Liam, Maria and Mayo were the winners

Liam O’Connor and 2014 Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh entertain the crowd at Austin Stack Park

WHAT is it about Kerry and the rain? Few will forget the devastating loss to the Dubs in a torrential Croke Park downpour in 2015 and last year drenched Kerry supporters were certainly not singing in the rain when Galway shocked Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s side in the Super 8s at headquarters. In Tralee last night, the heavens opened, the rain came down in buckets, the shirts were stuck to the players’ backs and, yet again, the result did not go Kerry’s way. Coincidence? Hmm, we wonder.

MEMO to Kerry goalkeepers – judging the collective groans and gasps and grunts from the stand and the terraces at Austin Stack Park, the supporters would much prefer if the man in the number one jersey stuck to the task he is selected for and let his 14 team-mates take the game to the opposition. Brian Kelly’s darts off his line did not go down well, served little purpose and could have ended rather disastrously if Aidan O’Shea had been more alert when the Kingdom were caught in possession with Kelly closer to the 45 than the goalposts.

JAMES Horan – like Peter Keane and Donie Buckley – appears to be adopting a defence first strategy if last night’s rain-lashed encounter is to be used as a barometer. Mayo built a wall on the 45-meter line that Donald Trump would have been proud of and Kerry found it difficult – sometimes next to near impossible – to breach it. Mayo were tough tackling, hard hitting and swarming like bees on a honeypot inside their half of the field, making it very difficult for running players like Stephen O’Brien and Dara Moynihan to make their mark.

Face in the crowd: Kerry selector Maurice Fitzgerald watching the game from the stand

YOU’VE got to hand it to the GAA in Kerry – they certainly know how to throw a party. A queue began forming outside the gates of the stadium three and a half hours before throw-in but the fans didn’t feel the time passing thanks to the musical genius of Liam O’Connor, accompanied by his daughter Saoirse, son Óisin and singer-songwriter Ben Quinlan. The biggest cheer of the day was reserved for 2014 Rose of Tralee and Mayo lass Maria Walsh – in a half Kerry, half Mayo jersey – who danced a jig with steward Joe Wallace on the field.

WHAT criteria, one wonders, does the GAA in Kerry use to describe what is and what is not a sell-out. The officials attendance at yesterday’s big clash was 10,218 yet the crowd was reminded, in a half-time appeal for funds to help develop Austin Stack Park, that the stadium can currently hold 12,500. Tickets were nowhere to be found all week, the match was officially declared a complete sell-out and many fans – who travelled as far away as Cavan and Galway this season – were left disappointed. Anyone need an abacus?

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