Ladies defeat to Donegal sets up date with Dubs

All Ireland Qualifier Round 3: Kerry 3-6 Donegal 1-13

Dan Kearney

Kerry went down by one point to Ulster champions Donegal after a courageous performance in Dr Hyde Park Roscommon last Saturday. With both teams already qualified for the quarter-finals, the result would decide who would have the easier tie. With the loss Kerry have drawn the short straw, and will now face All-Ireland champions Dublin on August 12.

Kerry made one enforced change before the start of the game with Kate O'Sullivan coming in for the injured Sarah Murphy. They didn't get off to the best of starts however, and a point by Geralldine McLaughlin after 20 seconds was added to with a goal from Eilish Ward four minutes later after a terrible mix up in the Kerry defence.

Ward added another point two minutes later and Kerry looked in danger of getting a hiding. Sarah Houlihan settled her side with a pointed free, and as Kerry grew into the game wing forward Amy Foley kicked a point when a goal looked certain. Donegal were playing the better football however, and points from Aoife McDonnell and Karen Guthrie pushed them 1-4 to 0-2 ahead on the quarter hour mark.

Kerry had a major let off a minute later when Eilis Ward put a penalty harmlessly wide. The call came after Yvonne Bonner was fouled in the small parallelogram, but Ward made a complete hash of the resultant spot kick.

Kerry made the most of this let off straight afterwards when Andrea Murphy went on a great run and after combining with Houlihan, the Beaufort girls effort struck the post. Amy Foley was in the right place on the follow up and punched the loose ball into the back of the net to leave the score at 1-5 to 1-2.

The goal was but a brief respite for Kerry however as Donegal attacked once more, and after Sara Jane McDonnell rattled the crossbar, two Geraldine McLaughlin frees saw them take a 1-7 to 1-2 lead in at half time.

Both sides were guilty of some sloppy play at the start of the second half and Kerry suffered a blow to their chances when Lorraine Scanlon received a yellow card, and a 10 minute spell in the sin bin, after just 8 minutes. Donegal took advantage of their numerical superiority with points from McLaughlin and Bonner, but Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh kept Kerry in the game with a goal in the 40th minute following more good work from Murphy.

Another brace from McLaughlin saw Donegal push 1-11 to 2-2 ahead, but Kerry stormed right back into the game scoring 1-3 in a three-minute spell with the points coming Murphy, Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Houlihan, while Amanda Brosnan hit the back of the net following a Donegal kick out. Suddenly Kerry were just a point behind with 10 minutes left to play.

A McLaughlin free kick pushed Donegal 2 ahead once more and Kerry tried with all their might to salvage something from the game. Unfortunately, all they had to show for their efforts was a pointed free from Sarah Houlihan in the 28th minute. Donegal played keep ball for the rest of the game, and Kerry found it difficult to get their hands on any meaningful possession. The final buzzer sounded soon afterwards and Donegal finished as one point victors.

Kerry will reflect back on the game with regret on what might have been, but they can take solace from their brave fightback when the odds seemed stacked against them.

Kerry: Laura Fitzgerald; Kate O'Sullivan, Sarah Murphy, Eilis Lynch; Deirdre Kearney, Aislinn Desmond, Aishling O'Connell; Lorraine Scanlon, Amanda Brosnan (1-0); Emma Dineen, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (1-0), A Foley (1-1); A Murphy (0-1), E O'Leary, S Houlihan (0-4, 2f). Subs: Sophie Lynch for Foley (45), Siobhan Burns for Brosnan (55), Aoife O'Callaghan for Murphy (55).

Donegal: L Gallagher; T Doherty, N McLoughlin, D Foley; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, A M McGlynn; K Herron (0-1), A McDonald (0-1); K Guthrie (0-1), N Hegarty, S J McDonald; G McLoughlin (0-8, 7f), Y Bonner (0-1), E Ward (1-1). Subs: C Grant for Guthrie (21), R Friel for S J McDonald (45).

Referee: Gerry Carmody (Roscommon)