Kerry vs Galway: Galway came from behind at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise to secure a hard-earned victory over Kerry in Group Three of the TG4 All-Ireland SFC.
This All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final wasn’t the feast of attacking football neutrals might have hoped for, but Galway will hardly mind. They showed a lot of grit and self-belief to overcome a disappointing Kerry who were almost totally reliant on the brilliant David Clifford to keep them in the game.
This felt like a really significant victory for Galway, and not just because it was their first over Kerry in Championship football since 1965. If there were any doubts about their ability to really challenge hard for the Sam Maguire Cup this year coming into the game, there surely aren’t now.
It was an arm-wrestle of a contest for the first 50 minutes, but in the final 20 Galway comprehensively overpowered Kerry’s young side. In that period they played with the sort of precision that had eluded both sides in what was a fairly miserable and error-strewn first half of football.
To be fair, the weather conditions made life very difficult for the players. A fine rain sheeted down throughout the match, turning the ball into a bar of soap and making underfoot conditions really difficult too.
Still, the quality of the play for most of the first half in particular was well below what you would have expected from two teams with so many high calibre footballers. Kevin McCarthy got the game off to a promising start with a nice point after just three minutes, but we’d have to wait another ten for the next score when Shane Walsh levelled the game up with a free.
David Clifford immediately replied with a typically classy point for Kerry, but Galway were coming more and more into the contest and points from Ian Burke and Paul Conroy edged them ahead by the 17th minute.
Conroy was making his presence felt in the middle of the pitch, but unfortunately for him and Galway he was forced off the field shortly after scoring that point when he and Seán O’Shea came together in a thunderous collision that echoed around the stadium.