Monday 19 August 2019

Kingdom fight back to see off Tyrone - and fans vow they can derail Dubs in historic drive for five

Kerry fans celebrate in the stands
Kerry fans celebrate in the stands
Tyrone fan Lily Donnelly (2) from Beragh, Co Tyrone
A dejected Tyrone fan in the stands after the game
Kerry fan Bébhinn O'Donovan celebrates

Laura Lynott at Croke Park

If Dublin thought the All-Ireland was going to be just handed to them, the mighty Kingdom showed just what it is to come back from the jaws of defeat as they tore down Tyrone in the semi-final.

It seemed the fight had gone out of Kerry as the Red Hand County bested their opponents for the majority of the match at Croke Park.

And with only 33,848 fans in attendance and great swathes of seating areas empty, there was a lacklustre atmosphere throughout until Kerry finally fought back in the second half.

Fifty-five minutes in and the two rivals were level at 0-12 each.

Suddenly the atmosphere was ignited with the air filled with chanting: "Kerry, Kerry, Kerry."

A young woman wearing a yellow and green jersey was lifted into the air.

At last it seemed the Kingdom had arrived to mount a real tilt at the All-Ireland crown.

And that final whistle - accompanied by the 1-18 score to Kerry and 0-18 to Tyrone - rang out like a battle cry to Dublin.

Kerry fan Sean O'Donnell brought daughter Robin (3) to the game, while friend Bartley O'Connor brought his daughter Meera (4).

The two friends, who live in Rathmines, Dublin, grew up together in Co Kerry and they were delighted with the result.

They said they were keen to carry on the tradition of "GAA, Kerry and friendship" with their two young girls, proudly dressed in yellow and green.

"It's been a great day. This is the first time the girls have been to Croke Park together, so it's a milestone day as well for us," Mr O'Donnell said.

"Bartley and I have been friends for life and I really think the ties of GAA and Kerry were really important to that friendship, so we're hoping for the same for the girls.

"We faced the old enemy today in Tyrone and I still believe Kerry have a chance of the All Ireland.

"You have to have hope that Dublin are beatable and if anyone can take Dublin on now, it's Kerry."

There were county divides visible among one couple attending the game but this sporting rivalry only seemed to add to the occasion.

Jill McElrath (32), from Fintona, Co Tyrone, wore her county colours while partner Padraig Ruddle (34), originally from Asdee, pulled on his Kerry shirt for the day.

The couple, who met via work in Fermanagh, may be passionate about the sport but there was no risk of it interfering with their relationship, they vowed.

"I had wanted to decide if we will buy a house in Tyrone after today," Ms McElrath said. But given the final score, that might be less unlikely now.

Mr Ruddle was convinced he would be on the winning side at home "as Kerry are just the better team".

Kerry will now face Dublin in the All-Ireland final with a seemingly unstoppable Dublin chasing a historic fifth-in-a-row title.

It will be the third time in a decade that the two sides will meet in a final and there is everything to play for.

And as for the All Ireland, Mr Ruddle still felt Kerry have a chance.

"Dublin are the team to beat," he said.

"And everyone thinks they are unbeatable, but they aren't," he added.

Irish Independent

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