LIDL LADIES NFL DIVISION 1
Kerry made it four wins out of four and strengthened their stranglehold at the top of Division 1 with their finest performance in a number of years as they blew away Dublin’s challenge at a resplendent Austin Stack Park under the lights on Saturday evening.
This was champagne football of the finest vintage as the Kingdom played with a swagger and vibrancy that the visitors quite simply had no answer to.
It’s rare that a Dublin ladies team has suffered such a beating from a green a gold clad outfit, but Kerry were quite simply unstoppable and held all the aces throughout the field on a night that really was a coming of age for this side.
Whilst Kerry were convincing against Donegal, they crawled over the line against Waterford and Mayo and many would say that they were lucky to gain the three points from those encounters. This was different, however, and from the very first minute they bossed the encounter throughout.
Once again the brilliant Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh was outstanding, finishing with eleven points (two from play), but in truth each and every one of the players had the better of their direct opponent on the day and will reflect on a job well done.
A blistering first half full of fast flowing attacking football saw Kerry, playing with the aid of a strong breeze race into a 0-6 to 0-2 lead with Ní Mhuircheartaigh scoring five for the Kingdom (two from play) with Siofra O’Shea adding another, with Carla Rowe slotting over two frees for the Dubs.
The visitors were grew into the game thereafter and after Eilish Dowd scored a lovely point, Kate Sullivan struck for a splendid goal in the 14th minute after a fine move involving Rowe and Jodi Egan.
Kerry responded well with the impressive and hard working Niamh Ní Chonchúir and the shining light Ní Mhuircheartaigh adding another free, but Dublin responded once more when Danielle Lawless came from centre half back to slot over the bar.
Then came Kerry’s first goal. Lorraine Scanlon fed Ní Mhuircheartaigh who showed quick hands to find sharpshooter Hannah O’Donoghue and the Beaufort girl made no mistake to shoot low and hard past Ní Eala in the Dublin goal
Kerry were rampant now and Ní Mhuircheartaigh added another free following a foul on O’Donoghue. Goal number two came straight afterwards. Niamh Carmody, once again covering every inch of the Austin Stack pitch, gathered the Dublin kick-out and found Siofra O’Shea coming like a steam train.
The full-forward had only one thing on her mind, and she showed no mercy to shoot to Ní Eala’s top corner, and Kerry led by 2-10 to 1-4 at half-time.
Dublin made a decent effort at getting back into the game in the second half but the Kerry defence was ravenous and limited their opponents to a mere six points whilst scoring 1-5 themselves into the breeze that blew into the Dunne’s end of the ground.
Kerry got bodies back and hunted in packs. Eilis Lynch made some brilliant and timely clearances whilst the work rate of Cáit Lynch and Lorraine Scanlon, who was brilliant on the ground and in the air, was hugely important towards ensuring the Kerry victory.
Aishling O’Connell has also grown into a massive leader for this team and was outstanding, whilst the evergreen Louise Galvin put in a massive shift also. Added to that was Mary O’Connell in the middle of the field who gave her finest performance of her fledgling senior career.
The icing on the cake for Kerry was corner back Ciara Murphy’s goal in the 55th minute when, after being fed by the outstanding Siofra O’Shea, she finished to the back of the net.
Murphy may be a corner-back, but she showed the instincts of her uncle Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper with a sublime finish. A goal worthy of winning any game.
Kerry goalkeeper Mary Ellen Bolger had made an outstanding save a couple of minutes earlier to deny impressive substitute Niamh Hetherton, who finished with two points for the visitors, but in truth Kerry were the much better side and can now dream of making the top two and a place in the final.
Meath await next Saturday in Brosna and what a huge game that is going to be for this Kerry side. A win over the reigning league and All Ireland champions would all but secure a place in the final for Kerry, but the Kingdom will face a more defensive sided outfit in the Royals and will be prepared to ground out rather than stroll to victory as they so impressively did on Saturday.
KERRY: Mary Ellen Bolger; Eilis Lynch, Kayleigh Cronin, Ciara Murphy (1 goal); Aishling O’Connell, Cait Lynch, Louise Galvin; Lorraine Scanlon, Mary O’Connell; Niamh Carmody, Niamh Ní Choncúir (0-1), Caoimhe Evans; Hannah O’Donoghue (1 goal), Siofra O’Shea (1-2) Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (0-11, 9f) Subs: Anna Galvin (0-1) for C Evans 38, Fidhna Tangney for H O’Donoghue 40, Ciara O’Brien for L Galvin 53, Amy Harrington for L Scanlon 53, Erica McGlynn for N Ní Chonchuir 57, Ciara Butler for ME Bolger 58, Rachel Dwyer for L Ni Mhuircheartaigh, Aoife Dillane, for C Murphy 59, Ciara McCarthy for A O’Connell 59
DUBLIN: Emer Ní Eafa; Tammy Quinn Corbally, Martha Byrne, Jess Topbin; Leah Caffrey, Danielle Lawless (0-1), Lauren Magee; Jennifer Dunne, Eilish O’Dowd; Kate Sullivan (1-0), Carla Rowe 0-4 (3f), Ellen Gribben; Caoimhe O’Connor, Jodi Egan, Sinéad Wylde Subs: Orlagh Nolan (0-2) for D Lawless H/T, Niamh Hetherton (0-2) for S Wylde H/T, Chloe Darby for J Egan 39, Kerri Owens for T Quinn Corbally 45, Annabelle Timothy for K Sullivan 47, Orla Martin for C O’Connor 53