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O'Donoghue stars as Kerry ease into semi

AS a microcosm of where Kerry were so much better than Galway in Croke Park yesterday, the first 15 minutes of their 1-20 to 2-10 win works pretty well.

Contained within that space of time were 12 scoring chances, six for either team. Kerry scored 1-5. Galway kicked six wides.

"We mixed the good with the bad," reflected Éamonn Fitzmaurice, though there was plenty more of the former than the latter in their afternoon cocktail.

"There was some good attacking football. Other times, we weren't quite as accurate as we would have liked. But it is, it's good shooting. But there are other aspects of our performance that we have to work on alright for three weeks time."

To be fair about it, few (any?) teams can match Kerry's economy of movement, their creativity and the way they maximise each excursion in the 'scoring zone.'

And in James O'Donoghue - the shiniest totem of the Kingdom attack - they have the most efficient inside forward in the game just now.

He kicked 1-5 from play yesterday and the only blemish on an otherwise pristine display was a missed goal chance in the second half after a slick break and lay-off from Paul Geaney.

target

Having opened the angle for himself in the 53rd minute, O'Donoghue contrived to curl the ball high and right from his target in the top corner of Thomas Healy's net.

Even his wides are stylish.

"They've got very good movement so you're trying to stop the ball getting into him in the first place and you're trying to double team him when he's in there," explained Galway manager Alan Mulholland afterwards.

"He's an exceptional footballer, he's got great pace and great control. I wouldn't say he's unmarkable. We have a good full-back line, probably the best we've had in a while, and we struggled today so I'll leave it to somebody else to try and figure that one out."

Yet he was far from Galway's only problem.

Paul Geaney (0-4 1f) revelled in the space vacated by O'Donoghue's pursuers.

And it was the 34th minute before Kerry kicked their first wide.

Really, only the oxygen granted by brilliant goals in either half from Tom Flynn and the irrepressible Michael Lundy stopped Galway from suffocating earlier and Kerry's dominance was tested only briefly.

mastered

Éamonn Fitzmaurice has long mastered that great Kerry art of talking down his team's performance and asked whether he felt his team were a more complete outfit than the one that beat Cavan in a turgid All-Ireland quarter-final before playing their part in a sparkler of a semi against Dublin, he immediately sought to attach perspective.

"We probably are," he began. "But I suppose, at the end of the day, we're in the same position. We're into an All-Ireland semi-final, having won a Munster Championship.

"We probably didn't hit the heights today but I was delighted with the lads attitude and the way they dug in when there were certain parts of the game when we were under pressure."


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