Wednesday 29 January 2020

Moran and Clifford lead rout as Kerry lay down a serious marker

Kerry 1-22 Mayo 0-15

Aidan O'Shea of Mayo is tackled by Brian Ó Beaglaíoch of Kerry
Aidan O'Shea of Mayo is tackled by Brian Ó Beaglaíoch of Kerry

James Horan had suggested that Mayo could have won the league final by 10 to 12 points in March and ironically, that was the margin of defeat they suffered in Killarney three-and-a-half months later, as Kerry turned the screw on them in the final All-Ireland quarter-final game of the weekend.

Led by David Moran at midfield, whose majestic fielding was a highlight in the first half, and the brilliant David Clifford who landed seven points (five from play), the home side delivered their best championship performance in five years to inflict Mayo's heaviest championship defeat since the 2006 All-Ireland final.

In the process, they stretched the county's unbeaten championship record in Killarney to 31 games and laid down a significant championship marker for a developing team.

They needed a fast start and they got it, punching holes in the Mayo defence to lead by 0-4 to 0-1. Briefly, Mayo steadied matters but by the break, Moran's dominance at midfield and Mayo's kick-out failings - they lost nine of their 17 - had Kerry 0-15 to 0-6 in front.

Mayo did get a foothold after the break but a Paul Geaney goal, created by Stephen O'Brien, wrapped it up midway through the second half.

Cillian O'Connor had a penalty tipped over the bar by Shane Ryan in the 51st minute, just a minute after he had broken Colm Cooper's all-time championship scoring record with his fifth point. But passing such a milestone will have had a hollow feel to it on the back of such a heavy defeat.

Horan accepted they were "comprehensively" beaten and bemoaned the accuracy of their passing, while his counterpart Peter Keane said they were never concerned by the league defeat.

"We had eight changes. That's more than half a team. On top of that, a change that we hadn't made was David Clifford who had only one game played before that in a period of six months," he said.

"We had to give him that game to give time and get him rolling. I don't think you believe me at all when I'd be talking to you.

"I wasn't overly concerned about the league final. If we had won it, it would have been great coming away with a cup. We wouldn't have been jumping and shouting about it and we weren't crying coming down the road either. There is a huge amount of learning required for those fellas."

Keane was also happy with David Moran's contribution.

"We're very happy with where he's at because we need that bit of experience on the field. We have a young squad, a young team, a lot of young lads getting used to it, and we need that type of experience."

Clifford was virtually unplayable at times and had landed three points from play by the 21st minute. But it was his conversion of a free from 45 metres out, hugging the sideline on the stand side that really lifted the home contingent in the 31,312 crowd, helping them to a 0-12 to 0-4.

Even at that stage it felt like it was unassailable, such was the momentum Kerry had.

On this form, they can be considered real challengers to Dublin, though concerns still exist about their defence where Paul Murphy was prominent and Jason Foley and Tom O'Sullivan coped well with Mayo's form forwards, James Carr and Darren Coen.

Mayo still have a lot to play for, Horan acknowledged. "We're a little bit down in the dumps after our performance but we'll move on quickly. We've a long bus journey now to reflect and hopefully we'll be fine by the time we get off the bus. "

ScorerS: Kerry - S O'Shea (6fs), D Clifford (2fs) 0-7 each, P Geaney 1-2, S O'Brien 0-3, D Moran, G O'Sullivan, J O'Donoghue all 0-1 each. Mayo: C O'Connor 0-6 (0-3fs, 0-1 pen), D Coen 0-3, A Moran 0-2, L Keegan, F Boland, C Treacy, F McDonagh all 0-1 each.

Kerry: S Ryan; T O'Sullivan, J Foley, T Morley; P Murphy, S Enright, G Crowley; D Moran, A Spillane; G White, S O'Shea, S O'Brien; D Clifford, P Geaney, J O'Donoghue. Subs: D Moynihan for O'Donoghue (h-t), G O'Sullivan for Enright (51), D O'Connor for Spillane (58), B O Beaglaoich for Foley (62), M Burns for Geaney (69), M Griffin for Crowley (71)

Mayo: D Clarke; K Higgins, C Barrett, B Harrison; S Coen, L Keegan, C Boyle; A O'Shea, D Vaughan; F McDonagh, K McLoughlin, J Doherty; C O'Connor, D Coen, J Carr. Subs: S O'Shea for McDonagh (h-t), A Moran for Carr (46), C Treacy for McLoughlin (48), F Boland for Coen (52), J McCormack for Keegan (60), E O'Donoghue for Barrett (65).

Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone)

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