By Pierce O’Reilly
Kerry’s women deposed of Ulster rivals Donegal with the slightest of fuss at Gaelic Park on Sunday morning when the two sides met in the Peter Connaughton Cup final.
The Kingdom’s foundation was rock solid, while all the early Donegal attacks hardly rattled a window.
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Kerry hit an amazing 20 wides over the hour, and if it wasn’t for atrocious shooting, they would have won by a cricket score. Leading 0-7 to 0-2 at the interval, with excellent points coming from the alert Maureen O’Driscoll, Roisin Grogan and Tracey Rice, the Munster women never looked back. Donegal lacked power in front of goal and an inability to pass accurately cost them dearly.
To their credit, the Ulster players never let their heads drop, and with three outstanding performers in Aoife Gibson, Mary Casey and Marianna Devlin, they never stopped competing.
However, scores win games and Donegal couldn’t get them. Aisling Wheelan and Caroline Kelly did manage two points for Donegal in the first half, but with Mags Dineen and Claire Tracey rifling over a point apiece before the short whistle, Munster were always in control.
The second half was pedestrian stuff. Kerry waltzed through the Donegal defense at will and kicked points from all angles to lead 1-10 to 0-2 with 10 minutes to play. Center forward Yvonne Rabbitte was outstanding in this period and her point taking and overall work rate were unequaled.
At the back, the player of the game, Una Burke, was fetching the ball from the clouds and making deadly accurate clearances that pinned the Ulster women in their own half of the field for the entire second half.
After 15 minutes of the second half, the killer blow arrived. Summer import Roisin Grogan dispossessed Tina Dengler in the Donegal goal and belted the ball into the roof of the net.
The Kerry machine was on cruise control from there to the finish, with Grogan and substitute Evelyn McDermott hitting two late points. Donegal managed only a solitary point for the entire second half, from Fiona Devenny at the midway mark. Kerry will be considered serious contenders for the Sean Faherty championship cup after this painless victory, and Donegal will live in hope of better days next season.
Kerry: Deirdre Maher, Carmel Ahern-Mulvihill, Anne Holland, Ann Flood, Imelda Tracey, Una Burke, Joanna McGowan, Mags Dineen 0-1, Julie Enright, Tracey Rice 0-2, Yvonne Rabbitte 0-2, Maureen O’Driscoll 0-2, Roisin Grogan 1-2, Claire Tracey 0-1, Brigid Fallon. Subs: Evelyn McDermott 0-1, Mairead Casey.
Donegal: Tina Dengler, Roisin Moran, Bernie Harvey, Gillian Murphy, Michelle McVann, Aoife Gibson, Miriam McNamara, Mary Casey, Marianna Devlin, Nora Dineen, Caroline Kelly 0-1, Marie Cassels, Asling Wheelan 0-1, Fiona Devenny 0-1, Jenny Harvey. Subs, Lindsey McCleave, Patricia O’Regan, Katherine Henderson.