Galway 2-14 Kerry 2-10
Galway under-21 football manager Gerry Fahy said it was apparent from the time this group of players assembled at the outset of the campaign that they were a special group with a point to prove.
Galway's previous inability to make a big impression was a point of frustration, so to take out the county which won the last three All-Ireland minor titles was particular sweet as the young Tribesmen advanced to a showdown with Dublin in what will be the last ever All-Ireland under-21 final.
Galway’s free-flowing football just blew a fancied Kerry away in an entertaining semi-final at Ennis and in the end the margin should have been much greater.
“Right from the day that we met you could sense from our lads that they were on a mission,” said Fahy. “They were going to give it everything they had and thankfully it worked out well for us.
“These lads hadn’t done well at minor level, they would have been disappointed that things didn’t go well for them.
“We were very determined to win a Connacht championship. We won that, we were hoping it wouldn’t satisfy us, now we are in a final we are going to have a right good crack at it,” he said.
His men produced an early blitz which blew the Kingdom away, with Dessie Conneely’s goal after just 21 seconds seeing them 1-7 to 0-1 in front after just 10 minutes.
Cillian McDaid was superb in defence, Peter Cooke and Cein D'Arcy controlled midfield, while up front Michael Daly led an attack which should have been even further ahead but for the squandering of several good goal chances.
They still led by 1-9 to 0-1 at the interval, with Matthew O’Sullivan giving Kerry hope when he repeated Conneely’s feat and found the net in just 21 seconds after the restart.
Killian Spillane, son of former Kerry player Tom, landed a few frees and goalkeeper Shane Ryan went forward to kick a second free from distance and this cut the gap to a goal going into the final quarter.
But then midfielder Barry O'Sullivan was sent off when he picked up a second yellow card and Galway took control again and pulled away with impressive substitute Colin Brady wrapping it up with their second goal.
Kerry manager Jack O'Connor admitted the better team won but was unhappy with Kildare referee Brendan Cawley.
"I just thought on the day that we didn't get a whole pile of breaks from that man. Galway seemed to get frees a bit easier than we got frees. There was a case in point there when Jordan Kiely appeared to be fouled on the Galway 21 and play went on and Galway wound up getting a handy up enough free down the other side.
“Look, we are only splitting hairs there. I think Galway were better, but certainly on the day, we didn’t seem to get a lot of breaks,” said O’Connor.
GALWAY: R O Beolain; L Kelly, S O Ceallaigh, R Greene; K Molloy (0-1), D McHugh, C McDaid (0-1); P Cooke (0-5, three frees), C D'Arcy (0-1); S Kelly (0-2), M Daly (0-2), P Mannion (0-1); R Finnerty (0-1), E Finnerty, D Conneely (1-0). Subs: C Brady (1-0) for Mannion (41 mins), M Boyle for R Finnerty (54 mins), C Brennan for D'Arcy (56 mins), E Lee for McDaid (60 mins).
KERRY: S Ryan (0-2, frees); Tom Leo O'Sullivan, J Foley, Tom O'Sullivan; B O Beaglaoich, B O Seanachain, G White; A Barry, B O'Sullivan; B Barrett, S O'Shea (0-1, free), M Flaherty (0-2); K Spillane (0-4, three frees), M O'Sullivan (1-0), C Geaney (0-1, free). Subs: M Burns for Barrett (29 mins), R O Se for O Seanachain (41 mins), J Kiely (1-0) for S O'Shea (45 mins), J Morgan for White (55 mins), D O'Brien for O Beaglaoich (60 mins).
Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).