Kerry are All-Ireland champions after overcoming tough Galway challenge

Kerry are All-Ireland champions after overcoming tough Galway challenge

KERRY won their 38th All-Ireland SFC title after a 0-20 to 0-16 victory over Galway at Croke Park on Sunday.

The Kingdom must have feared their first-half profligacy would cost them, hitting seven wides in the opening 35 minutes to Galway's one as the Tribesmen led 0-8 to 0-7 at the break, Shane Walsh with five of their points.

A David Clifford point put Kerry ahead for the first time after 42 minutes but it remained a nip-and-tuck affair.

David Clifford of Kerry kicks a point despite the challenge of John Daly (Image: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Kerry hit a purple patch and hit four without reply but remarkably, after 17 minutes without a score, Galway hit two points in the space of a minute to level the game at 0-16 apiece with five minutes remaining.

However, as Galway tired, Kerry hit four without reply to seal a first title since 2014.


Speaking to Sky Sports after the game, Kerry defender Tadgh Morley said they knew it was going to be a battle against Galway.

"It was a very tough game altogether but that's what we expected for sure," he said.

"We knew Galway, the way they've come through so many tough games, they were battle-hardened and it's an All-Ireland final, they want to give absolutely everything.

"So we were going to go a bit defensive in the first half, we knew it was going to be tight, simple as that, we just had to grind it down.

"They did really well in the first half, they engaged all our defenders so we weren't able to create a plus one and Shane Walsh was kicking the lights out in fairness to him, so we knew it was going to be tough."

Shane Walsh of Galway in action against Kerry’s Tom O'Sullivan (Image: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

He added: "It's indescribable, there's a serious sense of relief there.

"You think maybe it's never going to happen, we've had so many downs there over the last few years and it's just amazing to get over the line.

"It was the same as the semi-final against the Dubs, you know, 'we can't leave this go, we can't lose this game, just do whatever we have to do to get over the line' and that's what we did."

Tribesmen out of the traps

Galway were appearing in their first final since winning the Championship in 2001, but they showed no signs of being fazed by the occasion.

They opened up a 0-4 to 0-1 lead after 13 minutes with Walsh hitting three of their points, including two frees.

Kerry had struggled to find their range, however three on the bounce from Paul Geaney, David Clifford and Stephen O'Brien levelled the game at 0-5 apiece.

The sides traded points but a Cillian McDaid point ensured Galway went in ahead at the break after a great team move.

Beginning with Connor Gleeson's kick-out, McDaid knocked over beautifully after neat interplay with Robert Finnerty to make it 0-8 to 0-7 at the break.

End to end

After the interval, Galway picked up where they left off with Walsh opening the scoring with a free, however David Clifford scored his fifth point of the game soon after.

Diarmuid O'Connor levelled once again with a great effort from the edge of the D only for the clinical Walsh to restore Galway's one-point lead with his seventh of the game.

However, two quick points from the Clifford brothers — a close-range effort from Paudie when he might have gone for goal and an effort from distance from David — put Kerry in the lead for the first time after 42 minutes.

Paudie Clifford of Kerry in action against Jack Glynn of Galway (Image: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

McDaid made it 0-11 apiece before Walsh and Killian Spillane traded excellent points from out wide.

Galway must have thought they had weathered the Kerry storm when two quick points from Kieran Molloy and McDaid swung the momentum the Tribesmen's way, restoring their two-point lead, 0-14 to 0-12.

However, the Kingdom moved up a gear and won a free when Gleeson fouled Spillane.

Kerry take control

There was no card but Seán O'Shea made no mistake from the free as Kerry began to take control.

After Graham O'Sullivan levelled, David Clifford put Kerry in front for a second time before Paudie Clifford cut through the middle and fired over to extended the Kingdom's lead, 0-16 to 0-14.

Kerry were knocking it about with confidence as Galway sat deep but after a long spell of possession, Tom O'Sullivan fired wide from distance.

Cillian McDaid of Galway is tackled by Gavin White and Jack Barry (Image: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

That killed the Kingdom's momentum somewhat and with the game moving into the last 10 minutes, Galway rallied again.

After Gavin White fouled McDaid, Walsh sent it over the bar from 30 metres out on the right to end a barren 17-minute spell for Galway.

Within seconds, they had levelled as McDaid pointed, but the late rally took its toll on the Tribesmen.

Kingdom finish strongly

David Clifford hit another free and after McDaid pulled a free wide at the other end, Spillane doubled Kerry's advantage, 0-18 to 0-16.

Paudie Clifford spurned a goal chance that would have all but wrapped it up, firing straight at Gleeson, who gathered at the second attempt.

Walsh, who had run himself into the ground, fired wide for Galway, while at the other end, White cut in from the left to collect an O'Shea pass and fire over with aplomb to make it a three-point game with two minutes left.

Kerry players and management celebrate with the Sam Maguire Cup after their victory over Galway (Image: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

As Galway searched for the goal they needed, they left themselves exposed at the back.

That gave Joe O'Connor, only just on as a sub, the chance to burst forward, winning a free off the outrushing Gleeson that O'Shea popped over.

Still Galway bravely pressed forward but Seán Hurson's whistle was the cue for Kerry to begin celebrating a phenomenal 38th All-Ireland SFC title.


Kerry: David Clifford (0-8, 0-3f, 0-2m), Seán O'Shea (0-3, 0-3f), Paudie Clifford (0-2), Killian Spillane (0-2), Graham O'Sullivan (0-1), Gavin White (0-1), Diarmuid O'Connor (0-1), Stephen O'Brien (0-1), Paul Geaney (0-1, 0-1m).

Galway: Shane Walsh (0-9, 0-4f, 0-1 '45), Cillian McDaid (0-3), Jack Glynn (0-1), Kieran Molloy (0-1), Paul Conroy (0-1), Johnny Heaney (0-1).