A Strange All-Ireland Final Sunday and the Ref from Laois

While the county basks in the glow of yet another great GAA harvest it is no harm to remember that this was the year the experts told us that our time had not yet come.
Sunday was a bitter-sweet day for my siblings and myself as we had laid our mother to rest in Kilbanivane by ten past one that afternoon.
She would have well understood and encouraged us to become engrossed in what the afternoon held for our county’s footballers and we did.
And what a wonderful afternoon it turned out to be. Even if we got the odd fright along the way and at the very end itself. The one theme that ran through the game was the level of criticism of the referee’s one-sided ‘distribution’ of frees. I listened to a barrage of verbal abuse hurled at the TV screen in Kearney’s Bar as the ref continuously pointed in the direction of the Kerry post as an endless stream of seemingly questionable frees were awarded to Donegal. I’m sure that one of the commentators passed a remark on it at one stage and a newspaper columnist scored it at 10 to one at some stage of the game.
It was easy to laugh in the aftermath of the great Kerry win and I did so when a man asked me, quite earnestly: “Do you think a man from Laois should be left ref an All-Ireland final like that ? I’m not sure what kind of implication was buried in the question and I didn’t get time to ask as he took me to task for laughing and acting like a traitor.
I had a trawl through some of the commentary on the game and have taken excerpts and provided links to follow.
It was a fantastic achievement by our squads and their management teams led by Jack O’Connor and Eamonn Fitzmaurice.

You won’t hear him bragging about the part he played in the Kerry win but the delight on Ger Keane’s face may go some way to revealing the amount of work he put into our great warriors in the crucial few weeks in the run-up to Sunday’s pinnacle.
My thanks to Don MacMonagle for the collection of great photographs. e: info@macmonagle.com

Irish Examiner  By John Fogarty GAA Correspondent

All-Ireland SFC Final    Kerry 2-9 Donegal 0-12
It may have looked sour but for Kerry this was sweet.
Possibly the sweetest ever. It may have been their 37th time doing it and yet this was like none before, sealed by a performance and a winning scoreline so unKerry-like.
Go back to pre-Munster final and how James O’Donoghue, the Footballer of the Year in waiting, was deep in reflection about how much the Kerry public were running down their own players. “You’re kind of questioning are you a true Kerry player and do you deserve to be wearing that shirt?” he shrugged, recalling that period.
But nobody, at the outset of this summer, had seen this coming. As well as it might be Kerry that again finish top of the pile, it’s refreshing that football can continue to surprise and marvel.
That being said, the 82,124 crowd that watched on yesterday will agree the game itself hardly took anyone’s breath away. It was dour and it was a dirge, effectively decided by an eagle-eyed renaissance man pouncing on a rare mistake by the best goalkeeper in the country this season.
However, the result did confirm one thing — nobody adapts better than Kerry. Key to their survival against Mayo and ultimate success had been their ability to change. Look at their back-line yesterday and the comfort each of them finds in filling any one of the six positions.
Where Donegal were rigid, Kerry were flexible and had shown as much throughout the summer.
See more at:  http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/gaa/football/sweetest-ever-for-kerry-kids-288093.htm
Kerry’s final resolve holds as errors undo Donegal      Kerry 2-9 Donegal 0-12 All-Ireland SFC final
Martin Breheny,     Irish Independent

Kerry have won better All-Ireland finals at the end of superior campaigns than Championship 2014 but, for pure satisfaction and vindication, yesterday’s success takes some beating.
Their 37th All-Ireland triumph arrived in a season which started with what looked like a calamitous setback when Colm Cooper was ruled out for the year and when their Allianz League campaign lurched unsteadily before ending with a thumping defeat by Cork.
And while early-season travails haven’t been known to destabilise Kerry down through the years, there was a distinct feeling last April that this season would be more of a work-in-progress than the finished article.
In a sense, that’s still the case but, to their delight, they discovered that not only could they prosper without The Gooch, they were also good enough to outwit all-comers.
That included Donegal, who were hoisted into the favourites’ stall after chopping down defending champions, Dublin with ruthless force in the semi-final. They hit Dublin for 3-14, but came up 11 points short of that total yesterday.
It left Kerry’s 2-9 as more than enough to see them safely home in what was the lowest-scoring All-Ireland final since 2003 when Tyrone outpointed Armagh by 0-12 to 0-9.
It was the first time since 1996 that 11 scores were enough to win the All-Ireland final, another telling indicator of how much on top defences were. It coalesced into producing a contest which certainly won’t be lodging an application for inclusion in the catalogue of classics.
All of which is utterly irrelevant to Kerry, who worked their way calmly and resolutely through a Donegal challenge that was uncharacteristically sloppy at times.
See more at: http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/kerrys-final-resolve-holds-as-errors-undo-donegal-30604491.html#sthash.ahgthQYP.dpuf


Kerry 2-09 Donegal 0-12       RTÉ Sport
Kerry won their 37th All-Ireland Senior Football Championship crown with a hard-earned 2-09 to 0-12 win over Donegal at Croke Park.
This was a Sam Maguire Cup decider that called for hard graft and pure passion, the men from the Kingdom forced to sacrifice their famous flair and style in favour of a more primal approach to a desperate necessity to succeed.
Paul Geaney netted in the opening minute but Donegal dragged themselves back with three Michael Murphy frees to draw level at 0-06 to 1-03 by half-time.
Kieran Donaghy’s 52nd-minute goal pushed Kerry four clear, and with defences dominating, the Ulster men fell short, despite a late exchange of scores from Christy Toye and Bryan Sheehan and a frantic last-minute scramble in the Kerry goalmouth, which resulted in Colm McFadden hitting a post.
Amazingly, Kerry are once again All-Ireland winners despite the fact that ace attacker James O’Donoghue failed to score, after a summer in which he emerged as a more than adequate replacement for the injured Colm Cooper.

See more at: http://www.rte.ie/sport/gaa/football/2014/0921/645281-kerry-v-donegal/