Kerry 1-15 Galway 2-11
Kerry fashioned a great escape on their home patch with a late goal from Paul Geaney that turned the second half upon its head.
Geaney’s goal came in the 71st minute and helped overturn what at that stage was a well deserved lead for the visitors to Austin Stack Park. For much of the second half the Tribesmen looked the more assertive and aggressive side and seemed to have the Kingdom very much on the back foot.
Galway's dominance of the second half was capped by a brilliant individual goal from Shane Walsh who spun by his marker and headed straight for goal before finishing past Shane Ryan in the Kerry goal. Walsh's strike gave Galway a 2-10 to 0-14 lead after 58 minutes in what was a pulsating encounter in a cauldron-like atmosphere in Tralee.
The loss of James O'Donoghue at half-time - he was replaced by Tommy Walsh - seemed to knock the Kingdom off kilter and they lacked the fluency that defined their attacking play in the first half of the match. Having wasted very few chances in the first half, Peter Keane's men saw their scoring efficiency drop off substantially in the second period.
Indeed almost immediately after Shane Walsh's strike Stephen O'Brien was almost in for a goal of his own, but was denied by an impressive Connor Gleeson. Another Shane Walsh point on 59 minutes seemed to have Galway in the driving seat. A black card for Cillian McDaid on 63 minutes, however, gave Kerry a chance to get back into the game
It took the Kingdom a little while to do so, but they did eventually regain a foothold in the game with Geaney prompting Kerry from deep to decent effect. The goal when it came was out of the top drawer from Kerry - with both David Clifford and O'Brien involved in assisting Geaney for the all-important finish. Seventy minutes gone and all square, 1-14 to 2-11.
In the frantic final few moments Kerry had the better chances to seal the deal, with Clifford hitting a shot off the upright from distance. Tommy Walsh was alive to the possibilities and collected before assisting Killian Spillane for the winner.
It was a really tough blow for Pádraic Joyce and his men to take having done so well for so much of the match. Joyce's team will will rue their first half profligacy where they took just six of sixteen chances with the Kingdom often looking wide open at the back. The green and gold conceded four first half goal chances, with the Tribesmen taking just one of those through corner-back Johnny Heaney after 17 minutes.
Kerry were moving very nicely in the first half with O’Donoghue on song and back to his best (he hit two brilliant points from play) - and they retired at the break in front 0-10 to 1-5.
And while they rode their luck at times, the Kingdom got there in the end. Their unbeaten record in tact.
Kerry: S Ryan, J Foley, G Crowley, G O'Sullivan, P Murphy, S Enright, G White, L Kearney, J Barry, G O'Brien, M Burns (0-2), S O'Brien (0-1), J O'Donoghue (0-2), D Clifford (0-6, 0-3 frees), P Geaney (1-2, 0-1 free) Subs: D O'Connor for G O'Brien (31 mins), T Walsh (0-1) for J O'Donoghue (h-t), D Moynihan for M Burns (55 mins), K Spillane (0-1) for L Kearney (60 mins),
Galway: C Gleeson, J Duane, S Mulkerrin, J Heaney (1-0), G O'Donnell, J Daly, C McDaid (0-1), R Steede, C D'Arcy, E Brannigan, D Comer (0-2, 0-1 mark), F Ó Laoi, R Finnerty, S Walsh (1-4, 0-2 frees), M Daly (0-1) Subs: S Kellly for J Duane (21 mins), M Tierney for R Finnerty (h-t), T Flynn for R Steede (41 mins), L Costello for F Ó Laoi (47 mins), A Varley for M Daly (54 mins). Black Card: C McDaid (63 mins).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow)