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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Meath reclaim All-Ireland Ladies SFC title with victory over Kerry

Meath have defended their All-Ireland senior ladies title with an emphatic win over Kerry in Croke Park, recording a league and championship double in the process.

he team that came from nowhere to stun Dublin and end their five-in-a-row hopes last year have backed up that success to become the clear dominant force in the ladies game.

Despite falling five points behind early on as Kerry hit them with 1-2 in the opening six minutes Meath showed poise and control to engineer their way back into it quickly and opened up in the second half with two goals to make their back-to-back journey less stressful than it had been in their quarter-final and semi-final.

Led by the superb Aoibhín Cleary from half-back and the industrious Niamh O’Sullivan in attack, Meath absorbed Kerry’s best shots after that difficult start and were able to suppress Kerry’s most dangerous forward Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh after her early goal.

Putting pressure on the Meath kick-out Ni Mhuircheartaigh pounced to hustle Katie Newe off the ball in the sixth minute as they pursued Monica McGurk’s short kick-out and float a shot over McGuirk for that 1-2 to 0-0 lead.

Briefly the champions looked troubled but they hit back with a goal of their own three minutes later from Emma Troy who gathered behind the cover after Kelsey Nesbitt’s shot for a point lost momentum.

It was their cue for lift off and with Vikki Wall carrying a threat every time she turned and ran at the Kerry defence control was quickly established.

Wall had Meath level with two frees and they added four more points by the 21st minute, the last a great combination between Wall and her Dunboyne sidekick Emma Duggan for a 1-6 to 1-2 lead, the game’s critical period.

By the break Kerry had clawed back some ground and trailed by 1-8 to 1-5 but really Meath had chances to be much further ahead.

Kerry closed to within a point early in the second half but it was all Meath from there to the finish with substitute Bridgetta Lynch having a big impact after her 42nd minute introduction.

She provided an assist to Stacey Grimes who set up O’Sullivan for a 45th minute goal that ultimately ensured that the Brendan Martin Cup would be staying in Meath before pouncing herself for a goal three minutes later after Wall’s run had opened up Kerry and grimes had a shot blocked.

In the follow up Lynch initially struck the crossbar but the rebound fell kindly for her and she tapped in to put eight points between them.

Late on Wall was yellow carded and spent the last five minutes in the ‘bin,’ apparently for repeat fouling but some of those calls were dubious to say the least and indeed she was fouled more often herself during the course of the game.

Scorers – Meath: N O’Sullivan 1-2, E Troy 1-1, B Lynch 1-0, S Grimes (2fs), V Wall (2fs) 0-3 each, E Duggan 0-1 (f). Kerry: L Ni Mhuircheartaigh 1-2 (0-2fs), S O’Shea 0-2, L Scanlon, C Murphy, P McCarthy all 0-1 each.

Meath: M McGuirk; S Ennis, MK Lynch, K Newe; A Leahy, E Troy, A Cleary; M O’Shaughnessy, O Lally; M Thynne, E Duggan, K Nesbitt; V Wall, S Grimes, N O’Sullivan. Subs: O Byrne for Leahy inj (22), B Lynch for Nesbitt (42), S Wall for Thynne (57), O Duff for Ennis (57), E White for Grimes (57).

Kerry: C Butler; J O’Sullivan, K Cronin, E Lynch; A O’Connell, E Costello, C Murphy; L Scanlon, C Lynch; N Carmody, S O’Shea, A Galvin; P McCarthy, D O’Leary, L Ni Mhuircheartaigh. Subs: N Ní Chonchúir for Carmody (44), E McGlynn for McCarthy (45), C Evans for O’Leary (57), M O’Connell for O’Connell.

Referee: M Farrelly (Cavan).

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