Kingdom crowned champions again

Lidl National Football League

Kerry 5-11

Galway 1-10

By Daire Walsh

Kerry produced a stellar performance at Croke Park to earn their 12th Lidl NFL 1 crown with a comprehensive win against Galway.
Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Hannah O’Donoghue and captain Siofra O’Shea all scored goals over the course of the action to complement a two-goal salvo from Niamh Ní Chonchúir as the Kingdom reached the top of the NFL ladder for the first time since 1991.
Just 17 seconds had elapsed when a Leanne Coen point edged Galway in front, but Niamh Carmody responded swiftly with a similar score at the opposite end. Last year’s skipper Anna Galvin subsequently moved the Kingdom into the ascendancy with a sharp score on the turn, before Ní Chonchúir rattled the net on the stroke of 10 minutes.
Buoyed by this score, Kerry scored another goal on the first-quarter mark when marauding full-back Kayleigh Cronin passed the ball inside for Ní Mhuircheartaigh to palm home.
Their Connacht counterparts attempted to build momentum with Olivia Divilly and Roisin Leonard points either side of a fine effort from distance by Lorraine Scanlon for Kerry, while Leonard knocked over her second free in the 20th-minute.
The Munster outfit continued to play with great confidence, however, as Ní Chonchúir and Ní Mhuircheartaigh (free) contributed additional points to give them a 2-5 to 0-4 cushion at the break.
After Galvin, Ní Mhuircheartaigh and Carmody registered consecutive points for the Kingdom on the restart, O’Shea released Ní Chonchúir at the end of a powerful run for her second goal on 38 minutes.
Within seconds, Hannah O’Donoghue got on the end of a move that was instigated by Carmody for yet another goal and the Beaufort attacker followed up with three points in succession to leave Kerry with an unassailable 4-11 to 0-4 lead.
Kate Slevin finally responded for the westerners with a point and the Claregalway corner-forward – who has represented the Republic of Ireland in underage soccer – also converted a 45th-minute penalty to provide her team with some form of solace.
Yet Kerry grabbed a fifth goal through the industrious O’Shea inside the final-quarter and even though Slevin (two), substitute Shauna Brennan (two) and Divilly kicked unanswered points late on, Galway’s search for a breakthrough Division 1 success will continue into 2024.

Scorers – Kerry: N Ní Chonchúir 2-1, H O’Donoghue 1-3, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-2 (0-2f), S O’Shea 1-0, N Carmody, A Galvin 0-2 each, L Scanlon 0-1. Galway: K Slevin 1-3 (1-0 pen, 0-2f), R Leonard (2f), O Divilly, S Brennan 0-2 each, L Coen 0-1.

KERRY: ME Bolger; E Lynch, K Cronin, C Murphy; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Lynch; L Scanlon, M O’Connell; N Carmody, N Ní Chonchúir, A Galvin; H O’Donoghue, S O’Shea, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Subs: A Harrington for M O’Connell (43), C Evans for Ní Chonchúir (49), A Dillane for Murphy, L Galvin for Costello (both 52), F Tangney for O’Donoghue (53).

GALWAY: A Griffin; K Geraghty, S Ní Loingsigh, E Gavin; C Cooney, N Ward, A Molloy; A Davoren, S Divilly; L Coen, L Ward, O Divilly; E Noone, R Leonard, K Slevin.

Subs: C Trill for Gavin (25), S Brennan for Leonard (h-t), T Leonard for E Noone, H Noone for Molloy (both 39), L Noone for S Divilly (43).

Ref: Jonathan Murphy (Carlow).

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