The Ulster champions led by four points at half-time, 1-10 to 0-9, and an unanswered 2-3 on the resumption made them safe. While Kerry did have the gap back to eight at one stage late on, goals from Eimear and Ciara McAnespie and Rosemary Courtney helped Monaghan to finish with a flourish, to Cunningham’s delight ahead of the last-four tie with the champions on September 3.
“This is where you want to be, you want to play the best teams,” she said.
“You’re never going to bring on the girls who have come in this year except playing the likes of Kerry and Cork. What I love about today is that you’ve not just won a quarter-final but beaten an exceptional team. Kerry are a great team with some fantastic players, I’ve absolutely total respect for them, and that’s what makes me even more happy, to be honest.
“We have to build on it now against Cork, unfortunately we don’t have much time.” With the wind, Kerry had begun well and Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, Sarah Houlihan and Laura Rogers had them 0-5 to 0-2 in front only for Monaghan’s Laura McEneaney to level with a fine goal. Lorraine Scanlon and Ní Mhuircheartaigh put Kerry in front once more, but then Monaghan hit a rich vein of form, scoring seven points on the trot, with player of the game Ellen McCarron, Caoimhe Mohan, Cora Courtney and Ciara McAnespie all on target.
It meant that they led by four going in and early second-half goals by Sharon Cortney and Therese Scott further buttressed that lead.
“We said it at half-time that Kerry would throw the kitchen sink at us in the first ten minutes so we’d have to come out of the blocks,” Cunningham said.
“We really, really put in a huge effort and thankfully we got the scores to mark the domination.
“We thought that that wind was worth four or five points to any team, we’d have been happy enough going in a couple of points behind but getting those seven in a row really helped us.”
Despite having midfielder Bernie Breen sent off, Kerry responded and a fortuitous Denise Hallissey goal gave them brief hope as the lead was cut to eight. The late goals secured it for Monaghan, leaving Cunningham happy.
“There was a wee period there where Kerry came back into it and I was getting a bit edgy on the sideline,” she said, “we’ll have to have a look at that on the DVD and see what went wrong. The girls put in a phenomenal amount of work, they were wrecked coming off the field and that’s what you want to see.”
E McCarron, C Mohan (0-5 each), C McAnespie (1-3), C Courtney (0-4, frees), L McEneaney, S Courtney, T Scott, E McAnespie, R Courtney (1-0 each).
Ní Mhuircheartaigh (0-6, 3 frees), S Houlihan (0-4, 3 frees), D Hallissey (1-0), L Rogers, L Scanlon, A Galvin (0-2 each).
C McKenna; R McKenna, J Fitzpatrick, L Ward; A McAnespie, S Courtney, G McNally; C Courtney, E McAnespie; L McEneaney, E McCarron, T Scott; C McAnespie, C Mohan, R Courtney.
N Callan for Ward (37); L Jones for Mohan (51); M Atkinson for L McEneaney (57).
E Murphy; A O’Connell, A Desmond, C Murphy; D Hallissey, C Kelly, E Lynch; B Breen, E Sherwood; K O’Sullivan, L Scanlon, J Lynch; S Houlihan, L Ní Mhuircheartaigh, L Rogers.
A Leonard for E Lynch; A Galvin for J Lynch (36); A Brosnan for Sherwood (49); P Dennehy for Rogers (50); M O’Connell for Houlihan (54).
J Niland (Sligo).