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JACKIES hold tight to banish THE Birr Blues

MARY JO CURRAN was doing water woman duty for Kerry. Wonder woman, more like.

She was one of the greatest footballers of them all. She played with all the grace of Maurice Fitzgerald.

She saw the Kingdom lose to the Dubs by 2-12 to 1-10 in the Offaly sunshine. Looking on was Gerry McGill, who managed Dublin to their first TG4 All-Ireland title in 2010.

They hadn't won a quarter-final since. St Brendan's Park doesn't contain the best of memories for the Blues, but the boss-man, Gregory McGonigle, was keen to change that.

NEVER

"I told the squad that I had never lost a quarter-final in Birr, winning two with Monaghan," reflected Gregory.

"I said to them they could either have it their way or my way, adding that I'm pretty stubborn!"

Dublin dominated the early chapters. They led by 1-9 to 0-3 at the interval.

Kerry were much better in the second period. They took the game to the Jackies. The post-mortem on the terraces centred on why they didn't do it earlier.

Kerry asked a few questions, but as Albert Reynolds would have said, Dublin got the deal done.

They will now meet Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final this Saturday. Last Saturday's victory will cement the confidence.

"This was a serious challenge. We have beaten a very good side in Kerry," judged Gregory.

"They were in the All-Ireland final in 2012 and they were Munster champions last year.

"They are the only side since Tyrone in 2010 that have beaten Cork in the championship, so that showed the size of the task.

"Our work-rate and desire were first class.

"It was all about Team Dublin, and thankfully we came out on the right side of it."

It has been a most impressive journey for a manager who is in his debut season in the job and who led Dublin to their first ever National League Division 1 final.

"We began on December 21st. A serious effort has been put in by the players, management and the county board.

"And reaching the last four is a reward for all concerned," he added.

Dublin's link play, and their overall movement, had Kerry on the back foot early on. Sinead Aherne's trusty right boot hit eight first half points, seven of them coming from frees.

Dublin's goal arrived on 23 minutes. Another slice of slick passing gave Niamh McEvoy some space and her curling shot with the inside of her right foot dipped under the left-hand side of the bar at the hotel end. Kerry produced three points without reply on the restart from Lorraine Scanlon, the excellent Patrice Dennehy and Louise Ní Mhuirtceartaigh.

COMEBACK

Kerry's lungs were filling with the fresh air of Carrantuohill. The comeback was on.

Yet, 14 minutes in, Dublin got a critical goal when a dart of speed from Noelle Healy took her away from the traffic and her shot found the attic, despite the noble effort of Kerry 'keeper, Edel Murphy.

That looked to be that, but Kerry kept coming. Louise Galvin was 
denied a goal by the right-hand post. A goal then could have been telling.

Points from the industrious Lyndsey Davey and Carla Rowe (2) put Dublin ahead by eight points. With five minutes on the clock, Deirdre Corridan's free dropped into Dublin's basket. Five points in it now, but the Dubs had enough credit in their phones ... and in the legs.


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