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Crafty Kerry down Derry and march on to All-Ireland semi-final

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Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park

All-Ireland SFC Quarter-Final

Kerry 0-15 Derry 0-10

It wasn’t pretty but Kerry overcame Mickey Harte’s Derry in Croke Park today to book their place in the last four of the 2024 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship.

A game that was plagued by cautious, sleep-inducing football was only partially redeemed by a rousing final quarter in which the Kingdom outscored their Ulster opponents by seven points to two.

The lively Tony Brosnan and substitute Killian Spillane kicked crucial scores as Jack O’Connor’s men finally pulled away from their determined opponents, with in-form half back Brian Ó Beaglaoich and young sub Cillian Burke also influential.

Kerry join Armagh, Galway and Donegal in the last four and there will be no need for a draw as Armagh cannot play Galway or Donegal again. That means Kieran McGeeney’s men in orange now stand between Kerry and their third All-Ireland final appearance in a row.

There is always room for improvement but Jack O’Connor will be relatively satisfied with the manner in which his side ground out the victory. Fans will be happy with the result but hoping for better fare when they return to Dublin in two weeks’ time.

HARMLESS POSSESSION

With both sides content to sit back and tempt the other into a potential turnover situation, harmless possession 50-plus metres from goal was the order of the day. Goal chances were few and far between although Gareth McKinless, who rocked Kerry with an early goal in the 2023 semi-final, went close in the very first minute. Luckily for the Kingdom, his low, right-footed shot whizzed past Shane Ryan’s right-hand upright.

Kerry had the better of the opening exchanges with David Clifford’s magnificent solo opener getting them up and running in the second minute. Conor Glass equalised shortly after but a beauty by Tony Brosnan and a well-claimed mark by Clifford made it 3-1 with eight minutes on the clock.

This two-point lead would be the largest either side would hold in a tight and cagey first half.

Derry soon closed the gap thanks to two super kicks by the lively Shane McGuigan, one with his left from the left-hand side and one with his right from the right-hand side.

Like McKinless, Gavin White bagged an early goal last July and, like McKinless, he missed a great opportunity to do likewise this afternoon. When Paul Murphy fisted off the post, White was on hand to gather and shoot but the wing back was denied by a magnificent block by McGuigan.

The Slaughtneil club man added another point at the other end, this time from a free, to give Derry their first lead of the day before fisted efforts by Brian Ó Beaglaoich and Joe O’Connor made it 5-4 to the Munster champions.

Derry finished the half well with the impressive Brendan Rogers and McGuigan both pointing either side of a well-taken score by the hungry Paul Geaney, all of which left the scores at a lousy enough 0-6 to 0-6 at the break.

MORE OF THE SAME
The travelling supporters were subjected to more of the same in the third quarter as Kerry opted to keep the ball rather than attack and run the risk of falling into Derry’s trap.

Six minutes had elapsed by the time McGuigan kicked the first score of the second half, and that was from a free.

Diarmuid O’Connor broke forward within a matter of seconds to split the posts after good work by David Clifford, and then Clifford (free) and Paul Cassidy exchanged points to make it eight all heading into Q4.

Much like the 2023 clash between the teams, this is when Kerry showed their class as Seánie O’Shea and Killian Spillane kicked important scores, prompting Rogers to bite back with his third of the day. It was 0-10 to 0-9 now and it felt like the next point would be huge.

Thankfully from Kerry’s perspective, it was the energetic Tony Brosnan who took the initiative, jinking by his man and popping over a trademark point under severe pressure.

O’Shea stretched the lead to four with two frees resulting from brilliant work by Ó Beaglaoich and the effervescent Burke. The Milltown/Castlemaine man was a thorn in Derry's side as he put in his most impactful championship performance of his rookie season so far.

The unmarked Odhran Lynch managed to pull one back for Derry but replacement Dylan Geaney and White put the final nails in the coffin in stoppage time.

In the end it was Kerry’s craft and ability to make smart decisions that shone through and they will now go into the semi-finals as All-Ireland favourites following Dublin’s shock defeat to Galway.

That Dublin loss will energise all remaining competitors, though, and this Kerry squad have been on the road long enough to know that another huge effort will be required to clear the next hurdle on the second weekend in July.

KERRY: S Ryan; P Murphy, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; B Ó Beaglaoich 0-1, T Morley, G White 0-1; D O’Connor 0-1, J O’Connor 0-1; T Brosnan 0-2, P Clifford, D Moynihan; D Clifford 0-3 (1m, 1f), S O’Shea 0-3 (2f), P Geaney 0-1.

Subs: C Burke for Moynihan; K Spillane 0-1 for P Geaney; D Geaney 0-1 for Brosnan; A Spillane for J O’Connor; M Breen for Ó Beaglaoich.

DERRY: O Lynch 0-1; C McCluskey, C McKaigue, D Baker; C Doherty, G McKinless, E McEvoy; C Glass 0-1, B Rogers 0-2; E Doherty, C McFaul, P Cassidy 0-1; E Mulholland, S McGuigan 0-5 (3f), L Murray.

Subs: N Toner for Mulholland; N Loughlin for Murray; E Bradley for McFaul; C Murphy for Cassidy.

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Ladies’ Semi-Final Preview: Armagh stand between Kerry and a third shot at glory

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LGFA All-Ireland Senior Championship Semi-Final

Kerry v Armagh

Saturday 7.15pm

O’Connor Park, Tullamore

Live on TG4

The Kerry ladies are just 60 minutes away from their third All-Ireland final in a row but they will have to bring their ‘A’ game to overcome the challenge of Armagh at O’Connor Park in Offaly later today.

The Kingdom have been installed as competition favourites after beating Meath (and after champions Dublin lost to Galway) in the quarters and they should be in confident form following that victory over the Royals in Tralee a fortnight ago.

However, they are unlikely to have it all their own way against an Armagh side who have beaten them twice already this season, in the league in March and then in the league final in Croke Park in April.

Losing star player Aimee Mackin to an ACL injury in the Ulster final came as a tremendous blow to the Orchard County. Mackin scored 2-6 (2-5 from play) and 1-4 (1-2) from play in the two games against Kerry this year so her teammates will have to make up the difference in her absence.

Kerry, meanwhile, have been buoyed by the return from an ACL injury of Síofra O’Shea, who scored 0-3 off the bench against Meath. The skilful trio of Danielle O’Leary (1-28, 3f), Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh (2-15, 9f) and Emma Dineen (4-5) have accounted for the bulk of the team’s scores this season with Hannah O’Donoghue and team captain Niamh Carmody also capable of finding the target.

Managers Declan Quill and Darragh Long will be hoping that this attacking threat coupled with the teak tough defending of Eilís Lynch, Deirdre Kearney and Aishling O’Connell will be enough to see them over the line. With the dependable Ciara Butler between the sticks, Kerry have kept three clean sheets in their last four games which is a record they would love to improve upon today.

Armagh, who haven’t played in a senior ladies’ football All-Ireland final since 2006, arrive at the semi-final stage on the back of wins over Meath and Mayo. Eve Lavery is their top scorer to date with 0-11 (7f) to her name. Blaithin Mackin, younger sister of Aimee, has chipped in with 1-5.

Kerry v Armagh will be preceded at O’Connor Park by the other All-Ireland semi-final between Galway and Cork. The Rebels last made the final in 2020 while The Tribeswomen are aiming to reach their first decider since 2019. Both counties lost to Dublin in those respective finals.

Galway v Cork starts at 5pm. Both matches will be shown live on TG4.

Kerry team to play Armagh: C Butler; E Lynch, K Cronin, C Murphy; A O’Connell, D Kearney, A Dillane; M O’Connell, A Galvin; N Carmody (captain), D O’Leary, N Ní Chonchúir; H O’Donoghue, E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh.

Armagh: A Carr; G Ferguson, C McCambridge (captain), R Mulligan; C Towe, L McConville, D Coleman; N Coleman, C O’Hanlon; E Druse, A McCoy, B Mackin; E Lavery, N Henderson, K Mallon.

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Jordan Lee vows to bounce back as injury ends 2024 Paralympic dream

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Killarney high jumper Jordan Lee is determined to bounce back stronger than ever after announcing his withdrawal from the Paralympic Selection Process due to injury.

The Killarney Valley AC athlete, who represented Ireland at the Tokyo Games in 2021, was hoping to wear the green singlet again in Paris in August/September but he was forced to pull out “due to an injury that had developed over the past couple of weeks”.

“[To say that I’m] absolutely gutted is an understatement considering the season that we’ve just had and being ranked number 6 in the world rankings on the lead-up,” Lee said via Instagram.

“This is sport at the highest level and unfortunately this is an injury that couldn’t turn right in time for Paris which is only a few weeks away.”

The local lad went on to thank Killarney Valley and his coaches Tomás Griffin, Alan Delaney and Shane O’Rourke for their support, as well as his sponsors PTSB, Puma, Toyota, Kellihers Garage and Output Sports.

“To my family and my friends, I’ve always repped that Irish vest with the utmost pride, not just representing myself and my beautiful country, but my amazing family and friends that I have too. I love ye all.

“Wishing my teammates within Paralympics Ireland all the very best in Paris.

“Roll on 2025 for the Europeans. I’ll be back better and ready for vengeance. Believe that.”

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