Dublin and Tribesmen provide shocks
Dublin 1-13 Donegal 0-9
Despite having their star performer Con O'Callaghan blacked-carded after just four minutes, Dublin comfortably overcame the challenge of Donegal to secure a place in the All-Ireland U21 final in front of 2,422 fans at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Perhaps Donegal's gruelling schedule finally caught up with them; the Ulster final was only played last Monday night while five of the team featured regularly for Donegal in the recent Allianz League.
There was a sense of irony in the fact that Donegal fell victim to a game plan which was originally road-tested by Jim McGuinness when the two counties clashed in the 2010 All-Ireland U-21 final.
Ultimately, Dublin's 13-man massed defence was far more effective than Donegal's version while there was much more purpose and method to the Dubs' counter-attacks, which repeatedly found gaps to exploit.
Apart from a brief spell early in the second half, Donegal looked lethargic. It was scarcely credible that a team which had hit 3-17 in each of their previous two games only managed six points in normal time.
With Dublin centre forward Aaron Byrne a constant thorn in the Donegal rearguard, Dessie Farrell's charges led 0-5 to 0-1 with five minutes left in the first half. And though Donegal narrowed the gap to a point early in the second half, that was as good as it got for Declan Bonner's side.
Dublin were already on their way to the final when centre back Sean McMahon hit a smashing goal eight minutes from the end after Darragh Spillane - son of former Kerry star Mick Spillane - and Cian Murphy created the chance.
One wonders at times do team managers at this level take themselves too seriously or are they merely trying to confuse everyone.
There were four changes in personnel on the Donegal team - but only three players lined out in the positions they were named in, while two players featured who weren't mentioned in the official programme.
Nine of the Dublin team lined out in the positions they were listed in. They made two pre-match changes in personnel but only one of them was announced; and one of their substitutes, who was introduced and subsequently black-carded in the final minute, was incorrectly named in the programme.
Scorers - Dublin: A Byrne 0-4 (2f); S McMahon 1-0; C Murphy, G O'Reilly, C Sallier 0-2 each; C O'Callaghan (f), D Byrne, A McGowan 0-1 each; Donegal: M Langan 0-4 (2f); N O'Donnell 0-2; S McBrearty, M Carroll, E O'Donnell 0-1 each.
Dublin: E Comerford; D Byrne, C O'Shea, E Murchan; C O'Callaghan, S McMahon, C Murphy; A Foley, B Howard; T Fox, A Byrne, G O'Reilly; D Gavin, C Basquel, D O'Brien. Subs: C Sallier for O'Callaghan (BC, 5); A Elliott for Foley (22), D Spillane for Fox (38); A McGowan for O'Reilly (48); T O'Sullivan for Sallier (57); S Clayton for Basquel (61).
Donegal: D Rodgers; B Cole, S McMenamin, C Morrison; D O Baoill, C Mulligan, E Gallagher; J McGee, T McClenaghan; S McBrearty, M Coyle, M Carroll; J Brennan, L Connor, M Langan. Subs: C Doherty for Coyle (16); N O'Donnell for McBrearty (24); E O'Donnell for Connor (38); R Carr for Mulligan (43); C McGonigle for McClenaghan (52) S McBrearty for O Baoill (56).
Referee: J Bermingham (Cork)
Galway 2-14 Kerry 2-10
Midfielder Peter Cooke led the way as Galway outclassed Kerry to book a final date with Dublin. The Tribsmen built on a superb start to dispatch the red-hot favourites and while Kerry rallied in the second-half, they were unable to deny an impressive Galway team.
Galway hit the net after just 20 seconds through Dessie Conneely and led by 1-7 to 0-1 after ten minutes as they sliced the Kerry defence with some excellent flowing football.
Cooke dominated midfield and Michael Daly led an attack which moved at pace. Indeed, Galway would have been out of sight had they not fluffed three good goal chances.
Killian Spillane got Kerry’s first point from play eight minutes from half-time and goalkeeper Shane Ryan went forward to convert a free from 45 metres to leave it 1-9 to 0-4 at the break.
Kerry made a superb start to the second-half when Matthew O’Sullivan forced home a goal.
But Galway responded with a point from Cooke and it was the Tribes’ midfielder who again hit back after Matthew Flaherty hit a couple of points.
Goalkeeper Ryan went forward to shoot his second point and Spillane, son of Kerry star Tom, also pointed to cut the gap to three.
But Sean Kelly hit back for Galway and then midfielder Barry O’Sullivan picked up a second yellow and Kerry had to play the final 12 minutes with 14 men.
Galway killed the game with three points in rapid succession and then sub Colin Brady sealed it with a goal, although Jordan Kiely got a consolation goal for Kerry.
Scorers — Galway: P Cooke 0-5 (3f); C Brady, D Conneely 1-0 each; S Kelly, M Daly 0-2 each; K Molloy, C McDaid, C D’Arcy, R Finnerty, P Mannion 0-1 each. Kerry: K Spillane 0-4 (3f); M O’Sullivan, J Kiely 1-0 each; S Ryan (2f), M Flaherty 0-2 each; C Geaney (f), S O’Shea (f) 0-1 each.
Galway: R O Beolain; L Kelly, S O Ceallaigh, R Greene; K Molloy, D McHugh, C McDaid; P Cooke, C D’Arcy; S Kelly, M Daly, P Mannion; R Finnerty, E Finnerty, D Conneely. Subs: C Brady for Mannion (41), M Boyle for R Finnerty (54), C Brennan for D’Arcy (56), E Lee for McDaid (60).
Kerry: S Ryan; TL O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; B O Beaglaoich, B O Seanachain, G White; A Barry, B O’Sullivan; B Barrett, S O’Shea, M Flaherty; K Spillane, M O’Sullivan, C Geaney. Subs: M Burns for Barrett (29), R O Se for O Seanachain (41), J Kiely for S O’Shea (45), J Morgan for White (55), D O’Brien for O Beaglaoich (60).
Referee: B Cawley (Kildare).
Sunday Indo Sport