The critics have had a field day with an alleged lack of competitiveness in the Super 8s this summer, but Sunday’s clash between Donegal and Kerry, a game which finished 1-20 apiece, was the exception to the rule.
Just 40,000 fans were in Croke Park for the doubleheader with the Mayo win over Meath, but those who did attend were served up a treat as these two giants were level 16 times in total, including at the final whistle.
The result means Donegal, Kerry, and Mayo can all qualify for the semifinals going into the final round of fixtures the first weekend of August when Kerry knows a win against Meath in Navan will put them into the semifinals and a game against Dublin or Tyrone.
As the dust settled in headquarters on Sunday evening, Kerry boss Peter Keane was happy just to soak up the atmosphere on an afternoon of mixed emotions as Paul Geaney’s 1-4 haul proved crucial.
“Look you’re coming in, hoping at the end of the day you’d have four points out of the three games. Look, you have three so it’s better than two,” Keane said.
“I thought we fought like hell towards the end. I thought there was a never say die attitude by us. There were a couple of frees that went against us that was bordering on not being frees. I think every time we were getting ahead; they were getting back into it in some way or another. I thought we fought, and fought well.”
Keane lost David Moran and midfielder Jack Sherwood from his starting team due to injury but expects to have both men back for the trip to Navan.
“David Moran will be fine for Meath, hopefully. We lost Gavin White on top of it. Throw in Jack Barry as well. We were a few bodies down so we are hopeful that we will be at full tilt against Meath,” he said.
Donegal has to beat Mayo now to stay in the Championship, but manager Declan Bonner was more interested in praising the character of his players after Sunday’s draw.
“It was some match, no doubt about it,” Bonner told RTE. “Both teams went at it, and I think, at the end of the day, a draw was probably a fair result.”