Hard-working Kerry ladies earn second chance in semi-final

Kerry 2-13 Tyrone 3-10

Kerry 2-13 Tyrone 3-10

Kerry captain Bernie Breen secured a replay for her team as the Kingdom and Tyrone fought out an epic TG4 All-Ireland Ladies senior football championship semi-final stalemate at Ballymahon, Longford, today.

Breen rifled home a brilliant 56th minute goal as Kerry, beaten Munster semi-finalists this year, earned a richly-deserved second chance to leave Dublin still awaiting their final opponents on September 26.

Kerry’s never-say-die attitude was in evidence on more than one occasion in this thrilling semi-final as they came from six points behind to draw level at half-time, 1-6 apiece.

And their battling qualities came to the fore again in the second half as Kerry hit back from the concession of two potentially shattering goals.

Player of the match Joline Donnelly, who shot 1-6, put Tyrone 2-6 to 1-6 ahead less than two minutes after half-time as the corner forward’s looping shot found the back of the net.

But Kerry responded with a run of five unanswered points to lead by two before Mags O’Donoghue’s 43rd minute penalty was brilliantly saved by Tyrone goalkeeper Shannon Lynch.

A goal for then for championship surprise packets Kerry would have put them five points clear and their woe was compounded at the other end less than two minutes later when Cathy Donnelly cracked home a terrific Tyrone goal.

Now 3-6 to 1-11 clear, Tyrone went on to lead by three points but Kerry hit back to cut the lead to a single point, 1-13 to 3-8, with three minutes remaining.

A Gemma Begley free and Joline Donnelly’s sixth point pushed Tyrone three clear but the Red Hands were reeled in by Breen’s magnificent strike in the 56th minute.

Tyrone had looked the better side in the first half but Kerry refused to yield, even when they fell 1-3 to 0-0 behind with eight minutes on the watch.

Sarah Connolly bagged Tyrone’s goal in the eighth minute with a good finish after the ball had been worked into the full forward by Cathy Donnelly and Shannon Quinn.

Kerry’s response was a run of three unanswered points sparked by top scorer Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh but Tyrone hit back with three of their own to lead by six points again, 1-6 to 0-3, by the 22nd minute.

Kerry, once again, dug deep and a run of 1-3 in the remaining minutes of the half ensured parity at the midway point.

Kerry’s first half goal, scored by Lorraine Scanlon in the 28th minute, was another superb effort in keeping with the exceptional shooting on show all through the match.

Kerry boss William O’Sullivan said: “Great credit is due to both sets of players; people might not realise looking in on TV but the heat was extreme and to go at that pace for 60 minutes is testament to the fitness of both sides.

“We started poorly in both halves but we live to fight another day and any day you don’t lose is a good day.”

Scorers for Tyrone: J Donnelly 1-6 (0-1f), C Donnelly 1-1, S Connolly 1-0, A O’Kane 0-1, C McGahan 0-1, G Begley 0-1f.

Scorers for Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-6f, L Scanlon 1-1, B Breen 1-1, S Houlihan 0-3f, L Galvin 0-1, P Dennehy 0-1.

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