Kerry back where we need to be – Houlihan
SARAH Houlihan was Kerry's star turn as the Kingdom gained promotion back to Division 1 at Parnell Park.
All Star Houlihan scored six points, including two classy efforts from play, in a player-of-the-match performance.
Houlihan insisted afterwards that the top tier is where Kerry need to be as they look to build on last year's All-Ireland final appearance.
She said: "We've been three years in Division 2 and we wanted to get back to Division 1. Thankfully, the buzzer came when we wanted it. We've been building for a few years. William (O'Sullivan) came in and we've worked hard. That team has been built from scratch and it took us a while to get to where we are today. But now we're back where we want to be."
Kerry can now approach next month's Munster championship opener against Cork with plenty of optimism. But they'll have to come up an extra couple of gears to tackle the All-Ireland champions.
Kerry were left hanging on at the finish against wind-assisted Galway as the Tribeswomen whittled a 1-11 to 0-6 deficit down to just two points with six minutes remaining.
But sub Lorraine Scanlon settled Kerry's nerves with the final score of the game and Galway were left to reflect on a second successive Division 2 final loss.
Tribes manager Barry Downey lamented: "We just didn't get started in the first half. Five minutes before the break, we began to kick in, but there's no excuses, we just didn't perform in the first half.
"You get games like that, but it's just very hard for the girls because they put in a terrific fight in the second half. That's what we know they can do, so that's where the disappointment lies."
With the aid of the strong wind in the first half, Kerry took advantage to open up a 1-8 to 0-5 half-time lead, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh blasting home a third-minute penalty after Rebecca McPhilbin fouled Margaret Fitzgerald.
Galway's top scorer Edel Concannon and Houlihan traded frees after the restart before Kerry sub Laura Rogers tested Galway's crossbar with a blistering drive in the 41st minute.
Points from Houlihan and Rogers had Kerry eight points in front – 1-11 to 0-6 – but Galway responded strongly and were right back in the hunt when Annette Clarke buried a 47th-minute penalty.
The award was probably the correct call by referee Maggie Farrelly, who whistled for over 60 frees during a stop-start encounter, though a yellow card Lyons was somewhat harsh.
Scorers – Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-3 (1-0 p, 2fs), S Houlihan 0-6 (4fs), B Breen, P Dennehy, L Scanlon, L Rogers 0-1 each. Galway: E Concannon 0-6fs, A Clarke 1-0p, B Hannon, D Brennan, A Daly, L Hannon 0-1 each.
KERRY – E Murphy 7; C Lynch 7, A Desmond 8, A Lyons 7; B Lane 7, C Kelly 7, D Hallissey 7; E Sherwood 7, B Breen 8; D Corridan 7, M Fitzgerald 6, S Houlihan 8; L Galvin 6, P Dennehy 6, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 7. Subs: L Scanlon 7 for Fitzgerald (h-t), L Rogers 7 for Dennehy (h-t), M O'Connell for Galvin (45).
GALWAY – J Connolly 6; A Rohan 6, R McPhilibin 6, N Ward 6; B Hannon 7, E Flaherty 6, S Burke 6; A Clarke 7, E Curley 6; G Conneally 5, D Brennan 6, A Daly 6; T Leonard 5, R Leonard 6, E Concannon 7. Subs: L Joyce 6 for T Leonard (h-t), L Hannon 6 for Conneally (45), C Cormican 6 for Curley (45), C Hehir 5 for Brennan (48), G O'Connor for R Leonard (54).
Ref – M Farrelly (Cavan)