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Brave Kerry down Dubs thanks to ‘unkickable’ Seánie Shea free

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Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final

Kerry 1-14 Dublin 1-13

Speaking to the media after the game, Jack O’Connor admitted that he didn’t think it was kickable.

77 minutes on the clock.

All square.

54 metres out.

A place in the All-Ireland final on the line.

Deafening noise from Hill 16.

A stiff wind coming the wrong way.

A decade of Dublin dominance hanging in the air.

Seán O’Shea, who had fluffed a penalty in the first half, stands upright, draws one last deliberate intake of breath, strides, and strikes.

It wasn’t kickable.

Until it was.

When the dust settles, O’Shea’s point – the final, killer blow in an absorbing slugfest – could well go down as the greatest act of individual brilliance in the history of Kerry football.

Joyous scenes followed the final whistle as Kerry booked a spot in the All-Ireland final, where they will face Galway.

That’s two weeks down the road. For now, players, management and supporters can bask in one of the county’s sweetest ever wins.

ATMOSPHERE

As the match began, the atmosphere inside a sun-soaked Croke Park was spine-tingling. Due to a combination of Covid and premature championship exits, both sets of fans had been waiting for a big Dublin-Kerry match like this since 2019. Certainly in terms of drama, this battle did not disappoint.

Dublin corner back Lee Gannon kicked the first score of the game into the Hill and into a strong breeze, but the Sky Blues quickly found themselves chasing the game.

Seán O’Shea equalised within seconds of Gannon’s opener and Kerry fans really found their voice in the fourth minute when O’Shea latched on to David Moran’s long ball before dispatching a cool finish beyond the reach of Evan Comerford.

Dean Rock (free) and Brian Howard replied for the Dubs and then Kerry scored three on the bounce. David Clifford (free), Tom O’Sullivan and Clifford again pushed the lead out to four in the 12th minute.

That gap was cut to three by John Small before Clifford grabbed the spotlight once again with two superb scores. The first came from a mark after a great catch and the second was a thing of beauty from long range.

While he was shaping up to kick the latter shot, John Small was dragging Paul Geaney down off the ball, an incident which resulted in a black card.

Rock and O’Shea exchanged scores and then O’Shea missed a golden opportunity in the 31st minute when his tame penalty was saved by Comerford. The Kerry centre forward lashed at the rebound from close range but Comerford saved again, and a scuffle broke out as the Dubs accused O’Shea of dangerous play.

Tempers cooled as Comerford slowly recovered, and the Munster champions finished the half in the ascendency when David Clifford fired over a brilliant individual point. Kerry led by five at the break (1-8 to 0-6). Half the job done, and no more than that.

SPARKED

The Kingdom appeared to be handling the game well in the early stages of the second half but a fabulously executed goal by Cormac Costello in the 45th minute sparked the home team into life. Ciarán Kilkenny fisted over to make it a one-point game shortly after.

Man of the Match Paudie Clifford tagged on two crucial scores as he and his colleagues tried to hold back the wave but three straight points by Kilkenny, James McCarthy, and Kilkenny again drew Dublin level with a minute of normal time to play.

Croker was rocking at this point and the nerves of Kerry supporters were jangling, but in the 73rd minute O’Shea engineered a free near the goal which he then converted to put Kerry ahead.

Dean Rock equalised with a free of his own two minutes later and the game looked to be heading for extra time until David Clifford was fouled way out from the posts.

Goalkeeper Shane Ryan came forward to offer his services but O’Shea waved him away. He didn’t want an out. He was the man for the job.

Kerry's number 11. The captain on the field. The man who kicked the unkickable free.

KERRY: S Ryan; G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O'Sullivan (0-1); B Ó Beaglaoich, G White, T Morley; J Barry, D Moran; D O’Connor, S O’Shea (1-4, 2f), S O’Brien; P Clifford (0-2), D Clifford (0-6, 1f, 1m), P Geaney.

Subs: D Moynihan (0-1) for O’Brien (41), K Spillane for Geaney (41), A Spillane for Moran (51), P Murphy for G O’Sullivan (62), J O’Connor for White (66).

DUBLIN: E Comerford; E Murchan, M Fitzsimons, L Gannon (0-1); J Small (0-1), J Cooper, J McCarthy (0-1); B Fenton (0-1), T Lahiff; S Bugler (0-1), B Howard (0-1), C Kilkenny (0-3); C Costello (1-0), D Rock (0-3f), L O’Dell.

Subs: P Small (0-1) for O’Dell (40), D Byrne for Cooper (41), S McMahon for Murchan (57), N Scully for Howard (61), C Murphy for Fitzsimons (72).

Attendance: 73,602

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Kerry ladies must bounce back at home to Waterford

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All-Ireland Senior Championship Group 2

Kerry v Waterford

Saturday 3pm

Fitzgerald Stadium

The Kerry ladies will be looking to get back to winning ways against Waterford on Saturday following last weekend’s frustrating draw against Donegal in Ballybofey.

The Kingdom led with seconds remaining in treacherous conditions but a late Donegal free snatched a draw for the home side (Donegal 1-6 Kerry 0-9). It was a game that Kerry would have been expecting to win and the result puts a lot more pressure on them this weekend as they try to top the three-team group and earn a home quarter-final.

If they beat Waterford and Donegal do likewise next week, Kerry and Donegal will be level in first place on four points each. The top seed will then be decided by the head-to-head record between the teams. As Kerry v Donegal was a draw, the deciding factor will be whoever scored the most points in that draw. That would be good news for Kerry as they scored nine points to Donegal’s six.

When Kerry and Waterford last met (in this year’s Munster Championship), Kerry needed a late winner by Fiadhna Tangney to prevail by narrowest of margins (1-8 to 1-7). If Waterford beat Kerry and then lose to Donegal, Kerry would be eliminated from the championship.

The Kerry squad has been boosted by the return of Síofra O’Shea who came off the bench against Donegal following a lengthy period out with a knee injury.

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US-bound Kerry runner Lynch hopes to emulate Mageean magic

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by Adam Moynihan

Killarney middle distance runner Oisín Lynch is taking inspiration from newly crowned European 1500m champion Ciara Mageean as he gets set for the next stage of his career in the United States.

This week Lynch confirmed that he will be heading Stateside after accepting a scholarship at Adams State University in Colorado. The promising 800m and 1500m competitor caught the eye of coaches at the leading American college after representing Ireland in the Youth Olympics and also by winning two national titles in recent months.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, the 18-year-old Killarney Valley AC athlete, who is currently doing his Leaving Cert at St Brendan’s College, says he one day hopes to emulate Mageean’s heroics on the international stage.

“The Irish are on the up at underage and at senior level,” Lynch notes. “We have been improving a lot in recent years. When you see Ciara Mageean winning the 1500m it just shows that it can be done by Irish people.

“Sometimes Irish athletes don’t really believe in themselves when they’re getting knocked out of championships by English or European athletes. Mageean winning that European title is definitely something to drive me on. It shows that I can actually do it.”

DREAM

For Lynch, moving to the United States is a hugely significant step, and one that he has dreamed about making since he was a child.

“It’s unbelievable. I always hoped I could earn a scholarship. I worked hard over the last few years, so it’s nice to see that work paying off.

“I had a few schools onto me but when Adams State got in touch, I sized it up and I knew it was a really good opportunity.

“The fact that the college is at 7,500 feet… That’s a crazy altitude. It’s double the height of Carrauntoohil. Altitude training has massive benefits for distance running and nowadays nearly every pro spends most of their year training at altitude. The chance to get that training for the next couple of years is great.

“And their athletics programme is unbelievable. Coach Damon Martin has been there for 40 years and he has coached 12 Olympians. Adams State is in the top 15 for distance in the country and the standard out there in America is very high.”

STRIDES

Killarney Valley AC have made enormous strides since building their new, state-of-the-art facility in 2020 and Lynch is a grateful beneficiary of that progress.

“I can’t thank the club enough. Going back a couple of years we were training on grass in parks. When you want to be a track runner, it’s just not the same. After a lot of hard work by a lot of good people, we managed to get a 200-metre track in Killarney. That’s massive for us and it’s all we need for training.

“The coaches down there are putting in the hard work, including my dad (Con), Tomás Griffin, Jean Courtney, Jerry Griffin, Bríd Stack, Alan Delaney… I could go on. It’s a great club and there are some good athletes coming through. It’s an exciting time for Killarney Valley.”

After Lynch completes his Leaving Cert, he will start preparing for life as a college athlete. He will study kinesiology in Colorado and on the track he hopes to keep on moving in the right direction. That means getting his times down (his current PBs are 1.50.59 over 800m and 3.51 over 1500m), representing Ireland, and hopefully winning a national title in America.

“Obviously I’ll take every step as it comes,” the ambitious Kerryman says, “but the Olympics is the main long-term target, hopefully in LA in 2028.”

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