Suzuki Ladies National Football Div 1 final

LAOIS 2-10 KERRY 2-9

THERE was drama aplenty in the closing stages of the Suzuki Ladies National Football Div 1 final at Cusack Park Ennis yesterday, when Laois came from behind in injury time to pip Kerry and claim the title for the first time since 1993. In an action packed conclusion, the Midlanders, who were trailing by two points (2-9 to 2-7) kicked three scores in added time to leave the Kerry girls heart-broken at the final whistle.
This was a tie that Kerry left behind them, failing to score in the final ten-minute period at the end of a half in which they had dominated for the most part. In the first half the Munster girls found themselves 1-3 to 0-2 behind entering the second quarter, but four vital scores before the break saw them level at half-time.
The Laois goal in the 17th minute came about as a result of a great solo run by midfielder and ‘Woman of the Match’ Kathleen O’Reilly. She hand passed to full-forward Mary Kirwan, who drilled home a fine shot passed Andre O’Donoghue in the Kerry goal. But instead of spurring on the Laois girls, the score appeared to have the opposite effect, as Kerry replied with a long range effort from Geraldine O’Shea and three well taken points by corner-forward Kacey O’Driscoll, to leave the half-time score reading Laois 1-3, Kerry 0-6.
Within four minutes of the re-start, Kerry were in front thanks to a Patrice Dennehy goal following a Shari Delaney hand-pass. But in a frantic few minutes the trend was reversed as the winners pulled back a goal and two points to regain the lead. Sue Ramsbottom pointed a long range free, before Tracey Lawlor had another from play and when O’Reilly sent in a long ball from mid-field, Ramsbottom was at the end of it, to hammer home Laois’s second goal.
At the mid-point of the half Laois enjoyed a 2-7 to 1-7 advantage, but a Kerry goal from Shari Delaney in the 49th minute levelled matters once more. Delaney and centre-back Sara O’Connor gave Kerry a two-point lead by the 51st, but a golden opportunity to put this contest out of sight, was spurned by the Kingdom, when captain Geraldine O’Shea saw her penalty kick sail to the left and wide two minutes later.
On the hour Tracey Lawlor cut the deficit to just a point and a minute and a half into injury-time, Mary Kirwan’s free from about 38 metres sailed over the Kerry cross-bar to equalise. In the third minute of added time Ramsbottom proved to be Laois’s hero of the hour when she was on target with another long range free from the right hand side of the field. This vital score at the death gave Laois a last gasp victory and concluded a very entertaining decider.

LAOIS – Mary Kirwan 1-3 (0-3f), S Ramsbottom 1-2 (0-2fs), T Lawlor 0-3 (0-1f), M Kehoe, K O’Reilly (0-1) each. 
– S Delaney 1-1, K O’Driscoll 0-4 (0-2fs), P Dennehy 1-0, G O’Shea 0-3 (0-2fs), S O’Connor 0-1.
LAOIS – B Deegan; S Cuddy, P Fogarty, M Phelan; G Dunne, A Casey, L Buggy; M Casey, K O’Reilly; T Lawlor, S Ramsbottom, L Brennan; M Kehoe, M Kirwan, Martha Kirwan. Subs: G Weston for Cuddy, A O’Loughlin for Martha Kirwan, A Connolly for M Casey.

KERRY – A O’Donoghue; G Ni Fhlatharta, K Gleeson, J Murnane; R Ni Chinneide, S O’Connor, L Ross; E O’Connell, C Kelly; K Kennelly, P Dennehy; M Finnegan, S Delaney, G O’Shea, K O’Driscoll. Subs: G O’Malley for Ni Chinneide, C Sexton for Ross, A M O’Shea for O’Malley, D Dennehy for O’Connell, D Corridon for Finnegan.

REF – E O’Hare (Down).

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