Kerry have been beaten by 3 points in their league opener to Westmeath on a scoreline of 10 points to 7.
This was a Westmeath Team that had been beaten by Cork in last year’s Division Two Final so were hot favourites against last year’s Division Three Champions. Kerry made two changes prior to throw-in with Áine O’Connor and Bríd Horan replacing Kate Lynch and Caoimhe Spillane respectively. On a wet and windy day for camogie, the visitors open their account in the 3rd minute through a free from their influential full forward Megan Dowdall. Patrice Diggin opened the Kerry account in the 8th minute from a free and the hosts went ahead a minute later when Jessica Fitzell won a brilliant ball in the corner and she fed Julianne O’Keeffe who raised a white flag. A Megan Dowdall free in the 13th minute was cancelled out by a Patrice Diggin free in the 16th and the same player put Kerry two points ahead in the 22nd minute when she converted a free following great play by both Jackie Horgan and Jessica Fitzell. Megan Dowdall from play, Sheila McGrath and a Megan Dowdall free had Westmeath 0-5 to 0-4 ahead by the 29th minute mark. Westmeath had a chance of a goal in the 1st minute of injury time but Aoife Fitzgerald brought off a brilliant save to leave the halftime score, Westmeath 0-5 Kerry 0-4.
Westmeath had the aid of a stiff breeze in the 2nd half but it was Kerry who went on the attack and a brilliant passage of play involving Laura Collins and Jackie Horgan was rewarded with a free, which Patrice Diggin duly converted to draw the sides level. A Megan Dowdall free in the 34th minute put the visitors back in front. Kerry launched an attack in the 35th minute when a pinpoint pass from Patrice Diggin found Jessica Fitzell but her shot was parried away by Fiona Keating and Bríd Horan was unlucky not to latch onto the rebound. In the 38th minute Westmeath increased their lead to two points when Sinéad McKenna split the posts. A Westmeath wide in the 45th was followed by an attack on the Kerry goal in the 46th but the Kerry defence coped admirably and Aoife Behan lifted the siege. A Megan Dowdall free in the 47th put Westmeath ahead by 0-8 to 0-5. A Patrice Diggin free in the 53rd minute reduced the margin to two. In the 58th minute, a promising attack by Kerry was repelled by the Westmeath defence. Aoife Fitzgerald had made an excellent save at the end of the first and she did likewise in the 59th minute when she used her body to deny Westmeath Captain Máiréad McCormack and the sliotar went out for a 45”, which Megan Dowdall converted. Máiréad McCormack completed the Westmeath scoring in the 60th minute with a point from play and the final score of the day came from Patrice Diggin when she converted a free. Kerry tried hard to get the goal that would have given them a share of the spoils but it was not to be and it finished Westmeath 0-10 Kerry 0-7.
Ian Brick and his Management will be very pleased with Kerry’s first outing in Division Two. Last year’s Division Three Champions acquitted themselves well against last year’s Division Two Finalists and this performance bodes well for the rest of the campaign.
Kerry Team and Scorers:
Aoife Fitzgerald, Liz Houlihan, Niamh Leen (Captain), Michelle Costello, Laura Collins, Sara Murphy, Aoife Behan, Olivia Dineen, Áine O’Connor, Julianne O’Keeffe (0-1), Patrice Diggin (0-6f), Rachel McCarthy, Bríd Horan, Jackie Horgan, Jessica Fitzell.
Substitutions: Alannah Whelan for Bríd Horan (37th), Elaine Ryall for Jackie Horgan (58th), Eilish Harrington for Jessica Fitzell (59th), Megan Weir for Julianne O’Keeffe (60th)
Risteard O Fuarain has this report and John also spoke to Kerry Manager Ian Brick