Kerry 2-18 Tyrone 0-12
Diarmuid O’Connor and Seanie O’Shea got the goals and Kerry got all the headlines as they belittled those who claimed Tyrone would give the reigning champions a run for their money in Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC quarterfinal at Croke Park.
This was as dominant a display from the Kingdom as any they produced last season and their return to form is timely with Derry next up in the last four when they return to HQ on Sunday, July 16.
For Kerry manager Jack O’Connor that game will be a step up in terms of the demands on his players with an All-Ireland final spot at stake, and he reminded them there is always room for improvement after this convincing double-score win.
“There’s never a complete performance. There’s always room for improvement,” O’Connor told RTE. “I thought we left a few scores after us out there but I’m delighted with the attitude of the boys. They were very determined leaving the hotel this morning, that they were going to put in a big performance, and they did that.
“Tyrone have very fast, dangerous forwards and we needed to clog the spaces. Tadhg Morley did a tremendous job giving us cover around the ‘D’. There were a lot of people concerned about Sean’s form earlier in the year but we’ve great faith in him. Once he got a bit of rest – and he’s off school at the moment, he’s able to get his energy levels up to where they need to be – there was never a fear for Seanie.
“I’m delighted for Diarmuid as well. He’s just coming of age around the middle of the field. We’ve had high hopes for him for a good few years.”
Three ahead at the break, 0-9 to 0-6, the 2022 winners outscored the 2021 champions by 2-9 to 0-6 in a dominant second half with Tyrone clearly tiring as the game went on, a result perhaps of their preliminary quarter-final endeavors against Donegal a week earlier.
“It was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde performance,” Tyrone joint manager Brian Dooher told RTE Sport. “We had a lot of energy and intensity against Donegal but we brought none of that here today. You have to give Kerry credit, they never let us play, but we were just a bit flat.
“We weren’t in a great place but we definitely weren’t in a bad place at halftime when we trailed by three points. It wasn’t unredeemable. It’s just disappointing in the second half. We needed a few scores to settle ourselves but never got that platform to build.
“We had a few unforced turnovers, sloppy play on occasions that gave Kerry a bit of momentum. And they went up and punished us with two or three scores. We can never get that back.
“At half-time, the gap was bigger than we wanted, but we still thought we could come out for the second half and go again. We never really got that platform to build on.”
Monaghan 0-14 Armagh 0-14
AET (Monaghan win 9-8 on penalties)
Monaghan goalkeeper Rory Beggan denied Armagh’s Callum Cumiskey not once but twice as Monaghan won a sudden death shoot-out to land victory in the All-Ireland SFC quarterfinal and a date with Dublin back at Croke Park on Saturday, July 15.
Beggan’s double saves from Cumiskey made the difference after 90 minutes of football and 17 penalties after the teams were level, 0-14 apiece, after extra time.
Speaking to RTE afterward, Beggan described the crucial save, “I was focusing on his run-up and had the benefit of him missing the first one.
“I had a feeling he was going to keep to the same side and he thought I was going to go to the other side. That’s all it was, just getting the big hand across and thankfully it stayed out. That’s what penalty shootouts are about, its pot luck really.
“We had a couple of boys out during the week hitting penalties, hitting the top corner, so we had a bit of confidence going into it. Armagh have been in a lot of them recently. There was a very high standard of penalties tonight and thankfully we saved more than they did.”
For Farney boss Vinny Corey, the All-Ireland semifinal was the aim all year as he revealed to the media after this win. “It’s what we targeted all year, to get to an All-Ireland semifinal,” he said.
“We knew coming down today it was a 50-50 game; Armagh wanted it, we wanted it. In fairness Armagh didn’t lose the game, we didn’t win the game, but we won a penalty shootout and that was enough to get into a semifinal.”
A disputed Conor McManus pointed free in the last seconds of injury time was also crucial with both sides under the impression time was already up as the free was awarded.
“Rory Beggan and Shane Carey communicated that there was one minute left; I thought it was the last kick,” said Corey. “We decided to work the score. In fairness all the boys got up, we worked the move and got the ball into the hands of Conor McManus. He won the free and scored the free. That was a crucial moment.”
Armagh boss Kieran McGeeney wasn’t quite as happy after a second penalty shoot-out defeat at this stage of the season.
“It is very tough. That’s sport isn’t it? Cruel,” said McGeeney. “Whatever it was, eight great penalties each and just unfortunate, one didn’t go in, it was hard on Callum (Cumiskey), but that’s just the nature of the beast with penalties.
“You feel for them. They’re a great bunch. They work hard. It was the same in the Ulster final. A few slim things go against them, and they’re finding it hard to get a break.”
As for the timekeeping, McGeeney said, “People seem to want to decide the game themselves and it is very difficult to take. But the sooner they stop thinking they know everything and take it from the ladies’ football and get it out of people’s hands so they know the times, the better. But listen, it’s the same for every team at the minute. We’re not the only ones.”