Allianz Football League Division One Round 2: Kerry 1-15 Galway 2-11
Killian Spillane is fast gaining a reputation for mining crucial scores at crucial times in a Kerry jersey, and his latest contribution saw him kick the winning point as Kerry staged a come-from-behind win that Kerry scarcely deserved, and inflict a defeat on Galway that they hardly deserved.
Neither team could have had any complaints had they gone home with a point apiece, but Peter Keane was hardly apologetic for his team securing their first win of the campaign, as much as Padraic Joyce was openly annoyed at his team missing out on their second victory.
Spillane's 74th minute score would have been pointless were it preceded by Paul Geaney's 71st minute goal, which drew Kerry level, 1-14 to 2-11, after Shane Walsh's 58th minute goal looked as if it might have scuppered Kerry's chances of victory, having let a two-point half-time lead evaporate.
When half-time substitute Tommy Walsh kicked Kerry into a 0-12 to 1-7 lead in the 45th minute, few in the 11,117 crowd in Austin Stack Park could have envisaged it would be another 26 minutes before the home side scored again from play, but apart from two converted David Clifford frees, Kerry drew a blank until Stephen O'Brien set up his team mate for a quintessential Geaney goal from close range. At that stage Galway wing-back Cillian McDaid was still in the sin-bin - sent there in the 64th minute for pulling down Dara Moynihan - but just when it looked as if Galway had held Kerry scorless for that 10-minute period Geaney struck for Kerry's only goal.
With no break in the play to get McDaid back on the field as his 10 minutes elapsed Kerry went hunting the lead point, and when Clifford's shot came back off the left-hand post, Walsh reacted quickest to tee up Spillane for the game's 29th and final score.
The late withdrawal of Tadhg Morley and Seán O'Shea from the named Kerry starting deprived the hosts of something crucial in defence and attack, and O'Shea's absence in particular robbed the home side of a dynamic presence along the 'forty'. Nonetheless, his replacement at no.11, Micheal Burns did a fine job in his stead and was one of Kerry's best performers, finishing with two points from play.
It's a bit of a cliché to say Kerry and Galway always play some sort of 'total football' whenever they meet, and anyone witness to the Tribesmen under Joyce's predecessor, Kevin Walsh, would be only too aware how dreadful Galway were to watch - and play against - under Walsh. Joyce, it seems, even at this very early stage of his management term, seems intent on getting his native county back to some sort of traditional Galway way, and in Shane Walsh, Damien Comer and Michael Daly they have great super ball playing forwards. Walsh, in particular, tormented the Kerry defence throughout this game, and with a little more composure from their attack, they might have been out of site well before Geaney and Spillane's late scores.
Clifford opened the scoring after just 18 seconds, and when he clipped over a 20-metre free seven minutes later Kerry were 0-4 to 0-1 to the good, with Galway's point from Comer, whose shot rose just over the bar.
Eamonn Brannigan cut the gap to two points in the 11th minute but Kerry extended their lead with excellent scores from Geaney (2) and Clifford to lead to 0-7 to 0-3.
Galway carried a strong scoring threat through that first half, though some poor execution - and a couple of really smart saves from Shane Ryan - saw them squander four very decent goal chances in the opening 36 minute.
Corner back Johnny Heaney did find the net in the 18th minute, but Galway trailed 0-10 to 1-5 at the interval, when they were somewhat the better side in that first period.
It was Kerry's turn to waste a couple of goal chances after the break, Burns denied by Connor Gleeson at his near post, and then Tommy had a great goal chance saved, with his namesake Shane scoring a brilliant solo goal mere seconds later at the othe end. That goal put Galway two ahead after 58 minutes, and when the Galway captain pointed his team into a three-point lead on the hour mark, it looked like they might hold on for the win.
Kerry had other ideas. McDaid went to the sin-bin, which freed up a bit of space for Geaney to snatch that equalising goal, and then Spillane spirited in to raise a white flag. One last chance fell to Comer at the Mitchels end but his shot reeked of panic and drifted wide; Kerry breathed a huge sigh of relief.
Kerry: Shane Ryan, Jason Foley, Gavin Crowley, Graham O'Sullivan, Paul Murphy, Shane Enright, Gavin White, Liam Kearney, Jack Barry, Gavin O'Brien, Micheal Burns 0-2, Stephen O'Brien 0-1, James O'Donoghue 0-2, David Clifford 0-6 (3f), Paul Geaney 1-2 (0-1f). Subs: Diarmuid O'Connor for G O'Brien (32), Tommy Walsh 0-1 for J O'Donoghue (ht), Dara Moynihan for M Burns (55), Killian Spillane 0-1 for L Kearney (61)
Galway: Connor Gleeson, Johnny Duane, Sean Mulkerrin, Johnny Heaney 1-0, Gary O'Donnell, John Daly, Cillian McDaid 0-1, Ronan Steede, Cein D'Arcy, Eamonn Brannigan 0-3, Damien Comer 0-2 (1m), Finnian Ó Laoi, Robert Finnerty, Shane Walsh 1-4 (0-2f), Michael Daly 0-1. Subs: Sean Kelly for J Duane (22), Matthew for R Finnerty (ht), Tom Flynn for R Steede (42), Liam Costello for Finian Ó Laoí (48), Adrian Varley for M Daly (52)
Referee: Anthony Nolan (Wicklow)