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Ní Mhuircheartaigh and Houlihan kick Kerry into All Ireland final

The Kingdom held off the challenge of Galway and will now meet either Cork or Monaghan in the final.

Galway's Sinead Burke with Louise Galvin of Kerry.
Galway's Sinead Burke with Louise Galvin of Kerry.
Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

KERRY ARE THROUGH to a first TG4 All-Ireland ladies senior football championship final since 1993 following today’s six-point victory over Connacht champions Galway.

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

William O’Sullivan’s Kerry breezed into the showpiece decider as they ruthlessly disposed of Galway at St Brendan’s Park, Birr.

Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and Sarah Houlihan were in free-scoring form for the winners as they shared ten 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.

Beaten Munster finalists Kerry were defending and attacking in numbers, and Deirdre Corridan gave them the edge once more before Lorna Joyce replied for Galway, just after Edel Concannon missed a gilt-edged goal chance for Gabriel Naughton’s side.

Kerry ace Ní Mhuircheartaigh opened her account from a free to make it 0-3 to 0-2, but once again Galway hit back within minutes as Concannon, scorer of 1-7 against Clare in the quarter-final, fired over a free.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh was causing Galway all sorts of problems and gave Kerry the edge again before Concannon notched another free and by this stage, Kerry had registered five wides from scoreable positions.

Ní Mhuircheartaigh then ensured a more impressive Kerry led by 0-5 to 0-4 at the break and the second half onslaught would book their berth in the decider.

However, it was Galway who got off to a dream start after the break when Annette Clarke fed Sinead Burke, who was moved into attack, and she squared for Concannon to make amends for her first half miss.

For the first time Galway were in the lead, but Kerry hit back with a whopping 1-6 without reply to stun Galway who had no answer to their driving style of attack.

Aisling Leonard celebrates the final whistle. ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Sarah Houlihan pelted over two frees and Ní Mhuircheartaigh followed suit, before Kingdom substitute Patrice Dennehy saw a rasping effort hit the post.

But midway through the half, Kerry netted when a long Bernie Breen ball saw her fellow midfielder Lorraine Scanlon at hand to deflect it in, with the new rules allowing the goal to stand.

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. Shortly before, Concannon had driven an effort goal bound but it was well blocked by Kerry’s Allstar goalkeeper Edel Murphy.

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.  1-7 to 1-13 the final score.

Galway scorers: E Concannon 1-2 (0-2f), L Joyce, S Burke, B Walsh, T Leonard and G O’Connor 0-1 each.

Kerry scorers: S Houlihan 0-5 (2f) L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-5 (2f), L Scanlon 1-1, C Kelly and D Corridan 0-1 each

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

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 Quirke 54mins); M O’Connell (P Dennehy 51mins), D Corridan, L Ni Mhuircheartaigh.

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