Kerry come of age with tense win over Galway

Kerry come of age with tense win over Galway

Kerry 2-10 Galway 0-13

Kerry displaying maturity beyond their years and had to fight a rearguard battle in the second half after appearing to have built up a big enough first half lead before emerging winners against a fancied Galway in this Suzuki Ladies National Football League semi final played at a wind lashed Cooraclare on Sunday. It was fitting that the last person to touch the ball, before referee Derek Byrne sounded the final whistle was Kerry keeper Laoise O’Driscoll, as it was her stunning save ten minutes into the second half, when she somehow turned a point blank effort from Una Carroll over the top, that was the difference between victory and defeat. Kerry with a lot of young talent being blooded in the League by Robbie Griffin will be delighted to have progressed to a NFL final and a meeting with Cork, considering that the championship game with Waterford follows a week later, is just what the doctor ordered for Kerry.

This was a victory for heart and a never say die spirit as Galway threw everything at Kerry in that second half, but some outstanding grafting and team work saw the Kerry girls hold out when a few years ago, they would have buckled under the Galway onslaught.Kerry now have something they lacked for a number of years and that is a strong spine which is vital in any top side that hopes to be competitive and this has raised the Kerry bar to new levels but they are not the finished article yet.
That spine of keeper Laoise O’Driscoll, Grainne Ni Fhlatharta at full back, Caroline Kelly at centre back, Mags O’Donoghue at midfield, Patrice Dennehy on the forty and captain fantastic Geraldine O’Shea in the full forward line, ensures that Kerry are now emerging as a force again.
This was a game of two halves – literally as there was a howling gale blowing down the pitch and Kerry had it to their backs in the opening half and really made hay ( metaphorically) as they pummeled Galway and had built up a massive half time lead of thirteen but it was almost not enough.

Kerry began with Mags O’Donoghue and Bernie Breen winning good ball at midfield and the Kerry attack prospered as points from Patrice Dennehy ,Geraldine O’Shea with two saw the Kingdom jump 0-3 to 0-0 in front by the 7th minute.
Then came the break Kerry needed and it came from the marauding Cork lady playing for Kerry as Ciara O’Sullivan burst through on the right at pace in the 9th minute and her shot took a wicked deflection and looped beyond the keeper and into the Galway net.
Kerry were now on fire as Louise Ni Mhuirtceartaigh belied her tender years with incisive running but she was coming in for heavy treatment but the good thing was she refused to be bullied.
Points followed from O’Shea and Debra Murphy as Galway could only manage a sporadic raid’s and these came from Geraldine Conneally. She then hit the Kerry post in the 14th minute and former All-Star goalkeeper Una Carroll opened Galway’s account.
However Kerry with Caroline Kelly and O’Donoghue driving them on went on a scoring spree and a four unanswered points from Ger O’Shea ( 2) Mags O’Donoghue from a 45 meter free and Ciara O’Sullivan had Kerry 1-9 to 0-1 clear by the 20th minute.Then a couple of bad fouls on Ni Mhuirtceartaigh saw Rebecca McPhilbin of Galway and her team mate Anne Marie McDonagh go to the sin bin.For the foul by Galway’s McDonagh resulting in a penalty beeen awarded in the 25th minute, was another boost for Kerry and Patrice Dennehy slotted the ball to the net.Kerry tried to press home their advantage. Kerry finishing this half against 13 players should have seen them go rampant, instead it seemed to upset Kerry’s rhythm.

Kerry kicked six wides in the half but the powerful Annette Clarke got a second Galway point and Kerry retired 2-9 to 0-2 in front and surely it was enough!
Well it was only just about enough as Galway assumed complete control and Kerry had to play some heroic defense with Grainne Ni Fhlatharta a colossus at full back and Caroline Kelly, Katie Gleeson, Cassandra Buckley, and Sinead O’Sullivan were heroic in putting their bodies on the line.Kerry should have scored in the first five minutes but Galway took over and they kicked seven points in an explosive six minute spell from the 6th to the 13th minutes, with Carroll and Clarke doing maximum damage but O’Driscoll’s wonder save prevented Galway getting closer.
Kerry then missed a close in free as Kerry led 2-9 to 0-9 at the end the third quarter. It was now nerve wracking stuff as Galway lost a third player to the sin bin.Sarah Jane Joy and Aine O’Sullivan came on as Kerry defended like their lives depended on it and points from Niamh Fahy and Carroll cut the gap to four with eight minutes left.Ni Fhlatharta was like a hoover at the back mopping up loose ball and Kerry got their solitary seconf half point from Ciara O’Sullivan in the 55th minute but late Galway points from McDonagh and Clarke that clipped the top of the bar, cut the deficit to a single goal. Then just when it looked all over, Galway had one last attack and Niamh Fahy’s low shot went through the grasp of the brilliant O’Driscoll but as two counties held their collective breaths, she turned and pounced on the ball- on the line and the referee blew time.
Phew it was that close but delight for Kerry for a hard earned win where dogged determination won the day and a crack at Cork. An excellent game and well officated by Derek Byrne of Limerick who let this game flow..

Scorers Kerry:
Ciara O’Sullivan 1-2 ( 0-1 free), Geraldine O’Shea 0-4 ( 0-2 frees), Patrice Dennehy 1-1 ( 1-0 pen), Mags O’Donoghue 0-1 free, Louise Ni Mhuirtceartaigh and Debra Murphy 0-1 each.

Scorers Galway:
U Carroll 0-6 ( 0-3 frees), A Clarke 0-3, C Cormicon 0-2, N Fahy and A M McDonagh 0-1 each.

Kerry Team:
Laoise O’Driscoll, Maura O’Connor, Grainne Ni Fhlatharta, Mairead Finnegan, Cassandra Buckley, Caroline Kelly, Katie Gleeson, Mags O’Donoghue, Bernie Breen, Ciara O’Sullivan, Patrice Dennehy, Louise Ni Mhuirtceartaigh, Sarah Houlihan, Debra Murphy, Geraldine O’Shea.

Subs: Aoife O’Sullivan for Sarah Houlihan, Sinead O’Sullivan for Maura O’Connor, Sara Jane Joy for Debra Murphy, Joanne Brosnan for Louise Ni Mhuirtceartaigh

Galway Team:
J Connolly, A Daly, M O’Connell, A M McDonagh, S Noone, R McPhilbin, E Flaherty, E Concannon, A Clarke, G Conneally, N Fahy, B Hannon, G Joyce, L Joyce, U Carroll.

Subs: C Cormican for G Joyce, T Hughes for J Connolly, G Joyce for E Concannon, A Seoige for B Hannon, B Hannon for C Cormican

Referee: Derek Byrne ( Limerick)

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