Kerry ladies win League final dress rehearsal with three-point win over Galway in open and entertaining contest
Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh top scored for Kerry with 2-3 scored in the first half away to Galway in ‘dead-rubber’ round 7 game
LGFA NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1 ROUND 7
Not for the first time Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh was the scoring hero for Kerry as a first half haul of two goals and three points inspired her side to a three-point victory over Galway in the final round of this season’s National League.
The win sees Kerry finish their campaign with six wins out of seven, with their only loss coming in last weekend’s defeat to Cork, and they can now look forward to the final of the competition on April 15 where they will face the Tribeswomen.
Although this game, played in Tuam Stadium, was a dead rubber, with both sides already qualified for the Division One final, one would scarcely think it, such was their endeavour in the battle for victory. With little to lose, both sides threw off the shackles and played out a hugely entertaining contest.
Kerry looked pretty sluggish in the opening quarter and with Galway’s pace causing them huge problems, the home side raced into a 0-7 to 0-2 lead with twenty minutes played. Ailbhe Davoren, Louise Ward and a Kate Slevin free kick that was awarded after a head-scratcher of a charging call against Ciara Butler got Galway rolling. Kerry replied with a lovely point from Fiadhna Tangney followed by a Ní Mhuircheartaigh free.
Ciara Butler made a good stop from Ailbhe Davoren as Galway came at Kerry in waves and they tagged on four points on the trot with Davoren’s second of the game the pick of the bunch. Kerry were all over the place and Butler had to make a fantastic finger tip stop from Leanne Coen to keep her teammates heads above water.
There is a kind of a calm self belief in this Kerry squad though, and suddenly they turned on a light switch that seemed to make the Tuam Stadium an awful lot brighter. Ní Mhuircheartaigh pointed after a pass from Tangney, and then the impressive Tangney and Ní Mhuircheartaigh combined once more with Niamh Carmody, back to her best, adding the finishing touch.
Then, in the 27th minute, came the move that turned the complexion of the game completely. A Galway kick out was batted down by Mary O’Connell to Carmody, she in turn fed Tangney, and finally Emma Costello cut the angle before finding Ní Mhuircheartaigh who finished with a deft touch of the hand to Karen Connolly’s net.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh added a point straight afterwards (assist Siofra O’Shea) and it was Kerry, with 1-3 without reply in their back pocket, that were making all the running now. The dangerous Kate Slevin got a point back for Galway, but Kerry were to strike for their second goal on the stroke of half time.
Níamh Ní Chonchúir played a raking long ball into Síofra O’Shea and she tapped down to Ní Mhuircheartaigh who this time finished with the boot. Kerry have added a long ball game to their armoury this season and on that occasion it paid rich dividends. At the short whistle the Kingdom led by 2-05 to 0-8.
Galway kept Kerry waiting for a while before the second half resumed and although the lethal Ní Mhuircheartaigh didn’t come out for the second act, we didn’t have long to before the Kingdom’s third goal. Amy Harrington went on a fine run, and although she might have shot herself she chose to pass to Fiadhna Tangney. The ball went to ground, and as a scramble ensued Ní Mhuirheartaigh’s replacement Hannah O’Donoghue finished soccer style to the net to push Kerry 3-5 to 0-10 ahead with eight minutes gone in the second half.
Kerry added points with a brace from the lively Tangney, and Carmody with her second of the contest, as they took complete control of proceedings. Carmody fired in a few long balls that were easily dealt with but it only takes one to do damage, and Hannah O’Donoghue turned and swivelled before forcing Connolly into a good stop.
A Olivia Divilly free was sandwiched between points from Amy Harrington and Rachel Dwyer (free) and with ten minutes left to play Kerry looked home and hosed as they led by 3-10 to 0-11. Galway are a good side however and for the remainder of the game they dominated the Kingdom .
Olivia Divilly (free), Ailbhe Davoren, Tracey Leonard , Aoife Ní Cheallaigh and Kate Slevin (2 frees) scored six points on the trot as Galway threw everything bar the kitchen sink at Kerry. They rarely threatened for the goal that they needed though as a tough tackling Kerry rearguard put the closed for business sign on the shop door, and some good scrambling defence kept the Tribeswomen out.
The final act of the contest fell to Rachel Dwyer who pointed after a sweeping counter attack involving the hard working Anna Galvin, Hannah O’Donoghue and Amy Harrington to seal Kerry’s victory. Some of the Kerry players will now embark on an All Star tour to Texas and when they return they’ll have the tasty National League final to play on April 15.
KERRY: Ciara Butler; Eilis Lynch, Kayleigh Cronin, Ciara Murphy; Aisjhling O’Connell, Emma Costello, Cait Lynch; Lorraine Scanlon, Mary O’Connell; Niamh Carmody (0-2), Niamh Ní Chonchúir Anna Galvin; Fiadhna Tangney (0-3), Siofra O’Shea, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh 2-3 (0-1f). Subs: Amy Harrington for L Scanlon (18), Niamh Broderick for K Cronin (ht), Hannah O’Donoghue (1-0) for L Ní Mhuircheartaigh (ht), Aoife Dillane for E Lynch (40), Rachel Dwyer 0-2 (1f) for S O’Shea (47), Mary Ellen Bolger for C Butler (49), Erica McGlynn for C Lynch (52), Ciara McCarthy for N Ní Chonchúir (52), Ava Doherty for C Murphy (57), Katie Brosnan for Carmody (62).
GALWAY: Karen Connolly; Chellene Trill, Sarah Ní Loingsigh (capt.),Aoife Ní Cheallaigh (0-1); Charlotte Cooney, Nicola Ward, Hannah Noone; Aibhe Davoren (0-3), Olivia Divilly (0-2f); Leanne Coen (0-1), Eva Noone (0-1), Siobhan Divilly; Aoife O’Rourke, Louise Ward, Kate Slevin 0-8 (4f). Subs: Tracy Leonard (0-1) for L Coen (ht), Lynsey Noone for A O’Rourke (ht), Jemma Burke for C Cooney (34), Linda Booth for S Divilly (41), Caoimhe Cleary for O Divilly (53), Aoife Molloy for H Noone (53), Mairead Glynn for Davoren (55), Mairead Seoighe for E Noone (60+1).
Referee: Garryowen McMahon (Mayo)