kerin to a second booking, Galway put the game beyond the Munster champions’ reach with a breakaway goal. Walsh made the running to set up substitute Patrick Sweeney, who netted at the second attempt after Shane Murphy had brilliantly saved his initial effort.
It was all over for Kerry, with Clifford’s stoppage time goal making no difference to the outcome as Kevin Walsh and his men secured a massively significant result.
Galway: R Lavelle; D Kyne (0-01), SA O Ceallaigh, E Kerin; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; P Conroy (0-01), T Flynn; E Brannigan, M Daly, S Kelly (0-01); I Burke (0-02), D Comer (0-01), S Walsh (0-05, 4f).
Subs: P Cooke for Conroy (23), A Varley (0-02) for Daly (54), G O’Donnell for Bradshaw (64), P Sweeney (1-00) for Comer (64), F Burke for Burke (75).
Kerry: S Murphy (0-01, f); J Foley, P Crowley, B O Beaglaoich; P Murphy, K Young, G White; D Moran, J Barry; K McCarthy (0-01), S O'Shea, S O'Brien (0-01); D Clifford (1-05, 0-1f), P Geaney (0-02), J O'Donoghue.
Subs: T O’Sullivan for O Beaglaoich (h-t), A Maher for Barry (46), M Burns for O’Donoghue (51), M Griffin for Foley (64), D Walsh for O’Shea (64), BJ Keane for McCarthy (64).
Galway: R Lavelle; D Kyne, SA O Ceallaigh, E Kerin; C Sweeney, G Bradshaw, J Heaney; P Conroy, T Flynn; E Brannigan, M Daly, S Kelly; I Burke, D Comer, S Walsh.
Subs: P Cooke for Conroy (23), A Varley for Daly (54), G O’Donnell for Bradshaw (64)
Referee: B Cassidy (Derry)
More to follow...