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Dogged Kerry stage late fightback to break Derry hearts

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Adam Moynihan reports from Croke Park, Dublin

All-Ireland SFC Semi-Final

Kerry 1-17 Derry 1-15

Reigning champions Kerry fought back from the brink to overcome a spirited Derry side in a breathless semi-final at Croke Park this evening.

Trailing by two points heading into the final ten minutes, The Kingdom showed admirable character to rattle off five unanswered points in a row.

The drama didn’t finish there as Derry had an opportunity to snatch an 80th-minute equalising goal but, cruelly, star forward Shane McGuigan accidentally kicked a free over the bar as he attempted to drop it into the square.

Kerry can now look forward to another final in two weeks’ time. Their greatest rivals, Dublin, stand in the way of All-Ireland title number 39.

FAST-PACED

This match was teed up to be dour and slow-paced but two early goals set the tone for a ferociously competitive first half.

Gareth McKinless slotted home the first goal for Derry in the fifth minute; he tidied things up when Shane Ryan denied Brendan Rogers from close range.

Kerry’s response was immediate and devastating as Gavin White burst forward to palm home Seánie O’Shea’s assist just a minute later. Kerry now led by 1-1 to 1-0 but three scores on the bounce by Paddy McGrogan, Paul Cassidy and Shane McGuigan pushed Derry two points ahead.

David Clifford and Chrissy McKaigue were battling hard away from the ball and at this point Clifford was getting the better of the experienced Derry defender. He kicked 0-5 in total in the first period, including two wonderful efforts from play.

(He was also yellow-carded for what appeared to be a fair shoulder on McGuigan, although thankfully the referee’s decision didn’t have a bearing on the outcome of the game.)

Things were set up nicely with ten minutes to go in the half but then a black card for Diarmuid O’Connor following a foot trip on Conor Glass meant Kerry were temporarily reduced to 14.

Derry made hay while O’Connor was in the bin. Brendan Rogers (two), Ciarán McFaul and Shane McGuigan all scored during this period, with a solitary point by wandering keeper Shane Ryan all that Kerry could muster in response. Derry were unhappy with a collision between Ryan and McGuigan in the build-up to that point - Ryan appeared to shield himself and catch McGuigan with his backside in the process. The referee deemed it unintentional.

Clifford (mark) and McGuigan (free) exchanged points in stoppage time as Derry went in at the interval three points ahead (1-11 to 1-8).

IMPACT

Jack O’Connor called on the experienced Stephen O’Brien at half-time and the Kenmare man made a significant impact without the ball in the third quarter.

At the other end, his clubmate Seánie O’Shea began to find his rhythm and he and Clifford kicked two points apiece to make it a tied game with 48 minutes on the clock. Meanwhile, Conor Doherty broke forward to kick Derry’s only score of this spell.

Shane Ryan was called into action in the 52nd minute to deny McKinless with a wonderful save, but Derry kept their nerve and points by Ciarán McFaul and McGuinness (free) edged them out into a two-point lead with ten minutes to go.

Another six minutes passed before either team scored again and Kerry were now in real danger of slipping out of the championship, but a flurry of scores between the 66th and 71st minutes turned the game on its head.

O’Shea (free) and Clifford (free) made it level at 1-14 each, before an inspirational left-footed effort by O’Brien a minute from time gave Kerry their first lead in 37 minutes.

Derry probed but Kerry looked menacing on the counter and points by O’Shea and Man of the Match Clifford opened up a three-point deficit.

The men in green and gold had their chances to put the tie to bed but they failed to execute, which left McGuigan with a last-ditch opportunity to create a scramble in front of the Hill.

His floated kick had too much on it, though. Never before did Kerry supporters cheer an opposition point with so much fervour.

KERRY: S Ryan (0-1); G O’Sullivan, J Foley, T O’Sullivan; P Murphy, T Morley, G White (1-0); D O’Connor (0-1), J Barry; D Moynihan, S O’Shea (0-4, 1f), A Spillane; P Clifford (0-1), D Clifford (0-9, 4f, 1m), P Geaney.

Subs: S O’Brien (0-1) for Spillane; T Brosnan for Geaney; B Ó Beaglaoich for Murphy; M Burns for Moynihan, R Murphy for P Clifford.

DERRY: O Lynch (0-1); C McKaigue, E McEvoy, C McCluskey; C Doherty (0-1), G McKinless (1-0), P McGrogan (0-1); C Glass, B Rogers (0-2); N Toner, Paul Cassidy (0-2), E Doherty; C McFaul (0-2), S McGuigan (0-6, 3f), N Loughlin.

Subs: Pádraig Cassidy for McGrogan, B Heron for Pádraig Cassidy, L Murray for Toner, S Downey for McEvoy, B McCarron for McKinless.

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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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