Kerry All Ireland U16 B Champions

Kerry 4-10 -v- Sligo 2-13

By Darren Kelly

Kerry are All-Ireland U-16 B ladies football champions for the first time ever after holding off a determined Sligo resurgence in Duggan Park in Ballinasloe.

Goals from Anna O’Sullivan, Mary Kate Smith, Lori O’Connor and Lisa Slattery were ultimately the difference. But after trailing by 10 points, goals from Saoirse Corcoran and Keeva Flynn helped reduce that deficit to two before O’Connor’s late Kerry free sealed the win.

Kerry took full advantage of the wind in the opening five minutes hitting Sligo for 2-1 and it was a lead they didn’t relinquish.

From the throw-in Smith and Keelin O’Sullivan moved play down the centre before releasing Anna O’Sullivan who scored their first goal.

Donal Doherty’s team also forced keeper Rebecca Davey into a save from O’Connor before the latter set up Smith for a point. But when Lisa Slattery supplied Smith for Kerry’s second goal, there was seven between them.

Sligo finally got off the mark on nine minutes when Lucy Henry was fouled and Keeva Flynn split the posts. They enjoyed their best spell keeping the Kingdom scoreless but only managed another Flynn free in response leaving it 2-1 to 0-2 on 20 minutes.

Kerry ended their drought with Smith and O’Connor tallying to restore the seven-point cushion before Flynn’s third placed ball for Sligo on 23 minutes. Kerry were threatening again as Smith added to her account.

Corcoran did get the Yeats County’s first from play on 30 minutes but Kerry replied with 1-1. O’Connor was put through for the third goal and Sarah Fitzgerald added a point making it 3-5 to 0-4 at half-time.

Sligo started with two Flynn scores but Kerry replied through Hannah Nic Gearailt and O’Connor. And even when Corcoran did make the breakthrough for Sligo’s first goal on 36 minutes, Slattery did likewise for Kerry two minutes later making it 4-7 to 1-6.

But Gerard Mullaney’s charges wouldn’t concede. Flynn registered two placed balls before Corcoran scored from play. And after O’Connor responded for Kerry, another Flynn triple left Sligo just 4-8 to 1-12 down with five minutes remaining.

Nic Gearailt pointed for Kerry before Ellen Giblin sent over a Sligo free. But when Flynn took her pass and scored their second goal two minutes from time, the Connacht county’s supporters were on their feet. However, Kerry held firm with O’Connor converting their final free to capture the crown for the first time.

Scorers – Kerry: Lori O’Connor 1-4 (1f), MK Smith 1-3, A O’Sullivan 1-0, L Slattery 1-0, H Nic Gearailt 0-2, S Fitzgerald 0-1.

Sligo: K Flynn 1-10 (9f), S Corcoran 1-2, E Giblin 0-1 (1f).

KERRY: L Harrington; J Lee O’Connor, G Murphy, L O’Sullivan; S Colleran, Lucy O’Connor, H Nic Gearailt; A O’Sullivan, MK Smith; K O’Sullivan, L Slattery, K Riordan; M Mulvihill, Lori O’Connor, S Fitzgerald. Subs: A O’Donoghue for Colleran (34), M Teahan for K O’Sullivan (38), E Costelloe for Fitzgerald (42), A Collins for L O’Sullivan (59)

SLIGO: R Davey; C Crawley, K Feeney, S Walsh; A Durcan, L Henry, G O’Callaghan; R McGoldrick, L Galvin; C Burns, K Flynn, G Cooke; C Gallagher, S Corcoran, E Giblin. Subs: C Gilligan for Burns (17), T

Hastings for Galvin (HT), A Conheady for Walsh (36), AK Davitt for Gallagher (50), S Davey for Cooke (58).

Referee: Ciaran Groome (Offaly)