Rebels up next for Donegal


GAA review:Donegal withstood a late Kerry rally to reach the All-Ireland semi-finals in front of a crowd of 56,191 at Croke Park. Donegal will play Cork in the last four on August 26th after the Rebels earlier crushed Kildare on a score-line of 2-19 to 0-12.

Donegal’s passage to the semi-finals looked assured when they led by six points with just six minutes remaining but a Kieran Donaghy goal and points from Paul Galvin and Anthony Maher reduced the arrears to a single point. An injury time score from Karl Lacey gave Donegal the insurance point they craved and Jim McGuinness’s team were able to hold on for victory in the remaining seconds.

Donegal gained an early advantage when Colm McFadden’s side-line ball fortuitously floated beyond the rising Michael Murphy and Aidan O’Mahony directly into the Kerry net in the eighth minute.

Kerry responded quickly to the set-back and points from Colm Cooper and Declan O’Sullivan helped to reduce the arrears. Aidan O’Mahony marshalled Donegal captain Michael Murphy with assurance but McFadden was having a more fruitful day in front of goal and it meant that at half-time Donegal held a precarious 1-4 to 0-5 lead.

Kerry manager Jack O’Connor was forced to make changes after injuries to Eoin Brosnan and Bryan Sheehan, and when Donegal began to play with greater cohesion and more attacking intent, the Ulster champions were able to stretch their lead in the second half.

McFadden again proved to be Donegal’s main scoring threat and free-kicks from Murphy and a point from substitute Christy Toye pushed them into a six-point lead with six minutes left to play.

Kerry applied more pressure in the closing stages and when Donaghy’s palmed goal was deemed to be legal and two further points followed in its immediate aftermath, Jack O’Connor’s charges may have been thinking that a replay was a realistic ambition. As it was, Lacey’s point in injury time was enough to kill of any comeback hopes that Kerry might have had.

The first semi-final at was anything but close, as Cork recorded an emphatic victory over a jaded Kildare side. Cork were in control for all but 20 minutes of the match, restricting Kildare to just four second-half points. In contrast, Cork fired over 14 points in the same period to ensure that the closes stages were extremely comfortable for the All-Ireland champions of 2010.

After 14 minutes the sides were level but a Kildare own-goal after a quarter of an hour was quickly followed by another Cork goal scored by Colm O’Neill. Kildare might have considered themselves unlucky to have conceded the first after goalkeeper Shane Connolly saved Paul Kerrigan’s shot from close range, but the parry rebounded off Eoin Doyle and into his own net.

There was nothing lucky about Cork’s second though which saw O’Neill palm the ball into the net from close range. It gave Cork a 2-5 to 0-3 lead but it was at that point that Kildare began to play their best football.

Johnny Doyle, Eoghan O’Flaherty and James Kavanagh all pointed for a half-time deficit of three points, 2-5 to 0-8.

Kildare could not sustain a challenge in the second half, however, and Cork’s robust and direct running proved problematic for their defence. Aidan Walsh was outstanding in midfield and contributed three points, two of which were from open play. Cork dominated all over the pitch and scores from Paudie Kissane, Colm O’Neill and substitute Daniel Goulding only underlined their superiority.

Eoin Doyle’s dismissal in the 53rd minute for a second bookable offence only weakened Kildare further. The Lilywhites were only able to muster their first point of the second half after 25 minutes. By that stage, the match was over as a contest and Cork ran down the clock in complete control.

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