Kerry weather early storm to hammer Mayo

Claire O'Sullivan, Kerry, in action against Leona Ryder, Mayo. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Claire O'Sullivan, Kerry, in action against Leona Ryder, Mayo. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

KERRY sit top of the pile in Division 1, a place they last occupied as far back as 1993 and have lined up a possible semi-final spot with old rivals Cork after they took a Cora Staunton-less Mayo to the cleaners.

A rampant Kerry exploited every blade of grass in the wide open spaces of Fitzgerald Stadium to see them enjoy a 14 point lead at the break. However, it may have been different if Mayo converted some of their three goal scoring chances inside the first 17 minutes.

Both sides took time to settle and opening quarter saw both miss a number of scoring chances as Kerry edged ahead 0-3 to 0-1 with 13 minutes gone. Sarah Houlihan's goal for Kerry on the 15th minute began to see them dominate.

They added four points in three minutes as Breen, Galvin, Corridan and Quirke all found the target. However, it was the last minute goal by Debbie Murphy that put the game beyond reach as Kerry headed to the dressing rooms 2-10 to 0-2 ahead.

Both Mayo points coming from Kathryn Sullivan frees who deputised well in that department for Cora Staunton who along with Yvonne Byrne were missing due to travel commitments. Kerry took the unique decision to replace their whole full-back line at the break, but when you can introduce three former All Star nominated players you know you have strength in depth.

However, Mayo set up more positively in the second half and with Carter and McHale pushing forward they began to work away at the scoreboard. By the 43rd they had it back to 2-11 to 0-7 as it looked like Mayo would set up a tense finale but Kerry hit a purple patch and hit 1-3 with Deirdre Corridan hitting a screamer from 30 yards that Aisling Tarpey could only admire as it hit the top corner.

McHale looked on a personal mission to keep the fight going and Mayo added another three points on the trot with Mchale adding a double to a Kathryn Sullivan free. However, Amy Foley added Kerry's fourth goal late on, as the home side introduced a number of their panel and the game played out in a training fashion.

"It's just another game, another win and just another three points," was the typically matter of fact response from the William O'Sullivan the Kerry manager as he saw his side defeat Mayo by 17 points.

"I suppose when you lose marquee players like Cora Staunton and Yvonne Byrne it's always going to be tough for any manager but I felt we played really well today. We started off a little slow but began to get control in the later stages of the first half. Debbie's (Murphy) goal on the stroke of half time put us in real control."

O'Sullivan was pleased to welcome back some familiar faces too.

"We replaced our whole full-back line at half-time. It was nothing against the performance of the starting three, but we needed to reintroduce Aisling (Leonard), Aoife (Lyons) and Caroline (Kelly) who are all back from long lay-offs. I think they did well, but it's game time they need now as we begin to develop a real squad with plenty strength in depth."

Mayo: A Tarpey, S Tierney, H Lohan, A Bell, M Naughton, M Carter, M Corbett, C McManamon,C Egan, F McHale 0-3,G Kelly 0-1, K Sullivan 0-3(0-3F), O Cannon, A Gilroy 0-2, D Hughes 0-1 Subs: F Doherty for O Cannon (18), A Tuohy for D Hughes (40), L Ryder for H Lohan (49) N Moran for A Bell (53), P Coyle for G Kelly (53), D Doherty for F Doherty

Kerry: A Brosnan, J Brosnan, A Desmond, G Crowley, M Quirke 0-1, C Lynch, D Hallisey, E Sherwood, B Breen 0-1, S J Joy 0-2, D Corridon 1-1, L Galvin 0-2, S Houlihan 1-5 (0-2F), D Murphy 1-0, L Ni Mhuirtceartaigh 0-2 (0-1F) Subs: C Kelly for A Desmond (H/T), A Leonard for J Brosnan (H/T), A Lyons for G Crowley (H/T), L Scanlon for L Ni Mhuirtceartaigh (47),C Buckley for SJ Joy, B Lane for M Quirke (51), A Foley 1-0 for L Galvin (53) C O'Sullivan 0-1 for D Corridan(53) P Dennehy for S Houlihan (53)

Referee: K Delahunty (Tipperary)