Ladies leave it late to claim Munster SFC title

TG4 Ladies Munster SFC Final: Kerry 1-14 Waterford 3-6

The day was set up for a classic, and in fairness to Kerry and Waterford they didn't disappoint in sun swept Mallow last Saturday, as Kerry were eventually crowned TG4 Munster Senior Ladies champions for the third time in 5 years, after a massive struggle against a game Waterford side.

The sides had met previously in Round 1 of the Munster Championship, and Waterford caused a shock that day when they defeated the Kingdom by three points. They subsequently proved that this win was no fluke by dismantling All Ireland champions Cork by six points in round 2, so Kerry knew that they would face formidable opponents.

In truth Kerry were the superior team all through the game, but the Deise girls will certainly look back on a couple of missed goal chances that could have landed them their first Munster senior title since 2002. The first chance came in the 36th minute when Maria Delahunty rasped the crossbar after a slick passing move,whilst the unlucky Delahunty hit the bar for the second time with just three minutes left in the contest, after she intercepted a poor Kerry kick out. A goal for Waterford at that stage would have put them four points ahead, and with time running out it was difficult to dee how Kerry would recover at that stage. Instead points from Laura Rogers and two from the mercurial Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh, sealed the deal for the Kingdom.

Kerry weren't without their goal misses either, and in the fifth minute of the second half Anna Galvin was unlucky to see her goal bound effort go just wide after a scything run through the Waterford defence.

After a poor enough opening half in which massed defences were the order of the day, the sides went into the interval level with a goal from a penalty from Waterford goalkeeper Katie Hannon helping the Deise to 1-3, with Kerry scoring six points from Lorraine Scanlon, Sarah Houlihan, Amanda Brosnan, and two from the boot of Ni Mhuircheartaigh.

The sin binning Kerry's Anna Galvin in the eighth minute didn't unduly upset the Kingdom, with Kerry actually outscoring Waterford by 0-3 to 0-2 during Galvin's 10 minutes on the sideline. A feature of the first half was the dominance of towering midfielder Lorraine Scanlon who was central to everything good that Kerry created. The Kerry management would have been the happier at half time having restricted Waterford to just one point from play, and with Aislinn Desmond at full back curtailing the influence of Waterford danger woman Maria Delahunty, the omens were good for the second period.

The second half of the game was a much livelier affair and after three early points from Scanlon and Houlihan (2), Kerry appeared to be coasting. Delahunty hit the crossbar, but Grainne Kenneally levelled matters with a palmed goal after great play from Aileen Wall who took on the Kerry defence and passed across goal to the inrushing centre half forward.

Kerry's reply was immediate, and Sarah Houlihan goaled directly from the kick out. As the game ebbed and flowed, Kenneally, who was now stationed at full forward, palmed her second goal of the game after a pass from live wire substitute Aoife Murray to push Waterford one ahead with 47 minutes gone. Delahunty hit the crossbar for the second time as Waterford pressed for the vital score that might secure victory.

Kerry were not to be out done, and with their fitness levels impressively high, scored three late points with Laura Rogers and two Ni Mhuircheartaigh specials firmly putting Waterford to the sword.

Waterford pressed once more but an inspirational block by Amanda Brosnan in the dying seconds summed up Kerry's determination and courage on the day.

The Kerry win was very much borne out of superb teamwork and grit but they will point to some outstanding individual performances from player of the match Aislinn Desmond, Lorraine Scanlon, Ciara Murphy, Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan for setting them on their way. Waterford had fine performances from Michelle McGrath, Aileen Wall, Michelle Ryan and Emma Murray.

Kerry: Laura Fitzgerald, Eilis Lynch, Aislinn Desmond, Aisling Leonard, Denise Hallissey, Ciara Murphy, Caroline Kelly, Lorraine Scanlon (0-2), Emma Sherwood, Amanda Brosnan (0-1) Anna Galvin, Sarah Leahy, Sarah Houlihan (1-4,1f) Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh (0-6,2f) Laura Rogers (0-1). Subs: Aisling O'Connell for Sarah Leahy (27 mins), Hannah O'Donoghue for A Galvin (inj, 52 mins).

Waterford: Jessica Fitzgerald (1-0 pen), Megan Dunford, Caoimhe McGrath, Kate McGrath, Dearbhaile Ni hAodha, Karen McGrath, Michelle McGrath, Mairead Wall, Emma Murray, Roisin Tobin, Grainne Kenneally (2-0), Katie Murray, Aileen Wall, Maria Delahunty (0-3f), Michelle Ryan (0-2). Subs: Aoife Murray (0-1) for K Murray (40 min).

Referee Jason Mullins (Limerick)