Galway 0-14 Kerry 0-13
It wasn’t quite the afternoon an empire crumbled, yet it was a memorable moment in time as Kerry finally lost a game in the Electric Ireland minor football championship.
Remarkably, the last time that had happened was August 4th, 2013, a six-year spell of dominance in which a 34-game winning streak had elevated Kerry to five All-Ireland wins in a row.
The first four of those were played at the traditional U-18 age grade with the competition moving to an U-17 format since the beginning of the 2018 campaign.
It’s been an incredible run, under three different managers, but it all came to a crashing end at Croke Park as Galway, beaten by Kerry in last year’s final, returned to haunt the Munster champions.
In truth, Kerry will be tormented at not winning this game because they kicked 13 wides and dropped three point attempts into the goalkeeper’s arms in the first-half alone.
On top of that, they had four goal chances that yielded just two points and there were a series of late wides and a point attempt that hit the post that will linger in the memory.
Yet to suggest that Galway were gifted their final place on September 1st against Cork would be wrong. Donal O Fatharta’s side dug deep all summer and displayed their resilience again, particular in the third quarter.
The beaten Connacht finalists led by 0-7 to 0-5 at half-time, only to concede four points to Kerry within 122 seconds of the restart. It was stunning stuff from Kerry, akin to Dublin the evening before.
But Galway refused to yield and impressively outscored Kerry by 0-7 to 0-3 from there on to claim the spoils.
Tomo Culhane, who came on in last year’s final, scored four of those Galway points and had a strong game generally along with midfielder James McLaughlin and the defence in general.
It was Darragh Kennedy that ultimately settled it in Galway’s favour, the substitute hitting the 61st minute point that would separate them.
Galway: D Halleran; R King, J McGrath, L Tevan; C Hernon (0-1), E Fiorentini, K O'Neill; J McLaughlin, D O'Flaherty; E Nolan, W Seoige (0-2), D Brady (0-2); N Grainger (0-1), T Culhane (0-6, 0-4f), D Cox (0-1). Subs: C Gallagher for O'Flaherty (39), N Cunningham for Grainger (48), J Webb for O'Neill (51), D Kennedy (0-1) for Brady (57).
Kerry: D Burns; K O'Sullivan, A Dineen, L Chester; E O'Sullivan, A Curran, S O'Brien (0-1); C O Beaglaoich, R Collins; G Hassett, C Crowley (0-1), D Lynch (0-3); E O'Shea (0-3), D Geaney (0-3), J O'Connor (0-2). Subs: D O'Callaghan for Crowley (39), J Linehan for Lynch (45), K Goulding for O'Shea (55), T O hAinifein for Collins (58), R O'Grady for Geaney (63).
Ref: M McNally (Monaghan).