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Monday, 05 July 2010 21:07

Kerry class foils brave Limerick

By Colm Keys ©


For Limerick, there was no consolation in their contribution to what is fast evolving into a superb summer of championship football.

For then, the hurt and hardship is beginning to spin out of control. It is 114 years since their last Munster football title and if cups and medals were being given out for valour and willingness, shelves from Galbally to Newcastle West would be heaving by now.

They found themselves seven points down at the end of the third quarter in Killarney, blitzed by some 15 minutes of scintillating Kerry at their very best.

Into the bargain was a freshening breeze growing in strength into the Dr Crokes end that they had to face into. In essence, they found themselves climbing a cliff in slippers. The game was gone from them and the threat of a rout from a Kerry side beginning to enjoy their day hung precariously in the Killarney air.

Yet within eight minutes they were level, an unanswered 1-4 of their own raising the temperature of the occasion once more and providing sight of the finish line that has eluded them for so long.

But too often that vision becomes blurred with the fog of hesitancy and for a further eight minutes they couldn't get that crucial lead point, so important for momentum and the conviction required. When you leave a game hanging in the balance like it was at such a critical juncture, champions like Kerry will be quick to capitalise and so it proved. Three points in the closing three minutes from Colm Cooper, David Moran and finally Tomas O Se, off his left foot, lifted Kerry to safety and a 73rd Munster title.

Even then Limerick refused to bend. It was one of the game's enduring images, the sight of John Galvin trying to burrow his way through a packed Kerry goalmouth after fetching from the skies in the dying moments.


There was no way through; referee Pat Fox was never going to award a penalty but still Galvin battled, a willing general right to the bitter end. No one encapsulated Limerick's plight more than Galvin, on the wrong side on four Munster final defeats now.

If his father had stayed closer to his Finuge roots, Galvin could have as many All-Ireland medals as Tomas O Se by now. But being a native of Croom has sent him on a completely different journey, one that will now probably end empty-handed in terms of tangible success.

His influence here could never be understated. He opened the scoring with a driving run and fisted point from the throw-in just 14 seconds in, helping his team into a quickfire 0-4 to 0-0 lead.

When Limerick drifted seven points behind after that impressive Kerry burst in the second half, it was Galvin's goal which re-ignited them and a subsequent point which brought them level, 1-14 each, when no one else could find a way through.

With Jim Donovan also impressing, the dominance Limerick enjoyed around midfield was substantial and by the 33rd minute Kerry were forced to send in Micheal Quirke for some stability. By that stage, Limerick were 0-10 to 0-5 clear but Quirke's impact was instant, getting his hand to a kick-out that propelled Mike McCarthy clear for an important point.



By the break, Quirke had done enough to give Kerry a foothold and a 0-10 to 0-7 deficit, given the wind, seemed more than manageable.

For 15 minutes after the restart Kerry could do no wrong. Quirke won kick-outs and those he couldn't win he ensured Limerick didn't win either.

Whatever about a dearth of mobility and pace, his size and eye for a ball always makes a compelling case for his inclusion at some point of a game.

Declan O'Sullivan picked off three points, McCarthy added another and Kerry hoovered up all the breaks around their big man, who chipped in himself with a rare fisted point to give them the lead for the first time on 38 minutes. Anything they touched turned to gold and Limerick couldn't live with the quickening pace.

In all, Kerry hit Limerick for 1-9 without reply either side of the break before they drew breath. Behind midfield, O Se made intelligent runs and picked off pinpoint passes while Killian Young had his best game for some time.

O Se was doing well to be on the field at that stage after a succession of fouls on Stephen Kelly that at the least deserved yellow cards. A trip, an elbow into the face and a crude late challenge as the Limerick man scored his only point were either missed or not dealt with sufficiently.

Cooper's goal on 49 minutes as Donnacha Walsh prodded a pass into his path off a break from an O Se delivery looked to have pushed it beyond doubt until that Galvin-inspired rally.

They'll regret some of the 13 wides they recorded and Ian Ryan's failure to get more involved in the game. They scored 1-14 but Ryan didn't register, not a statistic they could have anticipated.

Stephen Lucey was a success on Kieran Donaghy, relishing the physical challenge, while Stephen Kelly ran his heart out. Up front, Ger Collins tormented Tom O'Sullivan, forcing Jack O'Connor into substituting the All Star defender again. O'Sullivan's form will concern Kerry as they turn towards Croke Park, their great cathedral; so too will the malaise at midfield that Quirke offers only temporary respite from.

But when they turned on the tap at the critical moments, it flowed freely. Cooper showed glorious touches, Declan O'Sullivan was full of cutting edge and there was a composure about their play when a crisis threatened.

It's taken four games to win a Munster title and they'll relish it. But Croke Park is calling again and they'll arrive there ahead of the pack.

Scorers -- Kerry: C Cooper 1-5 (0-3f), Declan O'Sullivan 0-3, T O Se, M McCarthy, B Sheehan (0-2f) all 0-2 each, M Quirke, D Moran, Darran O'Sullivan all 0-1 each. Limerick: G Collins 0-5 (0-2f), J Galvin 1-2, J Ryan, B Scanlon (0-2f) 0-2 each, S Buckley, J O'Donovan, S Kelly all 0-1 each.

Kerry -- B Kealy 6; M O Se 6, T Griffin 5, T O'Sullivan 4; T O Se 8, M McCarthy 8, K Young 8; S Scanlon 6, A Maher 4; Declan O'Sullivan 8, B Sheehan 6, D Walsh 6; C Cooper 8, K Donaghy 6, Darran O'Sullivan 6. Subs: M Quirke 8 for Maher (33), Padraig Reidy 6 for T O'Sullivan (59), B J Keane 6 for Darran O'Sullivan (59), D Moran 6 for Scanlon (61), K O'Leary 6 for Sheehan (63).

Limerick -- B Scanlon 7; M O'Riordan 6, S Lucey 7, J McCarthy 7; S Lavin 7, A Lane 5, P Ranahan 6; J O'Donovan 7, J Galvin 9; P Browne 4, S Kelly 7, S Buckley 6; G Collins 7, I Ryan 5, J Ryan 7. Subs: J Mullane 5 for Browne (39), S Gallagher 6 for Lane (45), E Joy 5 for Buckley (57), E O'Connor 6 for Kelly (62), S O'Carroll (n/a) for Ryan (70).


Ref -- Pat Fox (Westmeath). 


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