McHugh and Murphy axis earns Donegal deserved share of spoils
Donegal 1-20 Kerry 1-20
Cool as ice, Michael Murphy landed a pressure free after five minutes of injury-time had elapsed to secure a draw for Donegal in a thrilling Super 8s clash with Kerry yesterday.
Kerry looked to have won with a Paul Murphy point four minutes into added-time, until Donegal's Murphy brought his tally to 1-7 for the day from a free won by Jamie Brennan, capping another monumental Murphy performance.
He had able assistance from Ryan McHugh who was outstanding and young Oisín Gallen came off the bench to kick two vital scores, another player with ice in his veins, but Kerry had some spellbinding moments and Paul Geaney finished with 1-4, his companions Stephen O'Brien and Killian Spillane each kicking three.
Donegal head to Castlebar for the final round against Mayo, who won the curtain-raiser against Meath. Kerry face Meath, who are out of the championship following a second defeat earlier in the day. In greasy underfoot conditions this match lit up the Super 8s with an abundance of wonderful scores, a contest deadlocked 15 times.
"Relieved or disappointed? A bit of both," said Kerry boss Peter Keane afterwards.
Rival manager Declan Bonner's view was: "I thought Michael (Murphy) was unbelievable in that second half and Ryan (McHugh) really took the fight. But to a man, they all really emptied it out there and that's all you can ask. We have to do it all again in two weeks."
Looking ahead to the Mayo clash he added: "It is a difficult place to get a result and our preparations will start this evening on our way home. It is a winner-takes-all. It is an All-Ireland quarter final with a semi-final place at stake back here (in Croke Park) in three weeks' time."
In such a tight match goals were going to prove critical and Kerry looked to have gained a significant advantage when Geaney scored the first in the 44th minute to lead 1-11 to 0-12.
Before that goal two huge 50m frees from Murphy put Donegal ahead after they trailed Kerry for much of the first half and at the break Kerry were one point ahead.
Geaney's second half goal saw him react quickest to nip in and take possession after Donegal carelessly lost the ball, the Kerry forward quickly making ground and then rifling a shot past Shaun Patton. But the outstanding McHugh then set up Gallen to reply immediately, quickly answered by one from Tom O'Sullivan at the other end.
In the 53rd minute Donegal scored their goal through a Murphy penalty, struck low to the keeper Shane Ryan's right. The goal briefly restored Donegal's lead, 1-14 to 1-13.
From the next play, pressurising the Kerry kickout, Donegal broke forward and a succession of passes, the last from Frank McGlynn, offered Eoin McHugh a goal chance but he caught the ball and then threw it in, needing to bat the ball to the net.
In injury-time Kerry sub Tomás O Se was red carded after coming only a minute earlier.
Kerry held a 0-10 to 0-9 lead at half-time, O'Shea's third converted free nudging them in front in injury-time.
Missing three experienced defenders in Neil McGee, Paddy McGrath and Eoghan Ban Gallagher, they were under pressure at times, with Kerry's intelligent movement creating gaps.
The teams were level at 0-2 a piece when Clifford was denied a goal by Shaun Patton after a defence-splitting pass by SeáO'Shea.
In the 26th minute there was another let-off. Patton was less impressive on this occasion when breaking the ball in an area heavy with Kerry traffic and when Geaney gained possession he had goal on his mind. But Ryan McHugh did superbly in shadowing him and his shot was hurried and high, a point the result.
Geaney finished the first half with three points and won the last free scored by O'Shea, while O'Brien kicked two after incisive runs, but Clifford was well marshalled.
SCORERS - DonegaL: M Murphy 1-7 (0-4f, 1-0 pen), P McBrearty 0-5 (0-3f), R McHugh, O Gallen, M Langan 0-2, J McGee, N O'Donnell 0-1. Kerry: P Geaney 1-4, S O'Shea 0-4 (0-3f), S O'Brien, K Spillane 0-3, D Clifford 0-2 (0-1f), T O'Sullivan, J Foley, P Murphy 0-1.
DONEGAL: S Patton; O McFadden-Ferry, E Doherty, S McMenamin; R McHugh, C Ward, E McHugh; H McFadden, J McGee; C Thompson, N O'Donnell, J Brennan; P McBrearty, M Murphy, M Langan. Subs: D O Baoill for J McGee (inj, 24), O Gallen for O'Donnell (bc, 37), F McGlynn for H McFadden (inj, 38), P Brennan for Doherty (47), B McCole for McFadden-Ferry (63), L McLoone for Thompson (70).
KERRY: S Ryan; J Foley, T Morley, T O'Sullivan; P Murphy, G Crowley, G White; S Enright, D O'Connor; A Spillane, S O'Shea, K Spillane; D Clifford, P Geaney, S O'Brien. Subs: J Lyne for White (bc, 34), J Sherwood for O'Connor (44), M Griffin for Enright (56), G O'Sullivan for Crowley (63), M Burns for A Spillane (68), T O Se for K Spillane (73).
REFEREE: P Neilan (Roscommon).
ATT: 48,723. PLAYER OF MATCH: Ryan McHugh (Donegal).