Kerry have been crowned All Ireland Champions for the 38th time after outlasting Galway in an all-time classic final at Croke Park this afternoon.
With The Kingdom bidding to end an eight-year drought and Galway trying to win a first title in 21 years, one county was guaranteed to end the day ecstatic and the other disappointed.
And with a first football final being played in front of a full house at Croke Park since 2019, the atmosphere building up to the game was electric.
The match was no different. Galway started like a house on fire and led by four points to one after just 12 minutes.
Wayward shooting from the Kerry forwards was the tale of the first half. Paul Geaney was the main culprit, kicking two poor wides that a man of his quality should never be missing.
Yet despite Galway bossing the first half, they led by just the minimum at the break.
In an explosive second half, it was Kerry who made the better start of the two.
And so ensued one of the most breathtaking individual battles I daresay Croke Park has ever seen. Shane Walsh for Galway and David Clifford for Kerry put on an exhibition, scoring from seemingly impossible angles and doing so with minimum fuss.
It almost turned into a battle of one-upmanship as the game went on. Clifford claimed a couple of breathtaking marks to set up easy frees, while Walsh made the unthinkable look routine, frequently kicking difficult scores off either foot.
But arguably it was the Kerry substitutes that made the difference. The Spillane brothers came on at halftime and brought serious energy to the Kerry team, with Killian in particular excelling and scoring three points from play.
While the game was tight heading down the stretch, Kerry managed to find another gear in the final ten minutes. The Kingdom reeled off four unanswered scores and put Galway to the sword.
Conor Gleeson’s late concession of a free-kick killed the game. And how fitting was it that Seanie O’Shea, who had the last say in the semi-final against Dublin two weeks ago, tapped over the insurance score to give Kerry the victory by 0-20 to 0-16.
Kerry: David Clifford (0-8, 0-3,f, 0-2m), Seán O’Shea (0-3, 0-3f), Paudie Clifford (0-2), Killian Spillane (0-2), Graham O’Sullivan (0-1), Gavin White (0-1), Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1), Stephen O’Brien (0-1), Paul Geaney (0-1, 0-1m).
- Shane Ryan 2. Graham O’Sullivan 3. Jason Foley 4. Tom O’Sullivan 5. Brian Ó Beaglaíoch 6. Tadhg Morley 7. Gavin White 8. David Moran 9. Jack Barry 10. Diarmuid O’Connor 11. Seán O’Shea 12. Stephen O’Brien 13. Paudie Clifford 14. David Clifford 15. Paul Geaney
Subs: Adrian Spillane for David Moran (ht), Killian Spillane for Paul Geaney (ht), Jack Savage for Paudie Clifford (temp – 44-47), Micheál Burns for Stephen O’Brien (57), Paul Murphy for Brian Ó Beaglaíoch (64), Joe O’Connor for Paudie Clifford (74)