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CHAMPIONS! Cool Kerry steady the ship to claim All-Ireland title No. 38

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Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC Final

Kerry 0-20 Galway 0-16

Croke Park

A superb David Clifford free from a narrow angle proved to be crucial as Kerry powered to a four-point victory over Galway in today’s All-Ireland final in Dublin.

The teams were level on 0-16 and momentum was with Galway when Clifford swung over the lead score in the 67th minute, and fisted efforts by substitute Killian Spillane and Gavin White soon stretched Kerry’s advantage out to three.

Fittingly, the captains combined deep into injury time to seal the deal as Seán O’Shea tapped over a free that had been won by Joe O’Connor.

When Seán Hurson blew the final whistle, An Poc ar Buile reverberated around Croke Park and players, management and supporters basked in the glory of All-Ireland title No. 38. O’Shea and O’Connor lifted the Sam Maguire together to officially end the run of seven years in the wilderness, but one of the biggest cheers of the day was reserved for the Clifford brothers, David and Paudie, who also lifted Sam Maguire side-by-side.

They said the youngest Clifford needed to win an All-Ireland before earning his place in the discussion around the all-time greats. After his performance today and the result it inspired, it’s officially time to talk.

GAVIN WHITE

Before the match began Kerry were buoyed by the inclusion in the starting line-up of Gavin White, the all-action wing back who had sustained a knee injury in the semi-final against Dublin.

White’s availability may have bolstered Kerry’s status as pre-match favourites but any hopes the green and gold faithful had of an easy win were abruptly blown out of the water.

Shane Walsh meant business from the get-go and the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man kicked a fabulous 45 to open the scoring in the 5th minute of play. Galway could have been celebrating an absolute dream of start were it not for a fine block by Stephen O’Brien; the Kerry No. 12 diverted Johnny Heaney’s goal-bound effort over the bar.

Kerry star David Clifford got the Munster champions up and running with a well-taken mark in the ninth minute, but Walsh fired back with two points in succession to make it 4-1 to the Tribesmen.

Clifford (free) and the silky Walsh (with the point of the half) then brought the scores to 5-2 at the midway point of the period.

The Kingdom were errant with their shooting in the first half but they were getting some joy from the high ball, and Paul Geaney gathered one such skyscraper to take his mark and his score. When Clifford kicked a super long-range point in the 18th minute there was just a point between the teams, and the sides were level just moments later when the lively O’Brien clipped over Kerry’s fifth of the day.

The two bona fide superstars on show, Walsh and Clifford, exchanged placed balls (a free and mark), before a high tackle by the latter on Seán Kelly brough the match to a standstill for a couple of minutes. Clifford was booked for the incident and the half rather petered out thereafter. Points by Galway corner back Jack Glynn and midfielder Cillian McDaid, either side of a Seán O’Shea free, left the scores at Galway 0-8 Kerry 0-7 at the interval.

At this point, Galway were more than good value for their lead, and Kerry’s All-Ireland hopes were very much up in the air.

TENSE AND TIGHT

Although the second half threatened to burst into life at stages, it remained fairly tense and tight throughout.

With Walsh continuing his frankly spectacular form, Galway were still a point to the good in the 40th minute (0-10 to 0-9), despite a couple of neat scores by David Clifford and Diarmuid O’Connor. (O’Connor, who lined out with No. 10 on his back, switched to midfield following half-time when David Moran was replaced by Adrian Spillane.)

Paudie Clifford came into the game more in the second period and he equalised in the 41st minute after being set up by the excellent Graham O’Sullivan. Seconds later David Clifford gave Kerry their first lead of the game when he capitalised on a wayward Connor Gleeson kickout by bombing one over from distance.

Pádraic Joyce’s side weren’t going anywhere, however, and with midfielder Cillian McDaid on fire in front of the posts, they once again led by two points with 47 minutes played.

In fairness to Kerry, they kept their cool despite the trying circumstances and a run of four consecutive scores from O’Shea (free), Graham O’Sullivan, David Clifford (free) and Paudie Clifford gave them their biggest lead of the day (0-16 to 0-14).

A harsh call on Gavin White for what appeared to be a fair shoulder on Paul Conroy afforded the Connacht champions a shot at the posts, which Walsh duly converted. When McDaid kicked his fourth point, the game was all square and the wind was in Galway’s sails.

Clifford’s fantastic free settled the nerves, though, and an impressively energetic yet totally calm display down the stretch won the day.

Speaking post-match, manager Jack O’Connor, who is celebrating his fourth All-Ireland as Kerry manager, said he hopes this victory “sparks something big”. That is, perhaps, a conversation for tomorrow, or maybe Tuesday.

For now, Kerry men, women and children at home and abroad can revel in the knowledge that the county’s football team is finally back where it belongs.

KERRY

1. Shane Ryan

2. Graham O’Sullivan (0-1)

3. Jason Foley

4. Tom O'Sullivan

5. Brian Ó Beaglaoich

6. Tadhg Morley

7. Gavin White (0-1)

8. David Moran

9. Jack Barry

10. Diarmuid O’Connor (0-1)

11. Seán O’Shea (0-3f)

12. Stephen O’Brien (0-1)

13. Paudie Clifford (0-2)

14. David Clifford (0-8, 3f, 2m)

15. Paul Geaney (0-1m)

SUBS

Killian Spillane (0-2) for Geaney (HT)

Adrian Spillane for Moran (HT)

Jack Savage for Paudie Clifford (temporary 43-47)

Micheál Burns for O’Brien (57)

Paul Murphy for Ó Beaglaoich (63)

Joe O’Connor for Paudie Clifford (73)

GALWAY

1. Connor Gleeson

2. Liam Silke

3. Seán Kelly

4. Jack Glynn (0-1)

5. Dylan McHugh

6. John Daly

7. Kieran Molloy (0-1)

8. Paul Conroy

9. Cillian McDaid (0-4)

10. Patrick Kelly

11. Matthew Tierney

12. Johnny Heaney (0-1)

13. Robert Finnerty

14. Damien Comer

15. Shane Walsh (0-9, 4f, 1 ’45)

SUBS

Finnian Ó Laoi for Rob Finnerty (47)

Conor Sweeney for Conroy (58)

Eoin Finnerty for Heaney (63)

Niall Daly for Tierney (74)

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Kerry Camogie vow to back players in shorts/skorts controversy

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by Adam Moynihan

The Kerry County Board will back their players if they decide to defy the rulebook and wear shorts after officials at the Camogie Association’s National Congress voted to keep the controversial skort.

Speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry Camogie chairperson Ann Marie Russell confirmed that she is fully behind the players, the vast majority of whom want the skort to be binned.

“I know there have been calls for a protest, that they would all go out the first weekend of the championship and wear shorts,” Russell said. “If the players felt that was something they wanted to do, Kerry Camogie would absolutely support them.

“It should be up to the people who it affects. It doesn’t matter to me what the players wear or what they look like. They should be comfortable.”

The punishment for not wearing the correct playing gear is a yellow card which can be followed by a red card for dissent if not rectified.

Players say the skirt-like garment is not comfortable and they were hopeful that it would finally become a thing of the past when the issue was raised at Congress in Kildare last weekend.

However, a motion by Tipperary and Kerry to replace it with shorts was defeated by 64% to 36%. A similar proposal by Great Britain and Meath which would have given players the option to choose between skorts and shorts also fell well short of the two-thirds majority required (55% against, 45% in favour).

Voting was carried out by delegates from the various county boards as well as members of central and provincial councils. The majority of voters were female.

As one of Kerry’s two delegates, Russell confirmed that she voted in line with the players’ wishes, but she fears that delegates from some counties didn’t do likewise.

“Our job as delegates is to speak on behalf of the players and I definitely felt as though that wasn’t reflected by some of the other counties. I don’t know any girl in any age group at any level that goes to training in a skort. That, in itself, should speak volumes to the powers that be. Even the counties that wanted to keep the skorts, there’s no way their girls go training in skorts. I know they don’t.

“When camogie first started, women weren’t allowed to wear pants, so they had no choice but to wear skirts. They were longer at the time and things have evolved since then. The design is better. But there is a misconception that there are shorts underneath the skirts so ‘what’s the big deal?’ They’re not shorts, they’re compression shorts. That’s not the same thing.

“And look, I’m not wearing the skorts so it doesn’t matter to me. You have to listen to the players. That’s what I feel.

“We’re making decisions that really have little relevance to us, so we really have to take our players’ opinions into it. I’m not sure how many delegates go back and ask their players about these motions before they vote on them.”

Also speaking to the Killarney Advertiser, Kerry senior player Niamh Leen outlined the specific issues players have with the skort.

“If you went around the country, I guarantee you that you’d only find a handful of girls actually training in a skort,” the Clanmaurice woman said. “I’ve never been to a training session where someone was wearing a skort. We’re all in shorts.

“The practical side of it is that they’re really uncomfortable. They’re constantly rising up and I spend the majority of the match pulling the skort down instead of concentrating on the game. It shouldn’t be that way.”

According to Leen, the discomfort felt by players is not just physical. There is also a psychological discomfort involved.

“I am very paranoid about the skort, especially the length. You spend a lot of time bending over to pick up the ball and I am conscious of it. Even if you size up, it’s still too short. The only way to counteract it is to wear Skins (base layer) underneath which I don’t really like doing because that’s not overly comfortable either.

“It should be a players’ vote at the end of the day. We’re the ones who actually have to wear them and we should be the ones having the say. But, unfortunately, it’s not up to us.

“It’s very, very annoying. I could use harsher words but it is just frustrating, you know? We’ve wanted this motion to be passed for so many years.

“Nobody I know likes playing in a skort and it’s frustrating that our own organisation aren’t taking the players into account.”

This is not the first time a proposal to replace the skort has been rejected and players will have to wait another three years for the next Congress to try to alter the rules on an official basis.

Leen believes that she and her colleagues should not have to wait that long and questions the reasoning of those delegates who voted to keep the status quo.

“Honestly, I think it’s to keep the tradition and to keep us unique, and maybe they see the skorts as being more feminine, which is just mind-boggling for me. I just don’t understand how that could be a reason to keep something that’s making girls uncomfortable.

“I understand that it’s the tradition, but sometimes traditions have to move on.”

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MATCH PREVIEW: Kerry name strong team for league final showdown with Armagh

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by Adam Moynihan

Lidl National League Division 1 Final

Kerry v Armagh

Sunday 3pm

Croke Park

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies return to Croke Park on Sunday hoping to retain their Division 1 crown and managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long have named a strong-looking line-up for their battle against Armagh.

Kerry mostly used the league for experimenting but they still managed to win five of their seven matches, enough to secure a top two finish.

Now almost all of The Kingdom’s big hitters are back in play, as evidenced by the team they have selected for this weekend’s Division 1 decider at HQ.

Eleven members of the side that lost to Dublin in last year’s All-Ireland final have been selected to start against Armagh. The four “new” starters are goalkeeper Mary Ellen Bolger, full back Deirdre Kearney, midfielder Mary O’Connell and full forward Emma Dineen.

Dineen has rejoined the panel following a spell abroad and has slotted seamlessly into Kerry’s full forward line. She will be flanked by Footballer of the Year Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and the skilful Hannah O’Donoghue, who scored 1-2 against Galway a fortnight ago.

The only really notable absentee – apart from veterans like Emma Costello and Louise Galvin who haven’t yet featured for the team in 2024 – is Síofra O’Shea. The dynamic attacker, who heroically came off the bench in last year’s All-Ireland despite damaging her ACL in the lead-up to the game, is still rehabbing that serious injury.

Meanwhile, the return of All-Star defender Cáit Lynch bolsters Kerry’s back six. The Castleisland Desmonds woman has been used sparingly so far this year and she came on at half-time in that final regulation league game versus Galway.

Quill and Long are likely to call on substitutes Amy Harrington and Danielle O’Leary to make an impact if and when required.

Kerry’s sole loss in the league came at the hands of their final opponents, Armagh, who are looking to emulate what The Kingdom achieved last season by winning Division 1 at the first attempt after gaining promotion from Division 2 the previous season.

The Orchard County beat Kerry by 3-14 to 1-13 at the Athletic Grounds just over a month ago.

They flew through the regular phase of the 2024 competition, winning six games in a row before losing to Dublin in Round 7 with many key players being rested.

Star forward Aimee Mackin has been in blistering form. She has racked up 6-21 (4-15 from play) to date, including 2-6 (1-6 from play) in that meeting between the eventual finalists in March.

Armagh had not yet named their team for the final as this article was being published.

This match forms part of a double header with the Division 2 final between Kildare and Tyrone (1pm). Both games will be televised live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh:

1. Mary Ellen Bolger (Southern Gaels)

2. Cáit Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

3. Deirdre Kearney (Na Gaeil)

4. Eilís Lynch (Castleisland Desmonds)

5. Aishling O’Connell (Scartaglin)

6. Ciara Murphy (MKL Gaels)

7. Kayleigh Cronin (Dr Crokes)

8. Mary O’Connell (Na Gaeil)

9. Anna Galvin (Southern Gaels)

10. Niamh Carmody (Captain – Finuge/St Senan’s)

11. Niamh Ní Chonchúir (Corca Dhuibhne)

12. Lorraine Scanlon (Castleisland Desmonds)

13. Hannah O’Donoghue (Beaufort)

14. Emma Dineen (Glenflesk)

15. Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (Corca Dhuibhne)

Subs: Ciara Butler, Danielle O’Leary, Amy Harrington, Ciara McCarthy, Ciara O’Brien, Katie Brosnan, Aoife Dillane, Bríd O’Connor, Kate O’Sullivan, Eilís O’Connor, Fay O’Donoghue, Jess Gill, Róisín Smith, Siobhán Burns, Keri-Ann Hanrahan.

Follow Adam on Twitter/X for all the latest updates from the Ladies Division 1 final at Croke Park

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