Wolfe Tones pulled off a feat that they had never accomplished before, a senior championship playoff victory. The Tones led at the break, but mid way through the half the Gaels took a brief lead. The Tones found a way to win this time and the points sailed over the bar down the stretch to see the Tones into a semi-final next week against Aidan McAnespies.
At the break the Tones held a four point lead in large part thanks to a Marty Farrell goal. Points from Farrell and Michael Argue put the Tones into an early lead. The Gaels Ger Leech, Calum McCormack and Ruairi Corrigan piunted five times between them for the Gaels.
Early in the half it was the Tones putting the scares into the Gaels defence. The South Boston lads were on top of the Gaels goal on a handful of occasions, and Farrell’s goal was the sum of the reward. For their part, the Gaels enjoyed plenty of the play as the half wore on, but the westerners missed several chances to pull closer to their opponents. At the half it was a 1-6 to 0-5 Tones lead.
The second half saw the Gaels look for Calum McCormack in the corner. The Westmeath man won plenty of ball, however, the Gaels missed a couple of goal chances before Corrigan netted to level the scores. McCormack pointed to put the Gaels one to the good, but the Tones started to gain a foothold in the middle of the field. Charles McCarthy switched with Michael Argue and possession fell in favour of the Tones.
The following period saw the Tones outscore the Gaels eight points to two to open a five point lead. Farrell, McVeety, Sean Higgins, and Lee Carr each put a dagger in Gaels hearts as the Tones dominated. The Gaels went in search of goals as the clock was against them, and the Tones held firm at the back. A huge win for Tones against the defending champions to see them into next week against arch rivals, Aidan McAnespies.
Gaels: E. Connolly, J. Donoghue, S. Connelly, C. Mulkerrins, C. Daly, J. Egan, C. Jones, C. Harkin, G. Leech, N. Graham, R. Corrigan, D. McCormack, C. McCormack. Tones: C. Hynes, K. Clarke, D. McConon, S. Higgins, C. Cleere, M. O’Brien, L. Flynn, M. Argue, D. McVeety, G. O’Connell, G. Brilly, M. Farrell, C. McCarthy.
Kerry pushed Donegal all the way in a battle of third and sixth placed teams. After the first 20 minutes Donegal looked as though they would come through the game at a canter, but three second half goals from Kerry had them in a one point lead late in the game. Donegal maintained their composure to level the scores and then take advantage of a last minute free to emerge one point winners.
Donegal’s forward line looked rampant at times in the first half, and on occasion the northerners returned Kerry kick outs back to score. Steven Griffin tallied a goal after rounding the keeper, and a good handful of points, while his cohorts, Sean Boyle, Ryan Murray, and Daniel McLaughlin turned the Kerry back line inside out on occasion. Boyle accounted for a goal to start the game after turning his man and finishing to the far corner.
Kerry had to be resourceful and tried to deploy their players as best they could. There were a few well taken scores for the kingdom. Joe Fitzpatrick, Robbie Croft, and Owen McGreevey tallied excellent points. Having spent much of the first half on the back foot and with the game looking like it could slip past them, Kerry ended the half brightly and trailed by just the two goals at the break.
Kerry kept it interesting in the second half. An Owen McGreavey goal with about five minutes gone brought Kerry within four points. The teams proceeded to swap points. Kerry were able to find openings in the Donegal rearguard, and on two occasions could have netted a second. Joe O’Shea’s shot was saved by Eamon McCarney and a second ended up over the bar from Graham Glenn. Kerry eventually leveled the game with 10 minutes to go. McGreavey created the overlap with a pacy run and Glenn was tripped in the box as he tried to round McCarney. Croft took the penalty and put it in the corner.
The game came to a rousing climax as it could have gone either way in the final 10 minutes. A second Croft goal, this time he may have been a little selfish but finished into the corner to put Kerry a goal to the good. Donegal, however, swept upfield from the kickout and moving the ball at speed leveled after Boyle palmed into the net. The teams remained level after trading points. The end came after a Kerry free was put wide from about 40 yards by Croft, and Griffin pointed from about 25 for Donegal with virtually the last kick of the game. Cruel disappointment for Kerry, and relief for Donegal
Donegal: E. McCarney, M. Canney, J. O’Connor, S. Doherty, G. Gallagher, C. Healy, M. Smyth, C. Thompson, G. Clancy, S. Griffin, D. McLaughlin, R. Murray, S. Boyle. Kerry: L. Stacey, M. Godley, A. Fitzgerald, J. O’Shea, S. Briggs, C. Moriarty, D. Foley, M. Condron, O. McGreavey, I. Whelan, J. Fitzpatrick, G. Glenn, R. Croft.