This victory was a reminder of Kerry’s golden era. The supporters not seeing fit to swell a modest attendance of 35,000 and waiting at home for the big exodus at the end of the month. A perfunctory success against opponents who were willing but not able enough. In fact, even if Kerry’s progress this summer has been unspectacular, there were still signs that Jack O’Connor’s team is beginning to move with genuine conviction.
So if a safe passage to the decider against Mayo was greeted with some enthusiasm by the Kerry management, there was the unwelcome news that Dara O Se has a broken bone in his foot and will miss the final, while the fitness of Seamus Moynihan remains in doubt. Moynihan hasn’t seen any action since mid-June, is back in light training. O Se lasted only 20 minutes on Sunday before being replaced by Mike Frank Russell.
“The injury’s serious enough; he wouldn’t have come off if it wasn’t,” O’Connor said of O Se before the extent of his injury was known on Tuesday morning. “It’s a consolation that the final is four weeks away, but you can’t be losing players like Darragh O Se, he’s a one off.”
Derry had a good spell during the first half when the impressive Enda Muldoon wriggled through the defense to finish superbly for a goal and when three unanswered points flew over the bar, but for much of the game, Kerry were in complete control.
Typically, in the immediate aftermath of Derry’s one and only meaningful scoring spree, they replied with four points in a row to lead by 0-8 to 1-4 at the changeover. Colm Cooper, who finished with six points, including three from frees, was back to his creative best, while Mike Frank Russell, who replace O Se, staked a claim for a starting place in the final with an eye-catching performance.
“In contrast to us, Kerry showed how clinical they can be when they build up a head of steam,” Derry manager Mickey Moran said. “They punished us very heavily by scoring 10 points on the trot, four before halftime and another six in the second half. The game was really slipping away from us at that stage.”
Once Kerry recovered from the loss of O Se, and with Tom O’Sullivan and Michael McCarthy beginning to get the better of Paddy Bradley and Muldoon, they simply cut through the Derry defense. Tomas O Se, Eoin Brosnan and Paul Galvin charged forward with conviction. Long before Declan O’Sullivan’s goal four minutes from the end, Derry knew their fate.
“In the first 10 to 15 minutes after halftime, we picked up a huge amount of breaking ball and the quality of the deliveries into the full forward line was really first class,” Kerry captain Dara O Cinneide said. “But Derry missed a lot of good scoring chances, so we have plenty to work on before the final.”