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CHAMPIONS! Cool Kerry steady the ship to claim All-Ireland title No. 38

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Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC Final

Kerry 0-20 Galway 0-16

Croke Park

A superb David Clifford free from a narrow angle proved to be crucial as Kerry powered to a four-point victory over Galway in today’s All-Ireland final in Dublin.

The teams were level on 0-16 and momentum was with Galway when Clifford swung over the lead score in the 67th minute, and fisted efforts by substitute Killian Spillane and Gavin White soon stretched Kerry’s advantage out to three.

Fittingly, the captains combined deep into injury time to seal the deal as Seán O’Shea tapped over a free that had been won by Joe O’Connor.

When Seán Hurson blew the final whistle, An Poc ar Buile reverberated around Croke Park and players, management and supporters basked in the glory of All-Ireland title No. 38. O’Shea and O’Connor lifted the Sam Maguire together to officially end the run of seven years in the wilderness, but one of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for the Clifford brothers, David and Paudie, who also lifted Sam Maguire side-by-side.

They said the youngest Clifford needed to win an All-Ireland before earning his place in the discussion around the all-time greats. After his performance today and the result it inspired, it’s officially time to talk.

GAVIN WHITE

Before the match began Kerry were buoyed by the inclusion in the starting line-up of Gavin White, the all-action wing back who had sustained a knee injury in the semi-final against Dublin.

White’s availability may have bolstered Kerry’s status as pre-match favourites but any hopes the green and gold faithful had of an easy win were abruptly blown out of the water.

Shane Walsh meant business from the get-go and the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man kicked a fabulous 45 to open the scoring in the 5th minute of play. Galway could have been celebrating an absolute dream of start were it not for a fine block by Stephen O’Brien; the Kerry No. 12 diverted Johnny Heaney’s goal-bound effort over the bar.

Kerry star David Clifford got the Munster champions up and running with a well-taken mark in the ninth minute, but Walsh fired back with two points in succession to make it 4-1 to the Tribesmen.

Clifford (free) and the silky Walsh (with the point of the half) then brought the scores to 5-2 at the midway point of the period.

The Kingdom were errant with their shooting in the first half but they were getting some joy from the high ball, and Paul Geaney gathered one such skyscraper to take his mark and his score. When Clifford kicked a super long-range point in the 18th minute there was just a point between the teams, and the sides were level just moments later when the lively O’Brien clipped over Kerry’s fifth of the day.

The two bona fide superstars on show, Walsh and Clifford, exchanged placed balls (a free and mark), before a high tackle by the latter on Seán Kelly brough the match to a standstill for a couple of minutes. Clifford was booked for the incident and the half rather petered out thereafter. Points by Galway corner back Jack Glynn and midfielder Cillian McDaid, either side of a Seán O’Shea free, left the scores at Galway 0-8 Kerry 0-7 at the interval.

At this point, Galway were more than good value for their lead, and Kerry’s All-Ireland hopes were very much up in the air.

TENSE AND TIGHT

Although the second half threatened to burst into life at stages, it remained fairly tense and tight throughout.

With Walsh continuing his frankly spectacular form, Galway were still a point to the good in the 40th minute (0-10 to 0-9), despite a couple of neat scores by David Clifford and Diarmuid O’Connor. (O’Connor, who lined out with No. 10 on his back, switched to midfield following half-time when David Moran was replaced by Adrian Spillane.)

Paudie Clifford came into the game more in the second period and he equalised in the 41st minute after being set up by the excellent Graham O’Sullivan. Seconds later David Clifford gave Kerry their first lead of the game when he capitalised on a wayward Connor Gleeson kickout by bombing one over from distance.

Pádraic Joyce’s side weren’t going anywhere, however, and with midfielder Cillian McDaid on fire in front of the posts, they once again led by two points with 47 minutes played.

In fairness to Kerry, they kept their cool despite the trying circumstances and a run of four consecutive scores from O’Shea (free), Graham O’Sullivan, David Clifford (free) and Paudie Clifford gave them their biggest lead of the day (0-16 to 0-14).

A harsh call on Gavin White for what appeared to be a fair shoulder on Paul Conroy afforded the Connacht champions a shot at the posts, which Walsh duly converted. When McDaid kicked his fourth point, the game was all square and the wind was in Galway’s sails.

Clifford’s fantastic free settled the nerves, though, and an impressively energetic yet totally calm display down the stretch won the day.

Speaking post-match, manager Jack O’Connor, who is celebrating his fourth All-Ireland as Kerry manager, said he hopes this victory “sparks something big”. That is, perhaps, a conversation for tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday.

For now, Kerry men, women and children at home and abroad can revel in the knowledge that the county’s football team is finally back where it belongs.

KERRY

1. Shane Ryan

2. Graham O’Sullivan (0-1)

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O'Sullivan

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich

6. Tadhg Morley

7. Gavin White (0-1)

8. David Moran

9. Jack Barry

10. Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1)

11. Seán O’Shea (0-3f)

12. Stephen O’Brien (0-1)

13. Paudie Clifford (0-2)

14. David Clifford (0-8, 3f, 2m)

15. Paul Geaney (0-1m)

SUBS

Killian Spillane (0-2) for Geaney (HT)

Adrian Spillane for Moran (HT)

Jack Savage for Paudie Clifford (temporary 43-47)

Micheál Burns for O’Brien (57)

Paul Murphy for Ó Beaglaoich (63)

Joe O’Connor for Paudie Clifford (73)

GALWAY

1. Connor Gleeson

2. Liam Silke

3. Seán Kelly

4. Jack Glynn (0-1)

5. Dylan McHugh

6. John Daly

7. Kieran Molloy (0-1)

8. Paul Conroy

9. Cillian McDaid (0-4)

10. Patrick Kelly

11. Matthew Tierney

12. Johnny Heaney (0-1)

13. Robert Finnerty

14. Damien Comer

15. Shane Walsh (0-9, 4f, 1 ’45)

SUBS

Finnian Ó Laoi for Rob Finnerty (47)

Conor Sweeney for Conroy (58)

Eoin Finnerty for Heaney (63)

Niall Daly for Tierney (74)

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Ladies’ Semi-Final Preview: Armagh stand between Kerry and a third shot at glory

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LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final

Kerry v Armagh

Saturday 7.15pm

O’Connor Park, Tullamore

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies are just 60 minutes away from their third All-Ireland final in a row but they will have to bring their ‘A’ game to overcome the challenge of Armagh at O’Connor Park in Offaly later today.

The Kingdom have been installed as competition favourites after beating Meath (and after champions Dublin lost to Galway) in the quarters and they should be in confident form following that victory over the Royals in Tralee a fortnight ago.

However, they are unlikely to have it all their own way against an Armagh side who have beaten them twice already this season, in the league in March and then in the league final in Croke Park in April.

Losing star player Aimee Mackin to an ACL injury in the Ulster final came as a tremendous blow to the Orchard County. Mackin scored 2-6 (2-5 from play) and 1-4 (1-2) from play in the two games against Kerry this year so her teammates will have to make up the difference in her absence.

Kerry, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the return from an ACL injury of Síofra O’Shea, who scored 0-3 off the bench against Meath. The skilful trio of Danielle O’Leary (1-28, 3f), Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (2-15, 9f) and Emma Dineen (4-5) have accounted for the bulk of the team’s scores this season with Hannah O’Donoghue and team captain Niamh Carmody also capable of finding the target.

Managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long will be hoping that this attacking threat coupled with the teak tough defending of Eilís Lynch, Deirdre Kearney and Aishling O’Connell will be enough to see them over the line. With the dependable Ciara Butler between the sticks, Kerry have kept three clean sheets in their last four games which is a record they would love to improve upon today.

Armagh, who haven’t played in a senior ladies’ football All-Ireland final since 2006, arrive at the semi-final stage on the back of wins over Meath and Mayo. Eve Lavery is their top scorer to date with 0-11 (7f) to her name. Blaithin Mackin, younger sister of Aimee, has chipped in with 1-5.

Kerry v Armagh will be preceded at O’Connor Park by the other All-Ireland semi-final between Galway and Cork. The Rebels last made the final in 2020 while The Tribeswomen are aiming to reach their first decider since 2019. Both counties lost to Dublin in those respective finals.

Galway v Cork starts at 5pm. Both matches will be shown live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh: C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, C Murphy; A O’Connell, D Kearney, A Dillane; M O’Connell, A Galvin; N Carmody (captain), D O’Leary, N Ní Chonchúir; H O’Donoghue, E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Armagh: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge (captain), R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, B Mackin; E Lavery, N Henderson, K Mallon.

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Jordan Lee vows to bounce back as injury ends 2024 Paralympic dream

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Killarney high jumper Jordan Lee is determined to bounce back stronger than ever after announcing his withdrawal from the Paralympic Selection Process due to injury.

The Killarney Valley AC athlete, who represented Ireland at the Tokyo Games in 2021, was hoping to wear the green singlet again in Paris in August/September but he was forced to pull out “due to an injury that had developed over the past couple of weeks”.

“[To say that I’m] absolutely gutted is an understatement considering the season that we’ve just had and being ranked number 6 in the world rankings on the lead-up,” Lee said via Instagram.

“This is sport at the highest level and unfortunately this is an injury that couldn’t turn right in time for Paris which is only a few weeks away.”

The local lad went on to thank Killarney Valley and his coaches Tomás Griffin, Alan Delaney and Shane O’Rourke for their support, as well as his sponsors PTSB, Puma, Toyota, Kellihers Garage and Output Sports.

“To my family and my friends, I’ve always repped that Irish vest with the utmost pride, not just representing myself and my beautiful country, but my amazing family and friends that I have too. I love ye all.

“Wishing my teammates within Paralympics Ireland all the very best in Paris.

“Roll on 2025 for the Europeans. I’ll be back better and ready for vengeance. Believe that.”

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