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Houlihan leads way as Kerry end long wait for final shot


KERRY ended a 19-year wait to reach the final with a six-point victory over Galway in Birr.

The Kingdom, beaten at this stage of the competition in 2010 and 2011, finally smashed their semi-final hoodoo to set up a final clash with holders Cork or league champions Monaghan on September 30.

Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan were in free-scoring form for William O'Sullivan's charges as they shared 10 points between them. The opening half was score for score with Kerry opening proceedings thanks to Lorraine Scanlon before late inclusion Gillian O'Connor hit Galway's reply.

The beaten Munster finalists were defending and attacking in numbers, and Deirdre Corridan gave them the edge once more before Lorna Joyce replied for Galway.

Ni Mhuircheartaigh opened her account from a free to make it 0-3 to 0-2, but once again Galway hit back as Concannon fired over a free.

Kerry led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the break. However, it was Galway who got off to a dream start after the break when Concannon goaled. For the first time Galway were in the lead, but Kerry hit back with a whopping 1-6 without reply.

Midway through the half, Kerry netted when a long Bernie Breen ball saw Lorraine Scanlon on hand to deflect it in. Two more frees from Houlihan put Kerry 1-11 to 1-4 in front before Galway finally got their first point of the half from Tracey Leonard's free.

Caroline Kelly and Houlihan completed Kerry's scoring before Sinead Burke and a Becky Walsh free were all the Connacht champions could muster in their first All-Ireland semi-final since 2005.

SCORERS -- Kerry: S Houlihan 0-5 (2f) L Ni Mhuircheartaigh 0-5 (2f), L Scanlon 1-1, C Kelly and D Corridan 0-1 each. Galway: E Concannon 1-2 (2f), L Joyce, S Burke, B Walsh, T Leonard and G O'Connor 0-1 each.

Galway -- L Higgins; M Coyne, S Conneally, R McPhilbin; B Hannon, E Flaherty, S Burke; E Curley, A Daly; G Conneally, L Joyce, C Hehir; G O'Connor, A Clarke, E Concannon. Subs: D Brennan for O'Connor (31), T Leonard for Hehir (51), E Gannon for Concannon (51), B Walsh for Hannon (51), N Duggan for Clarke (57).

Kerry -- E Murphy; C Lynch, A Leonard, A Lyons; J Brosnan, A Desmond, C Kelly; L Scanlon, B Breen; S Houlihan, E Sherwood, L Galvin; M O'Connell, D Corridan, L Ni Mhuircheartaigh. Subs: P Dennehy for O'Connell (51), M Quirke for Galvin (54).

Irish Independent