Having advanced to this year’s NFL final to be defeated by Cork, Galway had high hopes of overcoming a Kerry side that, after a poor league campaign, had been forced to come through the backdoor route.
However Kerry continued where they left off against Mayo in the round two qualifier - striking out to take a comfortable lead and surviving a second-half onslaught.
Galway had looked dead and buried after Kerry opened up a 1 - 9 to 0 - 4 lead just after half time, but after a poor first half, they finally found their rhythm, started to play to potential, and staged what could have been a miraculous recovery. They created the opportunities which, if converted, could have sealed their route to the semi-final, but Kerry were deserving winners on the day thanks to a superior first half.
Galway only managed three points in that opening half as Kerry took control, particularly at midfield. Kerry captain Bernie Breen opened the scoring before Galway replied with an Una Carroll free. However as Galway struggled in both defence and attack, Louise O’Mhuircheartaigh tagged on four frees to keep Kerry’s scoreline ticking. While Patricia Gleeson struck with normal accuracy to keep Galway in the game, Sarah Houlihan and Mags O’Donoghue added two more to give Kerry a 0-6 to 0-2 lead.
After hitting two disappointing wides, Carroll dispatched another free just before half time, but Kerry remained in control with a six-point lead.
The second half, which began with an Una Carroll point, was marked by four penalties - the first of which arrived within five minutes. Galway’s Tina Hughes upended Dennehy and O’Donoghue slotted home to give the Kingdom an unbeatable lead 1 - 9 to 0 - 4.
While it looked all over for the Tribeswomen, they mounted a remarkable fightback. Lorna Joyce forced a score before Geraldine Conneally’s shot struck the posts and fell into the hands of Kerry number one Elaine Murphy.
Carroll hit two more frees to continue Galway’s revival, and when Sinead Burke set off on one of her trademark blistering runs and was fouled by Sandra Buckley, Galway were handed a precious penalty lifeline. Shooting low to the left, Carroll’s effort trickled agonisingly wide.
At this point Kara Mullins, Claire Hehir and Dora Gorman had been introduced; and Mullins took the game by the scruff of the neck, kicking two superb points to keep Galway afloat.
With the gap down to a goal at 1-9 to 0-9, Kerry had been held scorelss for 20 minutes, but a quick counter left Galway exposed as Louise Galvin picked out Emer Sherwood who looked certain to hit the net when she rounded Hughes. Just about to pull the trigger, Aine Gilmore had raced back and had little option but to upend the Kerry forward and hand the Kingdom their second penalty. Making no mistake again, O’Donoghue kicked high to the right corner.
Still the drama continued. Gleeson and Mullins struck again for Galwy before a low Mullins’ ball across goal in the final minute fell to Carroll. After her initial effort was blocked, three Kerry defenders descended on her, conceding the penalty. High-flying youngster Dora Gorman duly obliged, drilling low to find the corner, cutting the deficit to one.
But with time running out, Kerry survived once again, sending Galway out of the championship for another year.
Galway: T Hughes, A Seoighe, A Gilmore, R McPhilbin; G Conneally, E Flaherty, N Lohan, P Gleeson (0-2 ), A Daly (D Gorman 30mins 1-0, pen ); L Joyce (0-1 ) (K Mullins 49mins 0-3 ), S Burke, E Concannon; S Murphy, U Carroll (0-5, 4f ), N Duggan (C Hehir 32mins ).
Kerry: E Murphy; K Gleeson, A Leonard, G Crowley; D Murphy, A Desmond, B Lane (S Buckley 40mins ); L Scanlon, B Breen (0-1 ); M O’Donoghue (2-1, 2 pen ), SJ Joy, L Galvin (0-1 ); P Dennehy (0-1 ), L Ni Mhuircheartaigh (0-4, 4f ), S Houlihan (0-1 ) (E Sherwood 43mins ).
Referee: J Murray (Dublin ).
• The Galway Ladies u-16 team, sponsored by EMP Furniture, plays Laois in the u-16 A Shield final on Sunday in Banagher at 3.45pm. The Galway Ladies Junior team played Kerry in the Aisling Mc Ging Tournament on Sunday, winning 5-19 to 0-6. They play Meath next Sunday at 12 noon at a Galway venue. A win on Sunday will gaurantee a place in the semi-finals. They play Dublin on August 29 at a Galway venue.