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'Ladies Football In Kerry Needed That Boost'

'Ladies Football In Kerry Needed That Boost'
By Daire Walsh
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Kerry joint-manager Darragh Long believes winning the Lidl National Football League Division 2 title is a huge boost to Ladies football in the county.

The Kingdom lost the second-tier decider to Waterford in 2019 and Meath last year, but they took their chance when it came at Croke Park on Sunday and gained promotion.

Armagh were on the charge when they took a 0-12 to 1-7 lead in the 47th minute but Kerry fought back and scored the last five points of the game to claim their first Division 2 crown since 2013.

“Hard to put it into words, I think Ladies football in Kerry needed that boost,” said Long.

“We needed to get back to Division 1, we needed to put ourselves back on the map. It’s third time lucky, we didn’t want it to be third time lucky, but we’re there now.

“We’re there on merit. Over the course of three years we’ve played 14, 15 national league games and we’ve lost one, that’s a fair good record.

“We came in as massive underdogs. I don’t think a lot of people, even in our own county, gave us a chance.

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“The girls were brilliant, this is all about the girls today. They’re a fantastic bunch and they deserve to be playing against the best of the best on a weekly basis.”

10 April 2022; Danielle O'Leary of Kerry is tackled by Blaithin Mackin of Armagh during the Lidl Ladies Football National League Division 2 Final between Armagh and Kerry at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
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Both of these sides were desperate to secure a place in Division 1 for next season and it was the Ulster outfit who took a 0-8 to 0-6 lead at half-time.

Ronan Murphy’s side were also 0-5 to 0-3 in front at the first water break after a couple of Aimee Mackin frees put them in the ascendency.

Mackin had top-scored for Armagh prior to this game, with 3-21, but it was the Division 2 top-scorer, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh, who found her range twice on the resumption.

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'You have to credit Kerry'

However, she was shown yellow for a high challenge on Niamh Marley in the 23rd minute. Armagh scored three points in a row but the impressive Erica McGlynn sent over her second point before half-time.

Armagh dominated much of the third quarter and three Aimee Mackin points helped them into a two-point advantage, despite the brilliant goal from substitute Danielle O’Leary.

And it was O’Leary who spearheaded the Kerry challenge late on, Cáit Lynch drew the sides level in the 53rd minute, before points from O’Leary and Ní Mhuircheartaigh (two) sealed the win.

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“You have to credit Kerry,” said Murphy.

“They’ve been in a couple of finals and they probably weren’t going to let a third one slip away. They got their chances and they took it. Hat off to them.

“It’s a steep learning curve for us today.”

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See Also: Meath Boss Hails 'Different Heroes' As They Win First Division 1 Title

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