TG4 ladies All-Ireland SFC Group 1
By DARAGH SMALL
Sarah Houlihan scored 2-3 as Kerry bounced back from their Munster final defeat to Cork to open Group 1 of the TG4 ladies All-Ireland seniorchampionship with victory over Tipperary at MacDonagh Park in Nenagh.
In the only all-Munster tie of the round robin series Eddie Sheehy’s side held a comfortable 2-9 to 1-3 lead at half-time. Houlihan and Andrea Murphy scored the first-half goals for them.
Roisin Howard scored Tipperary’s goal in the first-half and when Aisling Moloney did likewise after half-time they only trailed by four points. But Houlihan’s second goal made the difference for Kerry.
Tipperary lost the influential Jennifer Grant before throw-in and she was replaced by Lucy Spillane, while Samantha Lambert dropped deep in defence where she was used as a sweeper.
Both defences stifled their opposing attackers in the opening quarter. Aisling McCarthy kicked Tipperary’s first point after only 45 seconds but Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh equalised in the fourth minute.
Kerry raced into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead with Eilish O’Leary, Sarah Houlihan and Ni Mhuircheartaigh on target. Aisling Moloney had moved into full-forward and she scored twice to reduce the arrears for Tipperary.
And their goal arrived in the 21stminute. Moloney was central again, she set up Orla O’Dwyer and her pass put Howard through for the first goal. Tipperary were 1-3 to 0-4 ahead.
Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Houlihan levelled the game again in the 24thminute. And Kerry struck for a crucial goal shortly after. Centre-forward Ni Mhuircheartaigh passed to Houlihan and she showed her speed to apply the finish.
Murphy and O’Leary added further scores and on the half hour Houlihan’s long ball wasn’t dealt with by the Tipperary defence. Ni Mhuircheartaigh gathered possession and she assisted Murphy’s goal.
Amanda Brosnan rounded off the first half scoring with a fine effort and Kerry were 2-9 to 1-3 ahead at half-time. That lead was whittled down to 2-10 to 2-6 by the 39thminute.
McCarthy (two) and Moloney both scored points and then Moloney drove through the heart of the Tipperary defence to score a brilliant goal.
Houlihan scored Kerry’s second point of the half two minutes later and it was a vital score because Tipperary hit three in a row after that again. Gillian O’Brien scored twice off the bench but Kerry held on with Houlihan and Ni Mhuircheartaigh scoring again late on.
Scorers – Kerry: S Houlihan 2-3 (2f), L Ni Mhuircheartaigh 0-6 (3f), A Murphy 1-1, E O’Leary 0-2, A Brosnan 0-1
Tipperary: A Moloney 1-4, R Howard 1-1, A McCarthy 0-3 (1f), G O’Brien 0-2.
Kerry – L Fitzgerald; L Coughlan, S Murphy, E Lynch; D Kearney, A Desmond, A O’Connell; L Scanlon, A Brosnan; S Lynch, L Ni Mhuircheartaigh, A Foley; A Murphy, S Houlihan, E O’Leary.
Subs: K O’Sullivan for Scanlon (23), E Dineen for Murphy (43), B Ryan for Foley (58), A O’Callaghan for Houlihan (66).
Tipperary – L Fitzpatrick; M Curley, L Spillane, B Condon; L Dillon, S Lambert, O O’Dwyer; A Moloney, S Condon; N Lonergan, A R Kennedy, C Condon; R Howard, M Morrissey, A McCarthy.
Subs: R McGrath for C Condon (44), K Davey for Lonergan (44), G O’Brien for Morrissey (44).
Ref – Jonathan Murphy (Carlow).