Ladies prevail after extra-time defensive duel with Donegal

Kerry goal scorer Louise Galvin in action against Shannon McGroddy, Donegal, in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Sebior Football Championship Round 2 Qualifier in St Brendan's Park, Birr, Co. Offaly on Monday
Kerry goal scorer Louise Galvin in action against Shannon McGroddy, Donegal, in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Sebior Football Championship Round 2 Qualifier in St Brendan's Park, Birr, Co. Offaly on Monday

It was not pretty but it was a win, and when the chips were down it was a little bit of individual class provided by Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and applied by Louise Galvin that was the difference between the two sides.

Kerry rolled out a new defensive style in this Round 2 Qualifier against Donegal, and it's a new strategy that will certainly provide plenty of debate. Kerry for most of the game played with 13 players deep inside their own half with just two players in the full forward line.

It proved a frustrating day for forwards on both side as Donegal were happy to match Kerry and they too flooded their defence with players.

Both sides took a while to adopt to their new style of football but Kerry were much better at getting scores from distance and took a comfortable 0-5 to 0-2 lead after the opening 18 minutes. Scanlon (2), Sherwood, Houlihan and Dennehy were faultless with their shots all of them from well over 40m.

However it was Donegal that made the first serious attempt to unlock the door and were now getting long ball in behind the Kerry full back line and Karen Guthrie came close for an opening goal were it not for Edel Murphy cutting out the danger.

Murphy made a number of telling contributions in the game and in the overall standing proved vital to Kerry's wellbeing. However, she was beaten in the 22nd minute as Emma McCrory got onto the end of a cheeky chip Geraldine McLaughlin to level matters. Breen and Dennehy pushed Kerry out again but Kerry were undone again by a carbon copy effort that McLaughlin was at the end with Kate Keeney providing the telling ball.

It took Donegal to the break ahead 2-4 to 0-9.

Neither side were able to assert themselves on the second half as the pattern of tightness played out between both sides. Kerry did look to kick on by the 43rd minute as a brace of points from Sarah Houlihan and a long range effort from Lorraine Scanlon had Kerry ahead 0-12 to 2-5.

Nevertheless, Donegal were now finding their scores easier to come by and held the lead by a minimum with just five minutes remaining as Kerry introduced Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh who failed to start after picking up a broken nose in a challenge game. It was a move that proved vital as the Corca Dhuibhne player levelled matters with her first touch and despite Donegal pushing on once more with a point from Katy Herron, Kerry's other sub Laura Rogers ensured that both sides would head to extra time.

Kerry rid themselves of their defensive shackles for the first period of extra time and scored 1-5 alone in the first period as Houlihan, Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Galvin began to find gaps. Galvin pounced on a poor Donegal kick out but with Ni Mhuircheartaigh in support, the pair prised open the Donegal defensive for a Galvin score. It proved to be the bedrock for the Kerry victory as Donegal faded.

Kerry will now head into the drum where Cork, Dublin, Galway and Armagh all await.

Kerry: Edel Murphy, Aoife Lyons, Aisling Leonard, Caroline Kelly, Aislinn Desmond, Cait Lynch, Emma Sherwood 0-1, Lorraine Scanlon 0-3 (0-1F), Bernie Breen 0-3, Denise Hallissey 0-1, Deirdre Corridan, Maria Quirke, Sarah Houlihan 0-8 (0-3F), Patrice Dennehy 0-3, Louise Galvin 1-0. Subs: Laura Rogers 0-1 for Deirdre Corridan (52) Megan O'Connell for Lorraine Scanlon (52) Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh 0-2 for Louise Galvin (56), Louise Galvin for Laura Rogers (63) Cassandra Buckley for Megan O'Connell (72)

Donegal: Laura Gallagher, Nicole McLaughlin, Emer Gallagher, Orlaigh Carr, Shannon McGroddy, Kate Keaney, Rose Boyle, Katy Herron 0-4, Eilish Ward, Karen Gutherie 0-1, Roisin McCafferty, Sarah Jane McDonald 0-2, Emma McCrorry 1-0, Geraldine McLaughlin 1-6, Niamh McLaughlin 0-1. Subs: Aisleen Cunnigham for Roisin McCafferty (44), Karen Feeney for Shannon McGroddy (51), Ciara Hegarty for Rose Boyle (65)

Referee: Mel Kenny (Westmeath)

Turning Point

It came as late as the seventh minute of the first period of extra-time when Louise Galvin raised Kerry's first green flag and one finally felt safe.

Talking Point

It was all about the defensive system. Having 13 players behind the ball is one thing but a failure to break in numbers out of defence when you have possession really slowed the whole game down.


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