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Kerry hang on against Galway to round off league campaign with another win

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Adam Moynihan reports from Fitzgerald Stadium

National Football League: Division 1

Kerry 0-15 Galway 1-10

They made harder work of it than they needed to but Kerry won their final league game of 2024 at a dull and dreary Fitzgerald Stadium today – although, as it turned out, the result itself was largely irrelevant.

Jack O’Connor’s men knew they were unlikely to overtake Dublin and book a place in the league final even if they held up their end of the bargain, and that’s exactly how it transpired as the Dubs hammered Tyrone in Croke Park.

Galway knew that they would be safe - even if they lost - as long as Roscommon also lost to Derry, and that’s exactly how it transpired as Derry won easily in Celtic Park.

The game ended in a flurry of excitement nevertheless when Tomo Culhane’s 68th-minute goal cut the deficit from six to three, but Kerry held on to finish their campaign on 10 points, level with finalists Dublin but ultimately ranked lower on head-to-head.

Derry will play Dublin in the Division 1 final next Sunday. Roscommon will join Monaghan in Division 2 in 2025.

Kerry now have a four-week break before their next competitive match: the Munster semi-final (probably against Cork) on April 20.

SLOW START

The hosts were slow enough out of the blocks, which was perhaps understandable given the lowkey lineup they fielded and the low stakes nature of the fixture from their perspective. They did manage to take the lead via a fisted effort by Joe O’Connor within 25 seconds but Galway seized the initiative thereafter as two marks by Rob Finnerty and a long-range effort by Cillian Ó Curraoin made it 0-3 to 0-1 in Pádraic Joyce's team's favour.

Some fine shooting by the returning Killian Spillane (two) and Stephen O’Brien kept Kerry within striking distance heading into the final five minutes of a low-scoring first half. Ater Johnny Heaney swung over a lovely point for the visitors, Kerry finished the half in the ascendancy as Darragh Roche, Seánie O’Shea and Killian Spillane kicked them into a two-point half-time lead (0-8 to 0-6).

With midfielders Joe O’Connor and Barry Dan O’Sullivan dominating the skies, The Kingdom pushed on in the third quarter. They kicked the first three points of the period through O’Shea, full debutant Armin Heinrich and Paul Geaney, before Heaney ended Galway’s 18-minute scoreless run in the 49th minute.

CLIFFORDS

The Clifford brothers were held in reserve until the 50-minute mark and both Paudie and David got their names on the scoresheet when they were introduced. David’s 64th minute free means his incredible scoring streak is still going; he has now registered at least 0-1 in all 67 of his appearances for the Kerry seniors.

When O’Shea made it 0-15 to 0-8 two minutes later it should have been game over but a point by John Daly narrowed the deficit to two goals.

Then Culhane was teed up by Finnerty (after Johnny Heaney turned over Gavin White from a short Shane Ryan kickout) and the super sub made no mistake to make for an exciting last few minutes.

Paul Conroy worked an opening and nailed a shot to make it a two-point game, and Kerry’s hearts were in their mouths when Heaney’s probing ball into the mixer was attacked by keeper Connor Gleeson in the last play of the game.

Luckily for Kerry the ball deflected away from danger, and they will head off for their training camp in Portugal on Monday week on the back of three straight wins.

KERRY: S Ryan; P Murphy, D Casey, A Heinrich 0-1; Seán O’Brien, T Morley, G White; BD O’Sullivan, J O’Connor 0-1; A Spillane, P Geaney 0-1, Stephen O’Brien 0-1; K Spillane 0-4 (1f), D Roche 0-1, S O’Shea 0-4 (2f).

Subs: P Clifford 0-1 for Geaney; D Clifford 0-1f for Roche; G O’Sullivan for Heinrich; B Ó Beaglaoich for Murphy; R Buckley for Stephen O’Brien.

GALWAY: C Gleeson; J McGrath, S Fitzgerald, E Kelly; D McHugh 0-1, J Daly 0-1, L Silke; P Conroy 0-2, J Maher; J Heaney 0-2, C Darcy, C Sweeney 0-1; R Cunningham, R Finnerty 0-2m, C Ó Curraoin 0-1.

Subs: D O’Flaherty for Cunningham; T Culhane 1-0 for Darcy; P Egan for Ó Curraoin; J Glynn for Silke; K Molloy for McHugh.

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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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