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National League Semi Final April 6th

National League Semi Final April 6th

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Kerry travel to Cooraclare on Sunday undefeated in the League and hopeful of qualifying for the final of the Suzuki Ladies National League. They will face very formidable opponents however in Galway, who defeated Kerry at the same stage of the League last season. Kerry have not appeared in a National final since they were defeated five years ago by Laois in the National League final.

Team manager Robbie Griffin was in his first year in management with the Kerry ladies on that occasion and he is hopeful that Kerry can once again qualify for a National final. ” I remember Sue Ramsbottam’s late point to win that League final. It was tough defeat to take at the time. We go out to win every game and the League is important to us. It is also important that the girls get the opportunity to sample the atmosphere of a National final.”

Griffin is confident that Kerry are preparing well under trainer William O’Sullivan but he is worried about Kerry’s lack of competitive action coming into Sunday’s match. ” I can’t fault the girls’ attitudes. They have been superb all year. They have all shown the right qualities of honesty, commitment and respect this season. We are concerned however that it will be five weeks since our last competitive outing and that is bound to affect us on Sunday. Wexford failed to fulfil their fixture with us a couple of weeks ago, which left us in limbo. I understand Wexford’s decision to give us a walkover but it left us without a game. Galway on the other hand had a crucial game to play and that will give them that little edge.”

Griffin acknowledged that Galway need little in the way of advantage as Kerry found out to their cost last season. “There is no doubt about it, Galway are one of the top three sides in the country. They play a hard running game with a number of very talented individuals. We competed well for fifty minutes last season but they proved too good in the end. Our team bares little resemblance to last year’s however and we would be very hopeful that the 2008 squad will step up to the plate. It is vital that our girls match Galway’s runners and worked very hard off the ball.”

Katie Gleeson, Sarah Jane Joy and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh are all likely to push for starting roles on Sunday. Kerry have had a settled look to their team all during the League but Griffin acknowledged that the battle for starting places in the team is intense. “We have a strong squad now and we finally are in a position where we will have a good bench to call on. There will be some quality players sitting on the bench on Sunday.”

Galway also possess some quality players, none more so than Laura Joyce, who almost single handedly destroyed Kerry in last year’s League semi-final in Tuam. Galway’s defence is very strong with Yvonne Daly, Ann Marie McDonagh, Marie O’Connell and Emer Flaherty all good players. Annette Clarke is an outstanding midfielder while Oonagh Carroll compliments Joyce well in attack.

Can Kerry avenge their 2007 semi-final defeat at the hands of Galway? Galway are certainly formidable opponents. Kerry’s early season form was superb although they did have to battle hard against both Laois and Tyrone to secure results. Only time will tell but this team has shown real character in their League campaign to date. If it comes down to a battle then Kerry have every chance of advancing to a League final appearance which would be played on May 3rd.Kerry’s first championship outing is against Waterford on May 10th. A League final appearance would be ideal preparation for the upcoming championship fare.

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