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Kingdom shatter Limerick's dream

IN Killarney yesterday, the talk was of Galvin.

For once, Kerry dynamo Paul wasn't the topic of discussion as Limerick powerhouse John gave an exhibition of midfield play.

Over 12 years he's given to the cause without that elusive Munster senior football championship medal to show for his efforts.

Yesterday was another Groundhog Day for Limerick as Galvin found himself in the lobby of Heartbreak Hotel again.

He's checked in often enough by now to know how this feels.

Galvin's just been presented with the TV man of the match award after a titanic collision with Kerry but even if he'd been handed the keys of a new BMW, the midfielder would have struggled to muster a smile.

Twelve months ago, Galvin had spoken from the heart following a devastating reverse at the hands of Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.


That was another game for the taking, just like the previous year's semi-final against the Rebels, but history continues to slap Limerick's senior footballers in the face.

Two-thousand-and-three, 2004, 2009 and now 2010 have presented glorious opportunities that Limerick have been unable to take.

They looked dead and buried at windy Fitzgerald Stadium yesterday but fought back valiantly to regain the whip hand.

Destiny called them but Kerry don't do sentimentality and a 114-year wait for provincial glory will stretch into a 115th year, and possibly beyond.

Twenty minutes from time, the brilliant Colm Cooper scored his 16th championship goal -- and first since last year's All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin -- to push wind-assisted Kerry 1-14 to 0-10 clear.

Surely, there was no way back for Limerick but when Galvin's in your team, there's always hope.

The Shannonsiders led by 0-10 to 0-7 at half-time but a sensational spell which covered the two minutes before the break and the opening quarter-hour of the second half yielded an unanswered 1-9 from the Kingdom.

Mike McCarthy drove forward incessantly from defence, Cooper caused havoc inside, Declan O'Sullivan kicked picture-book points from distance. All in a day's work for Kerry.

But then, everything changed utterly. Ger Collins kicked a point before Galvin picked Seamus Scanlon's pocket from a short kickout, advanced and blasted past Brendan Kealy for a goal that breathed fresh life into the Limerick challenge.

James Ryan and Collins added points before, fittingly, Galvin hauled his side level at 1-14 apiece with 11 minutes remaining.

It was so close for Limerick, they could almost taste it but Kerry boss Jack O'Connor acted swiftly and substitutions played a key role towards the finish.


Sub Kieran O'Leary supplied Cooper for another lead score for Kerry before two more replacements combined as Barry John Keane set up David Moran for another point.

With Kerry rampant again, Tomás Ó Sé kicked a collector's item off his left foot, a score reeking of irony as the former Footballer of the Year was fortunate that he wasn't soaking in an early bath before half-time.

That Ó Sé wasn't even booked was one of the more staggering statistics after he scythed down Stephen Kelly in the first half, before twice slamming his elbow into the same player.

Perhaps Kerry will feel that Ó Sé's lucky escape is a break they deserved after Paul Galvin was singled out for special TV scrutiny recently.

Former Kerry star Mickey Ned O'Sullivan, a former Kerry captain, cut an animated figure on the touchline throughout.

He reflected: "Kerry had that bit more craft when it mattered.

"The critical period was just after half-time when Micháel Quirke had an influence at midfield."


Quirke certainly made a difference but Kerry struggled throughout in this sector.

They march on nonetheless to the business end of the championship but don't count out Limerick just yet.

There may be another kick in the them.

O'Sullivan roared passionately: "I can promise you that these lads will be back at Croke Park this year."

Galvin slipped away quietly with David Moran's number 19 shirt stuck to his back.

He should have been walking away as a winner.

"We should have been a few more ahead at half-time. We gave away the ball too much," Galvin mused.

"But Kerry are a great team. I'm disappointed, utterly disappointed."

Maybe some day soon, John.