Last gasp Galway deny Kingdom

THE margins in football can be really tight.

With time up Kerry led by four points and were headed to the top of the table. However, referee Micheal John O'Keefe found four minutes of added time and Galway, through a last kick from Annette Clarke, found the net in a crowded square and the game was level.

It was a carbon copy of the first half when Kerry conceded another goal to Galway on the stroke of half-time. In all Kerry conceded 2-1 in the added periods of both halves. This was to prove very costly indeed.

Kerry were to finish second. LGFA rules dictate that it is the team with the higher amount of points in the game will win the head to head if both teams are level after seven rounds and their game is a draw. Kerry will now face Westmeath on April 28 in the leagues semi-finals.

After two months traversing across Ireland to gather points it was a cruel moment for a team who seemed to have battled well against a serious Galway outfit.

Kerry's path to Division One needs two more wins, the reward will be a first national league title since 1991, come up short and Kerry will have another year in the second tier, their fourth in-a-row.

Galway with the aid of the wind must have wondered it going to be their day. They found only two scores from Edel Concannon and Rosin Leonard out of seven chances in the first ten minutes. Kerry rarely ventured into the Galway half in this period. They did manage to win a free a close in free and were fortunate to see Sarah Houlihan ninth minute effort drop into the net.

From the kick out Kerry were in again and Louise Galvin's effort was well saved, but Mags Fitzgerald was not as generous and rifled Kerry into a 2-0 to 0-2 lead, maybe not deserved on the play, but scores are vital against the wind and these were to prove gold. Galway settled to their task and reeled off five points of their own in the next five minutes, the pick of them a superb effort from wing back Barbara Hannon from under the stand all of 50 yards.

Kerry were reduced to counter attacking and again picked the Galway pockets in a two minute spell when Louise Galvin goaled on the 16th minute with Patrice Dennehy pointing on the 18th minute to Kerry noses in front 3-1 to 0-7.

Unperturbed Galway were well in control of all the breakdowns and constantly challenged all the Kerry kick outs to a great deal of success. A brace of points from Edel Concannon and one from Tracey Leonard saw they game finally level by the 29th minute; Ni Mhuirtceartaigh edged Kerry ahead again.

It looked like Kerry would lead, but from the Galway kick-out three Kerry missed tackles left Leonard one and one with Edel Murphy with a Galway goal the result.

So it was catch up time for Kerry in the second half. The wind was to be a factor but the Kerry engines were slow to start as Galway through Leonard (sixth minute) and Brennan (eighth minute) took a four point advantage.

However, the Kerry response did come in tremendous fashion. Eight wonderful pointed scores in 17 minutes. Galvin was enjoying her physical battle with Sinead Burke.

She slotted over two points and was involved in plenty more. Corridan chipped in with two of her own and Houlihan, Ni Mhuirtceartaigh, Buckley and a great individual score from corner-back Aoife Lyons looked to have Kerry on their way.

However, the adage of playing to the final whistle was one to shine trough as Galway found 1-1 in the four added minutes. In truth they could have had another goal as Maire Brennan will surely have nightmares when she scooped her shot over an empty Kerry net from five yards out.

So Kerry are where they want to be in the semi-final. A stage they know all too well, having lost out in the two previous years to Meath and Mayo.

Their display was stop start nature and while they will have concerns with retaining ball from kick-outs, they certainly will feel that they have the firepower needed to continue into May.

Kerry: E Murphy, C Lynch, A Desmond, A Lyons 0-1, C Buckley0-1, C Kelly, D Hallissey, Sherwood, B Breen, S Houlihan 1-1, D Corridan 0-1, P Dennehy 0-2, M Fitzgerald 1-0, L Galvin 1-2, L Ni Mhuirtceartaigh 0-2. Subs: M Quirke for Corridan (51), L Scanlon for Fitzgerald (54)

Galway: J Connolly, M Hernon, S Conneally, NWard, B Hannon 0-1, E Flaherty, R Mc Philbin, E Curley, A Clarke1-1, T Leonard0-2, D Brennan0-1, A Daly, G Conneally, R Leonard 1-3, E Concannon 0-4 Subs: A Rohan for Hernon (H/T), M Brennan 0-1 for Curley (44), S Burke for Leonard (49)

Referee: MJ O Keefe (Cork)


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