KERRY captain Bernie Breen rifled home a brilliant 56th minute goal at Ballymahon, Longford on Saturday to force this thrilling All-Ireland semi-final to a replay.
The Kingdom’s never-say- die attitude was in evidence throughout this clash 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 they refused to buckle despite the concession of two goals.
Player of the match Joline Donnelly, who scored 1-6, put Tyrone 2-6 to 1-6 ahead less than two minutes after half-time when her looping shot snuck under the crossbar.
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 then for championship surprise packets Kerry would have put them five points clear and their woe was compounded less than two minutes later when Cathy Donnelly cracked home a terrific Tyrone goal.
Now 3-6 to 1-11 clear, the Ulster girls 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 after eight minutes.
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 scores 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 throughout 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.”
Meanwhile Donegal produced a devastating second half attacking display to book their place in the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies intermediate football championship final on September 26 (3-14 to 1-6).
It was heartbreak for Longford who lost out at the semi-final stage for the third successive season after they were outscored by 0-4 to 2-11 in the second half.
Geraldine McLaughlin secured the player of the match award after scoring 1-9, including 1-7 in the second half, as Michael Naughton’s team ran riot.
Scorers for Tyrone: J Donnelly 1-6 (0-1f), C Donnelly 1-1, S Connolly 1-0, A O’Kane, C McGahan, G Begley (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kerry: L Ní Mhuircheartaigh 0-6f, L Scanlon 1-1, B Breen 1-1, S Houlihan 0-3f, L Galvin, P Dennehy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Longford: S Treacy 1-1 (1-0 pen, 0-1f), F Gettings 0-2, AM Bratten, E Brady, E Quinn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Donegal: G McLaughlin 1-9 (5f), Y McMonagle 1-2, K Feeney 1-0, E Ward 0-2 (1f), K Guthrie 0-1f.
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