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GAA: Donegal Crush Dublin As Kerry Edge Thriller Against Mayo

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All-Ireland Senior Football Semi-Final

Donegal 3-14 Dublin 0-17

This was an interesting tactical battle as the 2012 Champions Donegal crushed Dublin in this All-Ireland Semi-Final. Ryan McHugh was the crucial individual who finished with two brilliantly taken opportunistic goals and also Colm McFadden added the third goal to put the game beyond the reigning All-Ireland Champions.

Dublin started the game brightly and established an early lead with long range points from Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn, both influential figures in this part of the first half. Dublin were not going to be able to keep scoring long range points no matter how good they are made out to be, this was more evident as the game progressed. Dublin raced into a five point lead at one stage and it seemed a tall order for Donegal to come back, but they did as the game dragged on. Donegal never panicked and this coupled with good scores from McHugh and Michael Murphy kept them within touching distance. Dublin failed to deal with a high ball in that resulted in McHugh finishing his low shot to the Dublin net. Dublin were very comfortable up until McHugh struck and there confidence was rattled as Donegal began to impose themselves on the game.

The second half was a quite interesting affair and exposed the reigning champions as a normal team, one that has impressed and improved dramatically in recent years but that can be beaten. Dublin pressed for a response but it completely backfired as they were really exposed in defence as McHugh fisted the ball to the far corner of the net for his second of the game. Dublin seemed very exposed in defence for various patches of the second half and Donegal could have scored more goals. Colm McFadden added Donegal’s third goal as he exposed the Dublin backline to round Stephen Cluxton and put Donegal closer to a final date with Kerry. Dublin to their credit had a mammoth task on their hand as time was against them and failed to get the required scores as Donegal’s defensive held firm and it wasn’t going to be breached. Dublin had squandered some easy frees in front of goal which would come back to haunt them as the team many earmarked for further success waved goodbye to Sam Maguire for at least a year.

Kerry 3-16 Mayo 3-13

This replayed game of last weekend was going to be an interesting affair to see who had made the most improvement in the short space of time. This game was very hard to describe in words, but it was a very fierce battle between these two teams, neither of the sides deserved to lose for the effort they put in. Kerry had to go to extra time to emerge as winners after a fierce battle with the Connacht Champions.

Mayo seemed to blitz the kingdom in the opening minutes of the game as they cruised into a seven point lead courtesy of two goals from Cillian O’Connor, one from a penalty when Shane Enright brought down the Mayo forward in the box. Kerry seemed rocked by conceding these early goals but never let this get to them. Kerry responded well when James O’Donoghue’s initial shot was blocked but Kieran Donaghy was on hand to stick it into the net to get Kerry back into the game. Mayo still led at half time, but this game was still an open contest between these teams.

The second half saw a much more improved Kerry performance as James O’Donoghue finished the ball to the net when he converted a penalty for the Kingdom to reclaim the lead. It didn’t last long however as Kerry’s goalkeeper Brian Kelly failed to punch the ball clear and Andy Moran was on hand to capitalise on this mistake in the Kerry defence as he struck the ball into the net.  The lead for both sides was changing regularly as neither side could establish their dominance. Kerry were awarded two penalties in the second half which James O’Donoghue finished to the net. Mayo responded once more when a late point from Donal Vaughn sent the game into extra time.

Extra time offered renewed hope to both sides as Mayo added two early points from O’Connor and Kevin McLoughlin to give them the opening lead. Kerry came back at them and points from Barry John Keane levelled matters again for the first half in extra time. The second period of extra time saw Kerry pull away with three scores from Kieran O’Leary, Paul Geaney and Jonathan Lyne to give them a three point lead that they never relinquished. Mayo pressed for an equaliser but if feel short as Kerry held on to advance to the All-Ireland Football Final on September 21st.

After another year of heartbreak Mayo must now go back to the drawing board to analyse where it all went wrong and they must do so without James Horan who left his post as manager following the game.

Image courtesy of GAA.ie

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