Kildare Under 14s Win Historic All Ireland

This was a highly anticipated encounter as both of these teams had defeated well rated opposition, Kildare defeating Meath, Dublin and reigning champions Cavan, Kerry beating Cork, Tipperary and Galway on their respective paths to this final.

2 July 2016; Kildare captain Aoife Gettigan lifts the cup after the All-Ireland Ladies Football U14 'A' Championship Final at McDonagh Park in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. Photo by Ray Lohan/SPORTSFILE *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

There was a strong breeze blowing into the town end of the pitch and Kerry winning the toss elected to play with the wind and for the 1st 15 minutes made it count.Kerry looked the bigger, more physical team and from the throw in Siofra O Shea powered up the pitch to find Danielle O Leary in space and she split the posts. From the kickout O’Shea once again won the ball and found Ava O’Sullivan who took a great point from range.
The Kildare backs and midfield were struggling with the skill and power of this Kerry team and soon after with good team play Mary O Connell found O’Sullivan again and she powered through  to have the goal at her mercy only to blast over the bar. It was all Kerry, wave after wave of attack, the midfield pairing of O’Shea and Connell were running riot driving their team forward, exerting serious pressure on the Lillies defence and it eventually told with Ella Teahan teaming up with Sullivan again who on the 2nd time of asking made no mistake ,blasted home to give Eleanor Traynor in the Kildare goal no chance. From the kickout O’Shea again plucked the ball from the sky and pushed forward taking another well earned point.
Kildare seemed to be in disarray, 15 minutes in and no score registered, they had barely entered Kerry territory.

An innocuous challenge saw Eva Thurley take a heavy fall and the introduction of Kelly Riordan. this gave  time for Kildare to regroup and move Sally Murphy out to act as 3rd midfielder come sweeper, this was to have a huge impact on the game.Murphy with plenty of pace began to pick up any loose ball and drive forward and for the next 15 minutes the Kildare attack was ruthless. Gillian Wheeler had found her legs and was spraying ball with accuracy to the forwards. Haley McCormack received the ball out wide and cut in to take Kildare’s opening score. From the kickout Rattigan broke the ball to Murphy who found Ruth Birchall in space and put the ball over the bar.For the next 10 minutes it was all Kildare, Kelly Riordan broke a Kerry attack and advanced to find Orlaith Sullivan who took a long range effort from the sideline 30 metres out to dip under the crossbar into the net. Kerry were rattled and moved Danielle O Leary out field to stem the flow but it backfired as her marker Mia Supple came too and began to get breaking ball and push forward. Rattigan was taken down around the 40 mark and from the resulting free took a great point

The Kildare half back line were in complete dominance, mopping up ball and breaking Kerry attacks. Mia Doherty, Laoise Lenehan and Kelly Riordan were now finding space to carry forward finding their attackers. McCormack again found space on the left wing pumped the ball into the 14 box, Birchall stormed in ahead of the keeper and punch the ball home to  raise a green flag. From the kickout Wheeler broke the ball to Rattigan who bobbed and weaved her way through to find Sullivan and placed the ball over the bar. It could have been far worse for Kerry only for poor shot selection, bad wides and shortfall to the keeper.Just before half time Ava Doherty received a short kick out and found Siofra O Shea who carried with pace and power and took a score from range, this left the score Kildare 2-5, Kerry 1-5.

Half time coming too quick for the Lillies and not quick enough for the Kingdom.

The 2nd half was to prove a very tight game. Kildare had the breeze in the 2nd half and from the throw in made it count with Rattigan with range and accuracy taking a great point.Kerry had regrouped and restructured at half time and from the kickout worked the ball with patience and precision to advance and O’Leary opened Kerry’s account for the 2nd half.
Both defences were in overdrive, harassing, blocking, forcing turnover after turnover. It was going to take something special to break the deadlock and it came from Wheeler in white. She took possession in her own 30 metre mark with pace and great evasion technique drove forward to find Birchall on the Kerry 21 and she sailed the ball over the bar. From the kickout Rattigan was on hand to carry forward and hooked the ball over the bar.
Kerry not to be outdone provided a moment of brilliance, O Shea took the ball on her 45 line, passing and taking the return powered through and drove the ball to the corner of the net to the rapture of the Kerry fans in the stand. When O’Leary took another point to leave the minimum between the two sides Kerry were in ascendance, their  hearts were lifted but it was to be short lived. Mia Supple took a short kick out and passed to Lenehan who carried forward to find Ciara Price on the wing who took a great shot that beat the keeper only to come back off the upright but Wheeler was on hand to pop it over the bar.
Kerry replied fast, Rachel O Connor took a short ball finding O’Shea she passed to O’Sullivan and split the posts. Kelly Riordan from the kickout carried upfield to find Sally Murphy in space to put the ball across the pitch to find Katie O’Loughlin and she shot low to the corner of the net, a huge blow to Kerry who had worked so hard to get back into contention.
Kerry again put their plan together and were finding space. They had made changes in personnel and fresh legs  began to exert influence. Aoife Dillane was causing trouble in the Kildare back line and forced a switch between Doyle and Lenehan to steady the ship. In the moments of confusion O Shea capitalised and saw her shot clip the top of the crossbar and over.
Disaster struck the Lillies when Aoife Rattigan after a challenge was shown yellow and sat out the last 9 minutes on the sideline.This was all hands to the wheel for Kildare and what a team effort they put in.Kerry battled hard to break through,Ella Teahan pointing from 30 metres.
Aoife Dillane was next to break through with the goal at her mercy only for Traynor to get down to Dillanes feet to pull off a superb save, from the clearance Wheeler carried forward from her own back line straight through only for the Kerry keeper to also pull off a great save. The resulting 45 went wide and from the kick out the keeper went short to Tara Murphy but got blown for not being outside the 21. The hard working Sally Murphy stepped up and duly obliged and pointed.Kerry continually pressed forward, wave after wave was repelled by a sheer white wall, standing firm.
The game finished on a score of Kildare 3-10, Kerry 2-9

This was a brilliant tactical game of football, edge of the seat all the way through for both sets of supporters who travelled in considerable numbers.
For both teams it has been a long journey, for some years, from club u5 and 6s, for club mentors and managers, for players to make the transition to county, to a new higher level.It is a testament to all involved, the serious high level of skill, commitment,  patience and time.
Commiserations to Kerry, gracious in defeat, they go back to regroup, rethink and work hard for the future.
Congratulations to Kildare, the efforts have paid off, a brilliant performance by all on the panel. They have entered history, and hopefully can continue to make history in the future, indeed the future looks very bright for ladies in our county


Kerry scores
Siofra O Shea 1-3,Ava O Sullivan 1-3,Ella Teahan 0-1,Danielle O’Leary 0-2
Gemma Kearney for Chloe O’Connor,Aisling O Connell for Ciara McCarthy
Aoife Dillane for Mary Collins, Andrea Nolan for Ava Doherty.

Kildare scores
Aoife Rattigan 0-3,Sally Murphy 0-1,Ruth Birchall 1-3,Gillian Wheeler 0-1
Haley McCormack 0-1,Orlaith Sullivan 1-1,.Katie O’Loughlin 1-0

Kelly Riordan for Eva Thurley, Ellie Fitzpatrick for Orlaith Sullivan
Sally Keilty for Ciara Price, Maria Kelly for Mia Supple

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