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Honours even in Newbridge as Kildare snatch deserved draw

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Adam Moynihan reports from St Conleth's Park

National League: Division 1

Kildare 0-13 Kerry 1-10

HT: Kildare 0-6 Kerry 1-7

A rousing second-half fightback saw Kildare snatch a point against Kerry in Newbridge this afternoon, and not even the most devout Kerry fan could deny that the hosts were worthy of their draw.

Two late points by the excellent Jimmy Hyland drew The Lilywhites level and although Kerry had a chance to win it at the death, Tom O’Sullivan was unable to drive his soccer-style snapshot through the posts.

It was an eventful return to Kildare for Kerry boss Jack O’Connor. There were some positives – particularly in the opening period – but ultimately he will be left frustrated by the fact that his new team only managed three points in the entirety of the second half.

VOCIFEROUS

Cheered on by a vociferous home crowd, Kildare burst into life right from the throw-in and early points by Paul Cribbin and Kevin Flynn gave them a 2-0 lead.

Kerry needed a settler and they got the perfect remedy in the sixth minute when Killian Spillane manufactured a shot from a tight space in front of goal. His effort rather trickled over the line but they’re all worth three, and Kerry were off the mark for the 2022 campaign.

Seán O’Shea, operating i lár na páirce in the absence of a number of midfield candidates, pointed a great effort from distance to make 1-1 to 0-2 in Kerry’s favour. The lively Hyland pulled one back for Kildare before O’Shea tagged on another point, this time from a free.

Paudie Clifford stretched Kerry’s lead out to three with a fabulous score and then Hyland and O’Shea exchanged another couple of frees. It was around this time that one would be expecting a water break but those days are gone, and it must be said that the fare was all the better for it.

Jack O’Connor’s men were beginning to shift through the gears now and Tom O’Sullivan and David Clifford both outfoxed their markers within a matter of seconds to score and make it a five-point game.

Hyland was the real bright spark for the hosts and he added two more to this tally to keep his side in contention.

Kerry were dealt a major blow in the 28th minute when Gavin White had to be helped from the field after being dragged down fairly unceremoniously, but the half ended on a positive note when Clifford floated over a typically sensational point.

In fact, it could have been far worse for Kildare; on the stroke of half-time, Clifford dragged an attempt on goal wide after being teed up by Dara Moynihan.

SCRAPPY

The second half was largely scrappy but Kildare deserve huge credit for fighting their way back into the contest. Apart from fine efforts by Paul Geaney, Paudie Clifford and substitute Tony Brosnan, Glen Ryan’s defence kept their illustrious counterparts quiet for most of the second 35.

At the other end, scores by Paddy Woodgate (three), Kevin Flynn and Paul Cribbin chipped away at Kerry’s lead.

Fittingly, it was left to Hyland to finish the job, and finish it he did. His 74th-minute free after a robust challenge by Adrian Spillane levelled matters for the first time, and Kerry’s last-ditch efforts to create an opening came to nought.

A point away from home is far from fatal from Kerry’s point of view, but an improved offensive display will be required if they are to give Dublin a rattle in Round 2.

KILDARE: M Donnellan; M O’Grady, S Ryan, R Houlihan; J Sargent, J Murray, T Archibald; K O’Callaghan, K Flynn (0-2); P Tuohy, P Cribbin (0-2), B McCormack; P Woodgate (0-3, 1f), D Flynn, J Hyland (0-7, 3f).

Subs: Feely for O’Callaghan, N Flynn for McCormack, McDermott for Tuohy.

KERRY: S Murphy; D O'Donoghue, J Foley, T O'Sullivan (0-1); P Murphy, T Morley, G White; S O'Shea (0-3, 2f), A Spillane; M Burns, P Clifford (0-2), D Moynihan; K Spillane (1-0), D Clifford (0-2), P Geaney (0-1).

Subs: Ó Beaglaoich for White, Savage for Burns, Brosnan (0-1) for K Spillane, Horan for Moynihan.

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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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