The Kerry Ladies Intermediate Football County Final was played in Ballymacelligott on Sunday between Castleisland Desmonds and Na Gaeil.
Na Gaeil, the current All Ireland Junior Club champions were hoping to add the Intermediate title to the list of honors. However, from early on in the game it was clear this was going to be a difficult task.
Castleisland were first on the scoreboard with a point from Stephanie Murphy within the opening minute. Within minutes of the kick out, Na Gaeil goalkeeper Laura Fitzgerald was called into action and pulled off the first of many point blank saves of the day.
Castleisland also hit the post three times within the opening five minutes as Na Gaeil had difficulty clearing the lines. County star Lorraine Scanlon was pulling the strings and running hard at Na Gaeil at this stage of the game
Desmonds tacked on a few points but Na Gaeil were still within touching distance. But a goal from Leanne Mangan, which was fisted to the net after a good passing move put some daylight between the teams on the 12th minute, leaving the score Castleisland Desmonds 1-04 Na Gaeil 0-1 with Na Gaeil score coming from Kate Anne O’Connor.
Desmonds added on a few more points to leave the score at half time 1-10 to 0-02 It was a free from Marie Quirke that gave Na Gaeil’s their second point.
Laura Fitzgerald was busy just before the half time whistle as made two good saves in a row to keep her team in it.
In the second half Na Gaeil moved their full back, Deirdre Kearney out to curb Lorraine Scanlon.
However that left a hole in the full back line which Desmonds immediately exploited with 1-02 from full forward Leanne Mangan within five minutes. Desmonds added on a few points from Andrea Murphy and Rachel Cronin before Leanne Mangan completed her hat trick with her third goal for Castleisland Desmonds on the 12th minute, after an initial goal bound shot was stopped by the keeper. This left the score at 3-15 to 0-02.
Na Gaeil continued to work hard in spite of the game going against them and returning club favorite, Meadbh Barry struck for a goal on the 19 minute. This was quickly followed up with points from Ayesha Roche and Brid Connor.
Na Gaeil were awarded a penalty late in the game which Marie Quirke struck to the left of the keeper, low and hard and hitting the back of the net.
Castleisland hit for the final point of the game through Aine O’Connor and this left the final score 3-17 to Na Gaeil.
Captain Lorraine Scanlon accepted the cup from vice chairman Jerry O’Mahony. In the course of her speech she paid tribute to and dedicated the win to the previous Kerry Ladies & Castleisland Desmonds Ladies chairman Donal Curtin RIP. The late Donal’s daughter Mariah played her part in the victory on Sunday.
Castleisland now progress to the Munster Club competition and with such a strong panel will be hoping to do well.
However, sterner tests will be ahead. Impressive for the winning side were: Lorraine Scanlon, particularly in the first half; Aisling Leonard at midfield, Andrea Murphy and Leanne Mangan. The defence was never really tested.
Best for Na Gaeil was their keeper, Laura Fitzgerald – who was under immense pressure throughout but didn’t buckle; Deirdre Kearney played extremely well and Brid Connor worked to the end. But they will now have to go back and regroup.
The senior A final will take place on Sunday at 1pm in JP O’Sullivan Park, Killorglin between Southern Gaels and Desmonds/Duagh. This will be Southern Gaels third final in a row and they will be hoping to make up for previous year’s disappointments and especially for last year when they capitulated in the second half.
Southern Gaels will be hoping for strong performances from their senior county stars: Caroline Kelly, Deirdre Corridan and Megan O’Connell. Desmonds/Duagh a combinations side backboned by Castleisland Desmonds will be hoping to win a first senior title. Castleisland will be buoyed with their victory in the Intermediate championship and that run out will be invaluable to them as they iron out any kinks. Desmonds players were also a key members of the Sliabh Luachra outfit which defeated Southern Gaels previously. With Lorraine Scanlon and Leanne Mangan in flying form on Sunday the Southern Gaels side will have their work cut out for them. However there is nothing to match a good club side who are playing week in week out together and this is a bonus for Southern Gaels. A very tight one to call, but would just about give it to Desmonds/Duagh.