By Daragh Small in Dr Hyde Park
Geraldine McLaughlin scored eight points and Donegal advanced to the quarter-finals of the TG4 Ladies Football Championship as Group 1 winners as they got the better of Kerry at Dr Hyde Park.
Both of these sides recorded victories over Tipperary in their opening games but this win means Maxi Curran’s side have avoided a clash with reigning champions Dublin in the quarter-finals.
Donegal held a 1-7 to 1-2 lead at half-time after Eilish Ward’s early goal was cancelled out by Amy Foley. Ward also missed a penalty before the break.
Donegal pushed further clear after half-time before Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh and Amanda Brosnan scored goals for Kerry. But Donegal held on with McLaughlin on form.
She opened the scoring in the second minute, and three minutes later they added a goal. McLaughlin came up with the assist on this occasion and Ward finished to the net.
Ward followed that up with a point and Kerry looked in real trouble as they trailed by 1-2 to 0-0 with the breeze at their backs.
Sarah Houlihan scored Kerry’s first point from a free in the ninth minute and Foley reduced the arrears further. But those scores were cancelled out by Aoife McDonald and Karen Guthrie up the other end.
Donegal were far more dangerous and troubled the Kerry full back line constantly. Yvonne Bonner was fouled inside the penalty area in the 16th minute but Ward put her shot wide and left.
Kerry were suddenly thrown a life-line when Foley palmed to the net in the 22nd minute after the Donegal defence was split open.
Kerry were only two points behind but they couldn’t maintain that pressure and points from Kathy Herron and McLaughlin (two) gave Donegal a 1-7 to 1-2 half-time advantage.
Donegal had their chances at the beginning of the second half too but they couldn’t convert. However Lorraine Scanlon’s yellow card in the 38th was a blow for Kerry.
Ní Mhuircheartaigh hit the crossbar and McLaughlin and Yvonne Bonner scored with Donegal 1-9 to 1-2 in front. Nevertheless Ní Mhuircheartaigh kept her composure next time and buried her shot to the net in the 43rd minute.
Donegal looked comfortable though and McLaughlin scored three points to drag them 1-12 to 2-3 in front.
But by the 51st minute two points from Houlihan (two) and a brilliant goal from Brosnan had Kerry back within one point of their opponents. But McLaughlin edged Donegal over the line.
Scorers – Donegal: G McLaughlin 0-8 (0-7f), E Ward 1-1, Y Bonner 0-1, A McDonald 0-1, K Guthrie 0-1, K Herron 0-1
Kerry: A Foley 1-1, S Houlihan 0-4 (0-2f), L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 1-0, A Brosnan 1-0, A Murphy 0-1.
Donegal – L Gallagher; T Doherty, N McLoughlin, D Foley; T McCafferty, C Hegarty, A M McGlynn; K Herron, A McDonald; K Guthrie, N Hegarty, S J McDonald; G McLoughlin, Y Bonner, E Ward.
Subs: C Grant for Guthrie (21), R Friel for S J McDonald (45).
Kerry – L Fitzgerald; K O’Sullivan, S Murphy, E Lynch; D Kearney, A Desmond, A O’Connell; L Scanlon, A Brosnan; E Dineen, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh, A Foley; A Murphy, E O’Leary, S Houlihan.
Subs: S Lynch for Foley (45), S Burns for Brosnan (55).
Ref – Gerry Carmody (Roscommon).