LIDL NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1 ROUND 5
Kerry played champagne football for the second week in a row to blow away reigning league and All Ireland champions Meath by twelve points with a performance that sees them at the top of the Division One table with five wins from five and almost certain to be in the final with two games still to play in the league.
On a day that Kerry held all of the aces throughout the field, Niamh Carmody was the star of the show with 1-4 but she had able back up in the full forward line with Erica McGlynn having a fine outing with two points and the mercurial Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh chipping in with seven (three from play).
The sides swapped scores early in the game with Meath’s Amy O’Leary getting her side off the mark with a sweet point in the 2nd minute, but McGlynn punched over for Kerry two minutes later after Siofra O’Shea, who had another fine outing, initially hit the post.
Kerry, playing with the aid of a swirling breeze on the perfect Brosna GAA sod were putting a lot of heat on the Meath kick out and Louise Galvin, looking very sharp it must be said, got on the end of Monica McGuirk’s poor kick out to punish the Royals and push the Kingdom 0-2 to 0-1 ahead.
Then came Kerry’s goal in the fifth minute, and what a peach of an effort it was. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, working like a trojan, put pressure on the Meath kick out and after winning a ball that she really had no right to, found Kerry wing forward Niamh Carmody coming at serious pace off the shoulder. Carmody had work to do but from an acute angle she backed herself and hit a rasper passed the stranded Meath custodian.
Kerry were in control now, and Siofra O’Shea hit a fine effort off the crossbar as the home side attacked the Meath rearguard with venom and intent. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh made no mistake in the 10th minute with a lovely point and Kerry led by 1-3 to 0-1 with ten minutes gone.
Niamh O’Sullivan for Meath and the rangy Erica McGlynn traded scores but a Ní Mhuircheartaigh free, following a foul on Siofra O’Shea who was roaming to good effect, pushed Kerry 1-5 to 0-2 ahead although Aoibhin Cleary got one back for the visitors as the game ebbed and flowed.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh, unerring as always, responded once more with a free after a foul on Anna Galvin but Meath were to strike for two points on the bounce from Niamh Gallogly and Ciara Smyth to put them just 4 behind, 1-6 to 0-5 with twenty six minutes of a very entertaining first half played.
The last act of the opening period fell to Lorraine Scanlon, superb in the middle of the park, and the Castleisland Desmonds girl scored a point on the stroke of half time following fine work from Aoife Dillane, who had her best outing in a Kerry senior geansaí, to see the Kingdom take a 1-7 to 0-5 lead in at the break.
With the aid of the breeze into the scoreboard end in the second half it was anticipated that Meath would give Kerry a right battle but instead it was the Kingdom that completely snuffed out their challenge as they played with aggression , intent and a very high skill execution.
The first two points belonged to Ní Mhuircheartaigh (one free) and Niamh Carmody scored the first of three almost identical points to the right of the D in the 37th minute. Carmody mixed some serious mileage with a very strong kicking game on a day that the Finuge/St Senans All Star really shone for the Kingdom.
Ciara Smyth, who worked hard for Meath, replied with a score in the forty second minute but it was to prove to be the visitors last score until a Stacey Grimes free in the sixtieth minute as Kerry really flexed their muscles for the rest of the encounter.
The famous Meath defensive system was completely dismantled as the Kingdom proceeded to show a maturity and patience that has been building throughout this season. The positive football they played and their angles of running drew gasps of admiration from the large crowd present and really Meath had no answer to a very well conditioned Kerry outfit.
Kerry threatened a few times at goal but had to be content with points for the most part with Siofra O’Shea’s effort in the 55th minute the pick of what was a high quality 11 second half scores.
The introduction of a raft of substitutes near the end of the contest took a bit of sting out of Kerry and Meath scored the last two points from Stacey Grimes (free) and Aine Sheridan, but the hard work had been done and the Kingdom, with Kayleigh Cronin giving an exhibition of full back play throughout the game, will have the final day of April 15th very much in their thoughts – their first Division One decider since 2008.
KERRY: Ciara Butler; Eilis Lynch, Kayleigh Cronin, Aoife Dillane; Aishling O’Connell, Cait Lynch, Louise Galvin (0-1); Lorraine Scanlon (0-2) Mary O’Connell; Niamh Carmody (1-4), Niamh Ní Chonchúir, Anna Galvin; Siofra O’Shea (0-1), Erica McGlynn (0-2), Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-7 (4f). Subs: Emma Costello for M O’Connell (40), Ciara Murphy for L Galvin (44), Rachel Dwyer 0-1 (f) for E McGlynn (51), Fiadhna Tangney for L Ní Mhuircheartaigh (53), Caoimhe Evans for N Ní Conchúir (55), Ciara O’Brien for E Lynch (57), Katie Brosnan for S O’Shea (57), Caitriona Dillon for N Carmody (58), Emer Riordan for A O’Connell (58), Ciara McCarthy for L Scanlon (60), Keri Ann Hanrahan for A Galvin (60), M Collins for A Dillane (60).
MEATH: Monica McGuirk; Aine Sheridan(0-1), Mary Kate Lynch, Katie Newe; Niamh Gallogly (0-1), Shelly Melia, Aoibhin Cleary (0-1); Máire O’Shaughnessy, Amy O’Leary (0-1); Megan Thynne, Meadhbh Byrne, Ciara Smyth (0-2); Ailbhe Leahy, Stacey Grimes 0-2 (2f), Niamh O’Sullivan (0-1). Subs: O Gore for S Melia (38), Rachel Casserly for M Byrne (44), Ali Sherlock for A O’Leary (46), Orlaith Mallon for C Smyth (48), Shelly Melia for M O’Shaughnessy (53).
Referee: Shane Curley (Galway)